The Chocolate Cult: Great Cookbook for Chocolate Lovers

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Great Cookbook for Chocolate Lovers

Are you looking for a last minute gift for the chocolate lover in your life who also loves making their own goodies? Are you in need of guidance for your own holiday party? The cookbook, Chocolate for Beginners by Kate Shaffer, may what you are looking for. Keep reading to find out. The publisher, Rockridge Press, sent me a free copy of this book in the hopes that I'd review it, this article is a bonus for them; no other form of compensation was received in exchange for my honest evaluation.

There are four parts to this cookbook but the recipes are only the fourth section. If you have not made chocolate candy or used more than basic chocolate chips or cocoa powder in recipes, do not skip the introductory parts.

Party One: Getting Started covers more than the chapter title, "Chocolate 101," suggests. Yes, you get details about different chocolates and terminology associated with chocolate. You also get information about what types of equipment and ingredients are used in the recipe part of the book. Don't freak out if you do not have every piece of equipment: I don't have a food processor either because where would I keep it in my kitchen. Each recipe will list the ingredients and the equipment that you'll need; just skip over ones that you do not have the requirements for. I was impressed by how much time is spent on couvertures version chocolates, a topic we've covered here many years back when we used Guittard couverture over the course of several months. Note: It can be a challenge to find couvertures so again, if you don't have them or can't afford them, just skip those recipes.

Part Two : Fundamental Techniques covers topics that I do think are more basic in that they will be used over and over in the recipes. The topics covered are Melting, Tempering (something I don't do enough of because of time), Coating, Molding, and Decorations. Of these five techniques, the decorating is the most advanced so I appreciate that it is the last covered. Honestly, I think the hype over melting only certain ways is generally overdone. For your own pleasure, I say as long as you stay away from water and have patience, you can use low heat and not burn your chocolate. I've never burned my chocolate whether I used a glass or metal pan over direct heat or just used the microwave.

Part Three: Other Essential Techniques gets into more specific creations of types of candies or ingredients. The chapters cover Ganache, Candied Nuts, Caramel, Brittle, and Toffee. Again, if you are really trying to get into the chocolate biz, making everything from scratch is appealing but for the average person just doing this for family or friends, I don't think using premade caramel or candied nuts is a problem. Think about the time you have and the money you have.

Part Four: The Recipes are what most of you are interested in, am I right? There are five chapters of chocolate treat categories that I'll list below along with any recipes I tried from that chapter.

Chocolate Confections
Cookies, Brownies, and Bars
Cakes, Pies, and Tarts
Mousse, Puddings, and Other Desserts
Sauces and Drinks

If you decide you want to give someone this cookbook for the holidays or another special occasion, consider including either a piece of kitchen equipment or ingredient that the receiver may not have on hand. That will help them feel more confident in their recipe choices and they may be more likely to share their creations with you in the future.

Note: I'll try to update the list of recipes I try as I do so. One of the joys of online publishing is that I can do this no matter how much time pass.

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