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Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate Hardcover – October 25, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1St Edition edition (October 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401302386
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401302382
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By VTS on December 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What's Good: There are many things to love about this book. Let's start with presentation - it is beautifully bound and nearly every recipe is accompanied by a gorgeous photograph. Though I understand that not every cookbook can include photos I still give them bonus points when they do. It's not just about seeing what the finished product will look like; I also love to sit and leaf through the recipes, enjoy a sort of visual feast. "The Essence of Chocolate" is entirely satisfying on this front.

The recipes are both unique and varied, ranging from favorites such as cakey brownies and chocolate drop cookies to more exotic things like cocoa chiffon cake, banana caramel cake and candied almonds. The recipes are not limited to desserts. This book also includes unexpected dishes that incorporate chocolate, for instance, chili-marinated flank steak and BBQ sauce. The Chocolate Pull-Apart Kuchen I made last month came from this book, as did my Apricot & Chocolate Challah, which was based upon this text's recipe for chocolate chunk challah. (See: Baking and Books dot com) Content is organized both by type (dessert vs. savory dish) and by the amount of chocolate required.

In addition to recipes, "The Essence of Chocolate" has incredibly helpful sections on chocolate techniques and types of chocolate. It also includes information about the history of chocolate and the Scharffen Berger chocolate company. I enjoyed the fact that I could cozy up with this book and indulge in a fascinating foray into the "legend and lore" of chocolate. Where else would you learn about the role it played in Mayan and Aztec rituals or about its part in Marie Theresa's marriage to King Louis XIV?
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`The Essence of Chocolate' by Scharffen Berger Chocolate founders, John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg is a `culinary memoir duet' where the principal authors take the roles more of `Executive Producer' than true writer or even editor. Most of the recipe writing chores are assumed by a fairly large stable of well-known chocolatier practitioners such as Alice Medrich and David Lebovitz plus a number of other culinary luminaries such as Rose Levy Beranbaum, Michael Chiraello, Michael Richard, Jacques Pepin, Thomas Keller, and Rick Bayless. Most of the yeoman's work on the book appears to have been done by Suzie Heller (a collaborator with Jacques Pepin and Thomas Keller), the recipe tester and (I suspect) editor, Ann Krueger Spivack (a collaborator with Cat Cora and Michael Chiarello), and `Bouchon' photographer, Deborah Jones.

Scharffenberger and Steinberg are former vintner physician respectively, who joined up in the early 1990s to create what has become the only native American producer of very high end chocolate. Scharffenberger contributed a knowledge of the food business and Steinberg primarily contributed the scientific background which enabled these two chocolatier newbies to make a go of it in a small space with a small budget and with practically no experience in the chocolate business. Their most substantial contributions to this book are memoirs on how they got together and got into this business, plus essays on the future of cacao agriculture in the primary cacao sources in Central America.

I was just a bit surprised that the more technical culinary content of this book is as light as it is.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lynn on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
beautiful book with original chocolate recipes that i haven't seen before... and i own lots of lovely cookbooks. I'm so picky when it comes to adding to my cookbook collection and this one deserves to be a part of the collection.

Tonight i made The Chocolate Cake recipe which was intense, very rich and delicious. Like most of the chocolate cake/cupcake/baked hot chocolate cake recipes in the book they are RICH... so experiment with the percentage of cocoa and have fun baking. I think all the chocolate cakes need to be served with fresh (homemade whipped creme) for the perfect taste and mixture of sweetness.

This book also makes for a beautiful gift
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By James K. Carroll on January 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book not only has great recipes, but it teaches you so much about chocolate and the process of making chocolate. It is detailed but not overwhelming. The pictures are beautiful and the recipes are practical and easy to follow.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Holly-Rosing on February 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a combination coffee table book and cookbook. Gorgeous photos and simple, but wonderful desserts. Just started trying some and they are great. Don't be afraid to dial back the chocolate percentage if you need to. For the Chocolate Almond Cake I used 70% instead of 82% for the filling and 62% instead of 70% for the glaze and it came out perfectly. And the stories inside are very interesting. Perfect book for the chocolate baking fan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chicago Book Addict TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It seems that so much of what I make involves chocolate in one way or another so I was very excited to stumble upon this book. However, I also couldn't help but be skeptical. With so many cookbooks devoted solely to chocolate would this cookbook be worth a purchase? The answer was a resounding yes.

What makes this cookbook stand out from so many other chocolate-focused cookbooks on the market is the sheer variety of recipes. Inside you'll find not just classic recipes like rolled truffles, fudge, and simple chocolate cake, but also more unexpected recipes like a chocolate-laced BBQ sauce, homemade chocolate liqueur, and a salad that calles for cacao nibs as a garnish. The result is a cookbook that not only covers the basic chocolate recipes a cook would want to have in his or her repetoire, but also unsual ones for the more daring. Thus, even if you already have a good collection of baking books on hand this cookbook serves as a great supplement. I have also been impressed with everything I have made. The BBQ sauce solicited rave reviews and the salad with cacao nibs and chocolate liqueur were also heavenly. I also consider these dishes to be the beginning for me, there were so many dishes that sounded and looked appealing that quite a few have landed on my "to make" list.

In addition to being a great cookbook, Essence of Chocolate also includes quite a bit of history about the production of chocolate, techniques, and the story of their company. To be honest, I was least interested in the story of their company, but those who are fans of the chocolate brand may find this interesting.
Overall this is a very solid cookbook. I thought I would find only one or two recipes that differed from the books already in my collection, but instead found a wealth of gems I haven't come across elsewhere. Highly recommended.
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