by Alice Medrich
Alice Medrich's name has been synonymous with chocolate for 20 years. She first staked her reputation with Cocolat, her San Francisco Bay Area chocolate and dessert stores which reigned as the connoisseur's Mecca in the 80s and early 90s. After selling the business, she gilded her standing with three award-winning cookbooks, Cocolat (Warner, 1994), Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts (Warner, 1995), and Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies (Warner, 1999). Together the books have sold over 100,000 copies and have won a cornucopia of cookbook awards.
In her newest ode to her favorite food, A Year in Chocolate: Four Seasons of Unforgettable Desserts (Warner Books), Medrich delectably explores chocolate's year-round versatility. After a lifetime of working with the ingredient, Medrich still appreciates chocolate's "whisper and roar". In A Year in Chocolate, she dances deftly between these extremes to create 50 easy-to-prepare recipes that whet the appetite all year round.
For fall, Alice selects autumnal fruits, hot ginger and warm spices, toasted nuts, and almost anything caramelized to complement chocolate. The results: Ripe Figs with Mint Ganache, a Honey and Walnut Tart and Chocolate Cranberry Bread Pudding, to name a few. Winter is her excuse for indulging in a wave of bittersweet, with Hot Chocolate Souffles, the Ultimate Flourless Chocolate Cake, and more. Spring signals change. Alice delivers with recipes including Ice Cream Easter Eggs and Apricot Orange Wedding Cakes and Mocha Marble Cheesecake.
Summer's sultry temperatures posed a special challenge for the chocolate-loving chef Alice overcame a prejudice against white chocolate, by pairing it with lemon, infusing it with fresh mint, or whipping it over coffee meringues to create a sensational Strawberry Mocha Meringue. Other warm-weather desserts are a study in contrast, combining hot and cold, crisp and creamy, tart and rich chocolate to make Hot Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches and Boardwalk Bananas.
A Year in Chocolate is a collection of seasonal ideas, including holiday desserts worth celebrating. Whatever the calendar turns up, Medrich responds with a festive flair, including: Maya's Day of the Dead Cookies, Chocolate Hazelnut Roulade AKA The Fastest Christmas Yule Log, Ice Cream Easter Eggs, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries for Mom, Chocolate Banana Waffles for Dad, and Independence Sundaes. Jewish celebrations are also deliciously observed, with Chocolate Latkes, and for Passover, Brownies, Chocolate Nut Sponge Torte and Gateau au Chocolate.
Medrich also includes projects to enjoy with the kids, such as creating a nest from Chocolate-coated Pretzels, and making a "prehistoric" Chocolate Krispy Egg.
While Medrich was still running one of San Francisco's most prestigious bakeries, making new desserts was as easy as grabbing freshly baked layers of cake or meringue, a cup of fresh butter cream, or chocolate leaves. Now, working in her home kitchen, Medrich is conscious of the limitations of the home cook's time, space and ingredients. Thoughtfully, she keeps these recipes simple, so desserts awe the tastebuds without taxing the baker's patience.
With four seasons of chocolate, it will surely be a year to savor and remember.
Alice Medrich's culinary career was first lauded as the founder of Cocolat, the groundbreaking San Francisco Bay Area chocolate and dessert company launched in 1977, and expanded to seven stores before the company was sold in 1990. At Cocolat, Medrich raised the standards of baking by specifying ingredients of a quality and sophistication unparalleled in the domestic baking and candy industries. For her leadership role, she was awarded the prestigious Wine and Food Achievement Award from the American Institute of Wine and Food (1991).
Today, she is best known in culinary circles as the author of award-winning dessert cookbooks. Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts (Warner Books, 1990) is winner of the James Beard Foundation's Cookbook of the Year Award and the International Association of Culinary Professionals Julia Child Award for Best First Book. Her second book, Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts (Warner, 1994) was also recognized by the James Beard Foundation as Cookbook of the Year. In addition, Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies (Warner, 1999) received Food & Wine Magazine's Best of the Best Award for 1999. She is also contributor of three dessert chapters in the revision of the classic, The Joy of Cooking (Scribner's, 1997).
Medrich has appeared as a featured chef in the PBS series, "Baking with Julia" and with Joan Nathan in "Jewish Cooking in America". She lives in Berkeley, California, with her daughter Lucy.
Festively boxed and wrapped, or lovingly arranged on serving trays, baking, decorating, and giving these cookies are a joyous way to celebrate the spirit of the season with your family, friends, and faraway loved ones.
A Year in Chocolate:
Four Seasons of Unforgettable Desserts
by Alice Medrich
Hardcover Publication date: October, 2001
$25.95 FPT / 176 pages
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created January 2002
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