Book Review - Chocolate Passion: Recipes and Inspiration from the Kitchens of Chocolatier Magazine|
by Wen Zientek-Sico
Are you passionate about chocolate? Then this cookbook is definitely for you! Full of useful information, incredible recipes, and beautiful photographs, this is the perfect book for any chocolate lover.
Recipes and Inspiration from the Kitchens of Chocolatier Magazine
About the Cookbook
Chocolate Passion is every chocoholic's dream book. One of the many excellent cookbooks recently published devoted to chocolate, this book really stands out from the pack. This collection of over 50 recipes is designed for the professional chef, experienced home cook, or chocolate fancier. Written by the editors of Chocolatier magazine, the recipes are decadent, scrumptious, and elegant. And very chocolatey.
The book itself is broken up into five chapters. The first, A Passion for Chocolate, is a marvelous blend of ancient legends, history, science, a glossary, helpful tips, and a lot of rhapsodizing about the joys of chocolate. This chapter is full of little facts and fascinating sidebars, which alone are worth the price of the book. A nice blend of the useful and the entertaining, it covers everything from an in depth discussion of the various types of chocolates to a collection of gone, but not forgotten, candy bar names. A glossary of chocolate related and general baking terms makes preparing the recipes easier. Step by step instructions and photos for some of the decorating techniques used in the book are also included. Perhaps the most valuable component of this section is the several pages devoted to baking and candy making equipment. Complete with photos and in depth descriptions, you will finally be able to see what a wood grain tool or decorating comb look like. The chapter is rounded out with a list of very simple instructions for basic cooking procedures that are required in many of the recipes, such as toasting nuts and frosting a cake.
White Chocolate Desserts, the second chapter, jumps right into the good stuff with 15 excellent white chocolate recipes. While many are actually a mixture of chocolates, like White Chocolate Chip Fudge Cookies, Tahitian Vanilla Swirls, and White and Dark Chocolate Scallop Shells with Mocha Ganache, there are many desserts that rely solely upon white chocolate. Confections like White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake and White Chocolate Opera Cake take traditional recipes in very different directions with pleasing results. Truly unique flavor combinations are blended in recipes such as White Chocolate Margarita Mousse (a smooth mixture of citrus, white chocolate, and tequila) and Summer Truffles (white chocolate truffles made with lemongrass and coconut).
"The world's favorite chocolate", according to the authors, is lovingly embraced in chapter three, Milk Chocolate Desserts. With 17 decadent recipes, the world can find plenty to be happy about. A tremendous brownie recipe, Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies with Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Filling, starts us off, and it just keeps on getting better. We tested two of the recipes in this chapter, Milk Chocolate and Golden Almond Cakes and the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Pie. Both desserts, like most of the recipes in the book, were time consuming to prepare, taking a little over an hour each in active preparation, and almost a whole day to complete because of baking, cooling, and chilling times. The detailed instructions made both recipes easy to prepare, and they were worth all of the effort. Other recipes of note in this section include the much simpler Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut Bark, Milk Chocolate Rocky Road Ice Cream with Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Peanut Gianduja, and the delectable Toffee Pecan Madelines.
The fourth section, Dark Chocolate Desserts, is devoted to semisweet and bittersweet chocolate. A mixture of desserts both time tested and unique, with 23 recipes, this is the largest section. Classics such as Pain Au Chocolat, Individual Baked Alaskas, and Black Forest Cake are included, with incredible ideas for decoration and service. Boyle and Moriarty's spin on that restaurant staple, the flourless chocolate cake, is also highlighted in this chapter. Their Flourless Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Drizzle was greeted with supreme ecstasy by my taste testers and is truly one of the best chocolate confections you will ever make or taste in your life.
