Oh Cookbooks…Lovely lovely cookbooks. I have a huge love affair with them. I adore browsing bookstores and can look for hours. Often I read cookbooks in bed instead of novels. I can read one cover to cover in a single day if I have the time. I also love cooking magazines. In this page I would like to share some of the books that I enjoy or think need to be left on the shelf. Frequently I will pick up a cookbook at the library because my hubby says I cannot keep buying them. Not only is it too expensive to keep up the habit but the towering piles of books around the house have gotten out of control. I am trying to adjust to downloadable books but I still love to actually hold books while reading but I am making the transition to the downloadable books because it makes sense environmentally.
I picked this one up at the libarary.
It is an older book published in 2005 by the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Company. So I wrote a review of this book yesterday and then went to work. I kept thinking about what I wrote and it made me wince. Ugh. It sounded like a book review of a 6h grader. So what I liked about the book….I had to come back and re-do this review and stop worrying about the fact that I am definitely not a writer.
So, here we go….Here is how my interest in fine chocolates has been piqued. Stay with me here as I might go on a bit. When I owned my cafe at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) in Boulder I was always running to the store to grab something before lunch. Some fresh herbs, more bread etc. My doctor has me on a low carb diet because I need to lose weight and so I avoid candy. My husband and kids had been bringing home these locally made chocolate bars that they would seem to hoard and take little bits off of and stretch them out like they were bars of gold instead of candy. I was breaking my diet for some stupid reason and decided to try one of those bars. They actually had little ones so I grabbed one. The company who make this enchaning chocolae is Chocolove. The bar was their milk chocolate bar.
So I get back to the kitchen and start back to work. While I am working I open the little bar and take a nibble. It made me do the food slump. What is the food slump? When you eat something amazing and it makes you kinda slump. Your shoulders relax, you head falls a bit to the side, you knees go soft and you close your eyes as you go into a little state of ecstasy. Ok, no one else does that? “Really”?
I look at my pastry chef Genny and holler “that is evil”!
Evil, I say! But so very yummy.
The tiny bar was gone in seconds and I have been tormented by these chocolate bars ever since. And very interested in chocolate. I have had good chocolate before and usually choose good chocolate to bake with but what makes good chocolate and why is it good. I decided to look into it.
I grabbed this book from the Longmont Library. It is now overdue so I have to get it back and just buy a copy on Amazon.
In the beginning of the book Robert Steinberg talks about as a physician he decided to change careers when he found he had leukemia. An intense interest in food and chemistry brought him to chocolate making and the rest is history. You can read more about it in the book. He hooks up with John Scharffenberger after John closes his winery and they decide to make chocolate. Sounds like a winning combo to me and it definitely is.
The book is divided into chapters with recipes that are designed around the intensity of chocolate in a recipe interspersed with chapters that educate you on chocolate making, cacao growers, history of chocolate etc. The first chapter has some useful techniques and it also describes some of the tools Susie Heller uses in her kitchen.
What also interested me was the educational part of the book because I wanted to learn more about chocolate and the fact that the contributing chefs who designed recipes around fine chocolate are some serious big dogs in the industry. Susie Heller, Thomas Keller and Alice Medrich are some of the participants in making this book and their contributions are some of the best recipes designed around chocolate I have seen. Most of the recipes are designed by Susie Heller.
One of my favorite tips in the techniques section tells you to melt chocolate in a water bath by setting a metal bowl over a wide deep skillet of simmering water. I would usually use a deeper pot but the skillet allows you to see the water and if it becomes too hot you can turn it down right away. You have to be careful no water splashes in the chocolate. Love it.
I adore it when truly talented chef’s share techniques like that.
I am working on some of the recipes from this book and will post pictures and thoughts about how they worked in an update. I will also post more about my quest to find out as much as I can about chocolate.
Genny my former pastry chef is now at a place called Peace Love and Chocolate. Check this store out if you are down on Pearl Street in Boulder Colorado. I had a chocolate cheese cake that made me do the food slump. OMG.