III. Chocolate Cookbooks
Cookbooks that discuss, cover, photograph, teach and write about chocolates are as important for us, chocolate enthusiast, as air to keeping us alive. Some of us are serious collectors with perhaps hundreds of books in our library; it is enough that the book has only the word “chocolate” buried somewhere on page 99 and it is purchased; some of us are more selective and buy only what we think is relevant to our chocolate business, and some of us are just enjoy looking at photographs at Barnes & Nobles or in the library. Nevertheless, we do not have a book shelve without a book about chocolate. I thought, I must list here some with a brief review, so that if you do not own yet anyone of the books listed here, you may have a second thought about them. Another possibility is that you never heard of them; in which case I am delighted to expose you to these gems so that you’ll have an opportunity to enrich your personal collection.
This list is definitely not exhaustive; most likely I will add more in Part 3, but even then, I am positive it will not be complete. We will continue to find more and more of these important reference books.
I’d like to thank you for visiting and ask you to send me your favorite book, if it is not listed here. I am interested to develop an exhaustive list so that everyone can find what they are looking for.
Since this is a list, not an article, I have a big favor to ask you now and not at the conclusion of the report. I will very much appreciate it if you could volunteer to be my friend on Facebook so that I can create a very useful reference source for you there, as well. I am unable to do it until I do not have at least 24 friends. Thanks for your consideration. I promise to deliver many useful information on this blog and via other media, whenever I can.
1. Candy Freak, by Steve Almond. This is an entertaining book about chocolate. Steve Almond, the author introduces us to the “fading away, little guy” candy maker. Most of the time, while reading the book I have not only laughed out loud, but tears were running down my cheek from the laughing. I definitely wanted more.
2 Great Book of Chocolate, by David Lebovitz. David Lebovitz is my favorite blogger. I must admit my review of his books are bias. But bias aside, I am not the only one that raves about this cute chocolate book. It contains fantastic photos as well, aside from fun anecdotes and a compact guide to all things chocolate. I believe I do not have to say anything about David’s recipes. His reputation as a pastry chef, as a blogger, as an entertainer and as a mentor runs way ahead of him in the bloggging community.
3. Chocolate: Cooking with the world’s best ingredient, by Christine McFadden & Christine France. This is a coffee-table style chocolate cookbook that includes over 200 recipes. The discussion about chocolate, including its history, methods of processing, and chocolates around the world is well-researched and thoroughly analyzed.
4. Chocolate Bible, by Christian Teubner. This book is a great resource for both the novice and the expert. If you want to learn how to create great tasting and looking chocolate confections, you must own this book. Every recipe is written in step-wise fashion, so it is easy to follow. Finally a book with easy-to-understand writeup about chocolate tempering; many of us developed a “fear of tempering”, which is mostly due to the way it is presented in reference books, video presentations and/or workshops. Most of the time chocolate tempering appears to be an intimidating process that belongs only to the “experts” and we would rather stay away from the process, if at all possible. I believe that this book has the the potential to alleviate that fear and perhaps some readers will be able to give a try to the practice. The book is educational, even for a professional chocolatier.
5. Chocolat, by Joanne Harris. It’s the book that the movie “Chocolat” was made. I liked the movie; I am not crazy about the book, although it is well-written. I assume that if I would read the book before watching the movie, my opinion about the book may be different.
6. Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul/Spirit/Heart, by Kay Allenbaugh. Where is the chocolate in this book? Big disappointment. The book does contain interesting life-stories but the title is misleading, as well. Forget about it.
7. Chocolat: Riches from the Rainforest, by Robert Burleigh. A beautifully illustrated history and explanation of chocolate. A definite, coffee-table type of book.
8. Celebrate with Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers. If you enjoyed Marcel Desaulniers’ “Desserts to Die For” and loved “Death by Chocolate” , “Celebrate with Chocolate” is just another glorious book of Desaulniers. He truly understands the love affair so many of us have with chocolate. How many other cookbooks do you know that have recipes named like “Bob’s Big-Ass Chocolate Brown Sugar and Bourbon Birthday Cake” and “Mrs. D.’s “She Ain’t Heavy Chocolate Cake?” There are plenty of other recipes with less provocative titles, but just as great looking creations. I know you’ll love this book as much as I do and will create similar stains on certain pages, although it may not be on the same pages that I did.