Home to the most intricate recipes, Dark Chocolate Desserts contains the most time consuming ones as well. Only three recipes require less than an hour of active preparation, with some requiring a whole day or even several days to prepare. Even seemingly simple candies, such as the Caramel Rum Kisses and Pistachio Pyramids require over 3 1/2 hours of active kitchen duty and each take up six pages with their ingredients and descriptions. There are a few recipes that are very straight forward and simple, however, such as the Dark Chocolate Madelines with Mint Chocolate Glaze and the Dipped Bittersweet Chocolate Scones with Rum-Macerated Dried Cherries which can be prepared start to finish in about an hour. Complex desserts like the Black Forest Cake and Le Marigny can be made without the optional decorative accents, while still keeping their remarkable flavor. Many of the other really time consuming recipes in this chapter are actually collections of smaller recipes grouped together, which are impressive in their own right. One of my favorite recipes from the book, Ganache-Filled Fried Wontons, is actually part of a much larger and time intensive recipe, Ganache-Filled Fried Wontons with Ginger Ice Cream and Chocolate Sorbet. The individual ice creams and sauces that make up the killer Death by Chocolate are also superb, especially the Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream which is truly decadent and may almost be worth dying for all by itself.
The last section, The Chocolate Guide, is devoted almost exclusively to a well organized list of merchants, complete with contact information and details about what they sell. The lists include companies that make chocolate, general baking equipment, specialized equipment, and other ingredients. There are also listings devoted to those who sell gift baskets, novelties, confections, and baked goods, just in case you are inspired to eat chocolate by this book, but not necessarily make it yourself. A useful metric conversion chart is also added at the very end.
Chocolate Passion is not only rich with recipes and useful information, it is filled with the most enticing photographs. Each dessert has a full color, beautifully styled photograph which not only gives you a great idea of how the recipe should look upon completion, but also offers many excellent serving and garnishing suggestions. Many of the recipes would be simply impossible to create without the pictures, so they are a valuable tool as well as an enjoyable visual experience. While some of the photographs elicit a response more along the lines of "I will never in my whole life be able to make this recipe" such as the Black Forest Cake and Le Marigny, others cannot help but draw you in because of their unique or very appealing appearance. Recipes that immediately went on my "had to try" list because of their appearance were "The Sunflower", Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Pie, Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Mice, and the decadent White Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Cake.
This book is essential for any serious chocolate aficionado or cookbook collector. Even if you never make a single recipe from Chocolate Passion, the collection of photographs, useful information, handy tips, and amusing tidbits make it worth while. The easy to follow step by step directions, mouth watering photos, and superlative results make most of the recipes worth tackling for any cook. The most complex and time consuming recipes provide inspiration, even if they do not provide the incentive to spend hours working in the kitchen. Chocolate Passion should be required reading for every chocoholic, and will maintain our passionate relationship with chocolate for many years to come.
About the Authors
Tish Boyle is the food editor of Pastry Art & Design and Chocolatier magazines in New York City. She has worked in the food business for the past thirteen years as a caterer, pastry chef, and food stylist. Ms. Boyle is a graduate of Smith College and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris, France.
Timothy Moriarty is the features editor of Pastry Art & Design and Chocolatier magazines. He has worked in the publishing industry for over fifteen years and has been editor-in-chief and founding editor of several consumer magazines. Mr. Moriarty is also a novelist and freelance writer.
Together, Boyle and Moriarty have published a wide range of cookbooks together. Their first book, Grand Finales: The Art of the Plated Dessert was published in 1997 and received a Julia Child Cookbook Award nomination. Their second book, A Modernist View of Plated Desserts was published in 1998. Their fourth book, Neo-Classic Desserts will be published this Spring.
Where to Buy
If you are interested in purchasing Chocolate Passion: Recipes and Inspiration from the Kitchens of Chocolatier Magazine by Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty, you are likely to find it among the dessert cookbooks at any large bookstore. Many libraries also carry this particular book. You can also buy it online and save oodles off of the list price by clicking here. The publisher's list price for the cookbook is $39.95.