Dini Kodippili is the creator of The Flavor Bender, a website devoted new, often wildly creative ways to prepare food. Her blog has both savory and sweet but this first book of hers, Secret-Layer Cakes, I think exposes a secret about her: she has a sweet tooth any of us would envy.

The cakes in this book all share that surprise of a hidden or secret layer. The combination of different, and often contrasting layers, mean her creations are deliciously innovative. The 60 ideas here are found in four chapters:

  • Cheesecakes
  • Dessert Mash-Ups
  • No-Bake Cakes
  • Ice Cream Cakes

Almost half the recipes in this book are found in that Cheesecakes chapter. The book cover shows her Buckeye Brownie Cheesecake. Buckeye? That’s a peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate. This cake has brownie bottom for one layer, a second one of peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate ganache around the sides, and peanut butter glaze on the top.

There are sophisticated cheesecakes, like Coconut Cardamom, and some just plain fun ones, like French Toast Maple Cheesecake. These aren’t your normal cheesecakes by any mean.

The Mash-Ups again display an array of elegant ideas:

Tres Leches Boston Cream Pie

Fudgy Pistachio Baklava Cake

Tiramisu Meringue Cake

Earl Grey Orange Mousse Cake

The No-Bake chapter has ideas like Black Forest Mousse Cake and Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie Pudding. I might stop in this chapter for a test, but it’s more likely I’ll move to the Ice Cream Cakes:

Cookies and Cream [oreo, oreo, oreo]

Pumpkin Pie Butter Pecan Praline

Apple Pie

Rocky Road

Dini was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in New Zealand, lived in Australia and moved to the US in2014. She knows many cultures but has clearly embraced the idea of dessert globalization. The mix and match of flavor and textures will have you smiling. And, I hope tasting.

Ah, these cakes do look complex with those layers. Are they doable? Yes, decisively yes. The writing here is detailed, with the typical recipe spanning two pages. The beauty of these cakes requires some work and detail. Dini is a natural born writer. She’ll hold your hand, one layer at a time.