Established in 1996, Scharffen Berger has become America's preeminent maker of cooking chocolate. Essence of Chocolate, by the firm's founders and food writer Susie Heller, offers more than 100 recipes for a broad selection of delights like Chocolate Pudding Cakes, Chocolate Marbled Gingerbread, Cocoa Caramel Panna Cotta, and Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake, as well as savory edibles made with chocolate like Tortilla Soup and Chile-Marinated Flank Steak. Unusual recipes also include the likes of Chocolate Chunk Challah and TKOs, a homemade version of Oreos that leaves those favorites on the supermarket shelf.
Arranged by chocolate intensity, the recipes come from the company's files and from chefs including Flo Braker, Jim Dodge, Thomas Keller, and Stephanie Hersh. Although the formulas vary in difficulty, most are within the range of all cooks interested in making something terrific. Readers should note, however, that the recipes require chocolate with specific cocoa-solids contents--62% semisweet, for example--that may be difficult to find. Most cooks will know, however, that one high-quality chocolate of similar cocoa content can usually replace another. With narrative sections in which Steinberg and Scharffenberger trace (at perhaps excessive length) their career trajectories, interesting asides such as "Bread and Chocolate," lots of chocolate lore, and a good primer on how chocolate is manufactured--plus color photos--the book makes a happy addition to the chocolate lovers' kitchen library. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In their first cookbook, the founders of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker are clear from the start: chocolate is their passion. Every section of their book reflects that, from the recipes drawn from the Scharffen Berger Company and various pastry chefs to the detailed sections on how chocolate is made and where its future lies. The first of three sections, "Intensely Chocolate," features divine classics like That Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes, and Chocolate Mousse. The "Essentially Chocolate" part takes a lighter approach with Soufflé, Chocolate Ginger Pots de Crème, and Chocolate Biscotti. In "A Hint of Chocolate," the most interesting section, chocolate is added to basics such as breads, muffins and waffles, as well as savory dishes like Chile Marinated Flank Steak (made with cocoa powder) and Tortilla Soup (with bittersweet chocolate). Throughout the book are "Legends & Lore," delightful one-page chocolate trivia facts (such as how Devil's Food got its name), and "Quick Fix" pages, with instructions on fast and easy chocolate treats like chocolate-dipped potato chips and pretzels. Beautifully simple photographs complement the elegant recipes. (Nov.)
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