by Kate Heyhoe
The most recent ode to chocolate comes from the maestro of Death by Chocolate and similar tomes, Marcel Desaulniers. In Celebrate with Chocolate: Totally Over the Top Recipes, Desaulniers once again emphasizes chocolate's merry mirthfulness. For sophisticates, a Christmas Tree Stump replaces the traditional buche de noel. The young at heart can nibble on Chocolate Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies. Fruits and their flavors team with the esteemed cacao bean in Champagne Fritters with Chocolate Grape Surprise, and other desserts of cherry, orange, blackberry, and strawberry.
In The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes, Maricel E. Presilla covers the whole bean story, guiding readers into the Latin American tropics to see the human face of cacao farming and to learn its history-the miraculous leap from bitter cacao seed to food of royalty in Aztec Mexico, and later Spain, Europe, and beyond. She writes of cacao pods from experience: "They were large oval fruits of many shapes and hues: some rounded and smooth, others longer with bumpy skins and long-ridged grooves, colored in splendid shades of orange, russet, yellow and green. I was entranced until my father cut open the first pod. Instead of chocolate-colored beans to eat like candy, I found a strange mass of lumpy tan-colored seeds enclosed in a sticky, glistening ivory pulp that did not even smell like chocolate." But, she soon learned, the pod was a source of culinary magic.
As she did in her bestselling book, The Cake-Mix Doctor, Anne Byrn returns to her mission of helping busy cooks find the time to bake (even when company is not coming), but this time with a chocolate theme. In developing Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor, she determined the best-tasting chocolate cake mixes and the best ingredients with which to doctor them. "I have discovered that you don't need to use fancy European chocolate to create these desserts-supermarket chocolate works just fine!" During this busy holiday season, taking a few shortcuts to creating luscious chocolate cakes seems mighty enticing, and Byrd gives you the necessary recipes and tips for quick success.
Caprial Pence and Melissa Carey must have a chocolate passion, for even though Caprial's Desserts isn't totally devoted to chocolate, this favorite ingredient works its way into most of the recipes in the book. With such seductive pleasures as Chocolate Turtle Torte and Tiramisu Ice Cream, no one is likely to complain.
Alice Medrich brings chocolate to every celebration imaginable, from Day of the Dead Cookies to Chocolate Latkes. In A Year in Chocolate: Four Seasons of Unforgettable Desserts, she offers a small collection of recipes that prove: chocolate knows no season.
Finally, The Ultimate Brownie Book is another tome that permits non-chocolate recipes, but don't think a chocoholic can't get a seriously good fix out of Bruce Weinstein's collection. Following Anne Byrd's path, Weinstein even includes doctored brownie mixes, along with from-scratch inspirations like Cocoa Nib Brownies and Brownie Pancakes. As he aptly describes, "If brownies weren't real, we'd have to make them up. Both fudge and cake, they're part confection, part pastry. In other words, they're the stuff of dreams."
Whatever you're dreaming of this holiday, or whatever cheer you're looking to spread, I'm sure these authors all agree: you can never go wrong with chocolate.
Totally Over the Top Recipes
by Marcel Desaulniers
New Taste of Chocolate
A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes
by Maricel E. Presilla
the Cake Mix Doctor
150 Easy Recipes For Deep, Dark, Delicious Cakes
by Anne Byrn
by Caprial Pence and Melissa Carey
A Year in
Four Seasons of Unforgettable Desserts
by Alice Medrich
Thousands of Ways to Make America's Favorite Treat
by Bruce Weinstein
Copyright © 2002, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created 2002 and modified November 2006.
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