9. Passion: Recipes and Inspiration from the Kitchens of Chocolatier Magazine, by Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty. It has luscious chocolate desserts from experts. The authors bring together their knowledge and obsession for chocolate in a collection of 54 stunning chocolate dessert recipes. The book is divided into dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate recipes. “Death by Chocolate”, a sundae with dark chocolate ice cream, white chocolate-coffee- hazelnut whipped cream and fudge sauce, is so extravagant that you will be hiding the recipe when serving the dessert. Most of the recipes are tempting and presented clearly and invitingly. I ave not seen another book with that many recipes using white chocolate; so white chocolate enthusiast – this book is definitely for you.
10. New Taste of Chocolate by Maricel Presilla (revised). The author provides us with lots of interesting recipes written with great skilland emphasis on clarity. If you are a newcomer to chocolate history, this is a great introductory book for you. The recipes (about 35 of them) range from the traditional-with-a-twist (like chocolate-covered plantain chips) to European classics like Sachertorte, to the adventurous (chocolate-garlic spread, anyone?). Please note that many of the more traditional recipes call for specialty ingredients or equipment, like achiote or dried rosebuds or a corn grinder—not exactly the most practical for day-to-day cooking and no purchasing resource provided. But there are enough challenging sweet and savory recipes to keep a well-versed home cook busy for a while.
11. A Biter Sweet Saga of Dark and Light by Mort Rosenblum. Rosenblum’s book digs deep into the worldwide love of and obsession with chocolate in a series of essays that take the author from the Central American jungles to remote islands and back to the streets of Paris. Rosenblum is a highly entertaining writer who inserts himself into all his stories and enjoys his chocolate tasting role. I am surprised how he manages to be slim after that much “melting in his mouth?” The book is a collection of stories and personal research through chocolate salons and cacao farms of the modern world. He covers the venerable chocolate manufacturer, Valrhona in the same book with Hershey? I guess, no discrimination here. Rosenblum is a great storyteller and the book is highly recommended.
12. La Maison du Chocolate: Timeless Classics with a Twist by Gilles Marchal. This is a great recipe-resource book that should be added to the collection of anyone interested to develop their own repertoire, based on the guidance of a Master. The brilliant chocolatier and pastry chef Gilles Marchal, head of La Maison du Chocolat, revisits the recipes that made the shop famous, and brings us a host of creative new recipes, as well. I still cannot get over some of the most eccentric creations, like red and black ganache floating in champagne or foie gras dipped in chocolate fondue, Marchal writes about. If you are the adventurous-type, this book is definetely a great resource for you. The photographs are also magnificent.
13. La Maison du Chocolate. Transcendent Desserts by Robert Linxe. Linxe is a well-known and highly respected and admired chocolate artist. Actually, some call him the father of ganache. The book has a great section about the various cocoa beans and their use by chocolate artists. The book is the first and the only source where Linxe reveals his fascinating chocolate-making knowledge and how he perfected the challenging candy-making process. You must own a copy.
14. The Art of The Chocolatier: From Classic Confections to Sensational showpiece by Ewald Notter. This a great reference book if you are interested to learn to create tasty, show-piece quality bonbons. I would not expect anything less from Ewald. I have seen him working “up close” when taking his class. He is a true professional with reputation that is way above the crowded pastry chef community. Although, I am not a great fan of the “Swiss Method”, the way he presents his creations, you cannot help, but admire the artist. I must tell you that I am not a pastry chef, but I created a show piece in his class that it was decorating my table for months; nobody believed me that it was I, who created that beautiful flower sitting on a crescent-shape moon. Why did I tell you that? Because that is how good instructor is Mr. Notter; and you can expect to use his book to enhance your knowledge about chocolate and create fantastic truffles and bonbons for your family, friends and even for business.
15. Chocolates and Confections at Home with The Culinary Institute of America, by Philippe Andrieu. This is another reference book for creating amazing artisanal confections. Pastry Chef and Professor, Peter Greweling takes you by your hand and guides you in a step-by-step fashion how to create your best confections and make it even better. The book is also packed with such useful information as must have equipments and how to use them, ingredients and how to select them and tips for troubleshooting. The book has more than 150 photos that illustrate key techniques as well as the finished product. By owning this book you will be able to create your own picture-perfect confections, desserts, candy bars, nuts-based products and more. I highly recommend to own a copy.
16. Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan. Pierre Hermé is one of the best pastry chef in the world. Hermé hired Dorie Greenspan to do the writing (as an experienced food writer), but Greenspan turned out to be more than “just” a writer in this collaboration. The reason for the huge success of this cookbook is the perfect match of the two. Greenspan, in addition to writing, also tested the recipes and assisted Herme to select those that seem to fit a home kitchen. The book is organized in a way that you start “easy” but as the pages grow, so do the complexity of the recipes. The book also has a glossary of ingredients and terms and other useful relevant data. The recipes are written in such details that even a complex recipe appears to be manageable. The basic thing to remember is that these are all Pierre Herme’s creations; therefore they all exceptionally creative. Most importantly, they all work. It is a gem of a cookbook for a chocolate enthusiast.
17. Making Artisan Chocolates by Andrew Garrison Shott. Shott, a former pastry chef for Guittard Chocolate and owner of Garrison Confections, created one of the most innovative and advanced cookbook about chocolate, confections, artisanal creations and more. He was named one of Pastry Art & Design’s “Ten Best Pastry Chefs in America” and was recognized as a “Top Ten Artisanal Chocolatier” by USA Today. He uses top quality chocolates to create top quality confections and all the home cook has to do is follow the well-written recipes. He also decided to expose the home cook to methods of creating artistic centerpieces and decorations. The book is very attractive and a nice addition to a collection.
Essence of Chocolate : Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate by Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger. Scharffenberger has become one of America’s pioneer artisanal chocolate manufacturer. The recipes are a collection of nventions that were tested along with the chocolates Sharffenberger and Steinberg (his partner) were developing. They employed top professionals in their test kitchen, so the recipes are actually were created by such high-caliber pastry chefs as Flo Braker, Jim Dodge, Thomas Keller, and Stephanie Hersh. The chapters are arranged by chocolate intensity and complexity of the desserts and confections. Most formulas seem to be manageable, although some maybe too complex for a novice. They also advising the home cook not to use chocolates less than 62% because it may alter the taste, as well as the texture of the product. It is obvious that Both Sharffenberger and Steinberg were obsessed with chocolate and wanted to create, nothing less than a “perfection”. I believe they achieved their goal. The first of three sections, “Intensely Chocolate,” features divine classics like That Great Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes, and Chocolate Mousse. The “Essentially Chocolate” part takes a lighter approach. A “Hint of Chocolate,” the most interesting section, is added so that such basics as breads, muffins and waffles, as well as savory dishes can be included in a sophisticated book, such as this one is.
PLEASE NOTE: I gain nothing by recommending any of the books; my reviews are my opinion only.
IV. Educational Blogs about Chocolates
1. Smithsonianianmag.com – the publication has a great article about the history of chocolate
2. Guardian.co.uk – the dark side of chocolate.
3 The Sweet Lure of Chocolate – Exploratorium Magazine devotes this entire online-only edition to the sweet wonderfulness of chocolate. It contains the following articles: Chocolate in the Forest; An American Invention; Chocolate Invades Europe; From Bean to Bar; Health Help or Risk?; “Feel Good” Food; and more…
4. Seventy Percent. This site is loaded with information. Select from the chocopaedia to learn all about chocolates and their makers, read blogs, join in events, and more.
5. allchocolates.com – a wonderful site. It has information about pairing chocolates with wine and other alcohols; it has an online class about chocolate tasting; lots of information about the health benefits of chocolate; plenty of creative recipes; it teaches you how to work with chocolates and more. Well worth your time.
6. A Dozen Candy Coated Classroom Activities. This is a great site for children’s education. Children learn math, geography, history and more using chocolates. What more can you ask for?
7. Swiss Maid. http://www.swissmaidfudge.com – contains a great chocolate dictionary.
8. Chocolate University Online. Most recent article discusses the benefits of chocolates and red wine. There are multiple reports about the many health benefits of chocolate. The site also contains some creative chocolate recipes.
9. Chicago Fairtrade (http://www.chicagofairrade.org). I am sure you heard about chocolate and Fair Trade, but was wondering what that means. This site contains a good article about this important topic.Everybody should read it and get informed.
10. Primal Chocolate Blog. (http://www.primalchocolateblog.com) The site has a good chocolate tasting article, nutritional information and 101 chocolate facts.