>/a>If you’ve ever wondered what differentiates French chocolate from Swiss chocolate from Belgian chocolate. Or wondered how chocolate goes from beans on trees to high priced bars in fashionable stores. Or was curious about how some of world’s finest chocolatiers got their start. Then you need look no further than Mort Rosenblum’s Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light. Written as part fine chocolate ethnography and part first person travel log, Rosenblum looks at chocolate not as a mere confection, but a cultural phenomenon worthy of study at every stage from the growing and harvesting of beans to the art of processing, production, and presentation.
An easy and well worthwhile read for the confirmed chocophile.
Couture Chocolate: A Masterclass in Chocolate
by Willam Curley
Aurum Press (November 1, 2011)
Fine artisan chocolates should look as beautiful as they taste. Willam Curley’s Couture Chocolate: A Masterclass in Chocolate takes it a step further moving artisan chocolates from culinary creations to five-star food artistry.
From the first page to the last, the exquisite photographs are a rare treat in chocolate as fine art. Photographer Jose Lasheras redefines chocolate photography in his exquisite staging of the chocolates. His culinary choreography tells stories of taste, texture, color and shape. I found myself wanting to reproduce the staging of the photographs with my own chocolates the way a person reproduces the paintings of the great masters to learn their technique.
For me, pretty pictures alone do not justify buying a cookbook. When it comes to Couture Chocolates amazing photographs are merely one of its assets. This book is equal parts art book, recipe book, and first-rate instruction manual.
The book begins with a chapter titled “Chocolate Essentials” that lays out the basics of working with fine chocolate. Topics include a clear and concise explanation of the different types of chocolates as well as sections with tips on tasting chocolate and advice on shelf life and storage. There is even a sidebar addressing the differences between making chocolates in a commercial kitchen versus a home kitchen.
What makes this chapter standout are the sections on tempering chocolate and making a basic ganache. I would go so far as to say they are worth the price of the book. Because tempering and making a basic ganache are two of the most important skills involved in making fine chocolate desserts, one cannot underestimate the importance of their mastery. Each skill set is presented with well-crafted photographs and approachable text such that one feels as if Curley himself is giving you a personal demonstration. I particularly appreciated the sidebars addressing such topics as the benefits of using inverted sugar and the issues involved in tempering small amounts of chocolate.
The high standard set in this first chapter of the marriage of detailed and clear photographs with thoughtfully written instructions for the novice chocolatier continues throughout each chapter. From truffles to molded and enrobed chocolates, to bars and plated desserts, each recipe is more than a list of ingredients. Recipes are the foundation to take the reader on a tour of all things involved in that particular type of chocolate delight. No issues or nuance of composition is too small to address in words and photographs.
I bought the book after following William Curley on Facebook. I have a large library of chocolate cookbooks, probably didn’t need any more, but I’m so glad I purchased it. I find I learn something every time I open the book to look up a recipe or a technique. If you are just learning to work with chocolate or are a seasoned home chocolatier, this book is a must-have.