With the publication of The Book of Great Desserts, Maida Heatter did for desserts what Julia Child did for French cooking. Her recipes are so meticulous, and the results so delicious, that I've never had a failure or a disappointed recipient of anything I've made from it or any of her other cookbooks. (The one pictured to the right was published a couple of years later.)
The greatest accolade I had was for her Queen Mother Cake, a fabulous flourless chocolate creation. (This was before every restaurant had a death-by-chocolate cake on its menu.) I served it to a guest who had never had it before; and while she was eating it, to make polite conversation I asked, "And what's your favorite dessert?"
"This," she said, without missing a beat.