No doubt about it: chocolate rules. Celebrating this happy fact is Marcel Desaulniers's Death by Chocolate Cakes
, another installment in his bestselling Death by Chocolate series. These books bring chocolate sweets to, well, heart-stopping heights. Cake
, which contains 50 or so recipes for goodies such as Chocolate Heart of Darkness Cakes (dense chocolate cupcakes with a molten chocolate-truffle center) and Excessively Expressive Espresso Fantasy (chocolate ganache-filled chocolate espresso cake topped with espresso mousse), also includes formulas for chocolate ice creams, drinks, and sauces--all in all a true debauch. Though its recipes are painstakingly written and easy to follow, most require multiple, technically exacting preparations; aside from chocolate voyeurs, they'll be of greatest interest to reasonably skilled bakers with time to spare.
Desaulniers divides his recipes into chapters such as "Baby Cakes," "Mom's Cakes," "Celebration Cakes," and "Sky-High Cakes." This portioning is somewhat arbitrary as the drill is usually a lusciously filled and topped layer cake. Delicious exceptions include My Little Kumquat Cake and Uncle Sam's in the Black Cake. If Desaulniers is given to a jokey cuteness (as evidenced by the above recipe titles), and neglects sometimes to describe his cakes so readers can make informed baking choices, he is careful to provide illuminating tips on equipment and techniques throughout. With 50 mouth-watering color photos, the book should bring great pleasure to all chocolate lovers, on the page and at meal's end. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
The chef of the Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Va., Desaulniers (Death by Chocolate) offers 50 extravagant, elaborate, indulgent chocolate cakes. These are not treats for the kitchen shy, requiring as they do many phases and, within each phase, many steps. But the outcome is so luscious and Desaulniers is so charming and persuasive, it's hard to believe it's not time well invested. Sprinkled liberally throughout are anecdotes about the author's mother, his childhood and various recipe contributors, who include friends and family members, fellow pastry chefs and their relations. There are cakes served at the Trellis as well as recipes handed down from generation to generation and those discovered "on the road." Recipes for adorable baby cakes, whose size belie the intensity of their flavor, include Heart of Darkness Cakes, in which bakers are instructed to "remove the muffin tin from the oven and, moving quickly, place a single frozen truffle in the center of each portion of cake batter." Chocolate Chunk Cookie Cakes meet the demand for a tasty confection that can withstand the indignity of being plopped in a lunch box. There are also big event cakesAamong them, Julia's [Child] Eighty-fifth Birthday CakeAas well as cakes from out of town, such as The King's Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bourbon Cake, based on Elvis's favorite sandwich. The book concludes with an assortment of accompaniments, such as instructions for chocolate honey and a recipe for a wicked cocktail called Chocolate Temptress (think vodka and Frangelico). Many of these confections go over the top, but chocoholics will eagerly follow Desaulniers wherever he leads. (Sept.)
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