A history of chocolate in Seattle predated the opening of Fran's some 20 years ago. But Fran Bigelow single-handedly altered the entire landscape. She had meant to open a pastry shop and discovered that truffles were among the deep dark concerns of Seattle residents. Her Gold Bar became a gold standard for adult candy bars, in Seattle and then across the nation. Fran Bigelow would never claim the renown she so deserves, but would instead most likely spread the credit around like a chocolate butter glaze on one of her earth shattering cakes. But the proof is in the pudding and the pudding--called Princess Pudding--can be found on page 140 of Pure Chocolate
, Fran Bigleow's distillation of all she knows. She holds nothing back. She shares freely, confidently.
"If you are patient and understand its unique properties," Bigelow says in her introduction, Everything You Need to Know About Chocolate, "chocolate will repay you with the most perfect pleasure." Can you imagine? Perfect pleasure? Bigelow unlocks the secrets, one after another. She cautions all along, however, that patience is essential. "If you're one of those folks who thinks life is too short to stuff cherry tomatoes," Bigelow intones, "you may not have the patience for tempering chocolate." She establishes up front the basic rules of working with chocolate, then proceeds to act like best friend and coach in each and every recipe. The experienced baker and chocolatier may jump right in. For the new comer, Fran suggests those recipes that are easiest to master and act as building blocks for more complex procedures. Your results, in other words, are guaranteed.
In 10 chapters Bigelow moves from cookies and brownies (you may think you know brownies; you may want to reconsider), through tortes, tarts, cakes, cheesecakes, puddings, and custards. Pure Chocolate is worth its weight if only for the chapter on ice cream and sorbet. There are glorious sauces and delicious chocolate drinks. And finally, the chapter on truffles that begins with the introduction to tempering chocolate, one of the great mysteries on the kitchen.
Seattle learned 20 years ago that all it thought it knew about chocolate had to be relearned over and over again with return after return to Fran's. That this fabulous experience has been packed in between two covers and sent home to the diligent cook, well, that's Fran Bigelow right there, sharing all she knows. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
Artisanal chocolatier and baker Bigelow, who owns Fran's Chocolates in Seattle, knows her bean, and it shows in this generous, appealing collection of chocolate recipes. Many of her signature treats boast finishing touches that add a bit of glamour: Her L'Orange, a fruit and nut torte, is topped with Chocolate Butter Glaze and is "pebbly with almonds"; an entire chapter of "Silken Dessert Sauces" such as Chocolate Espresso Sauce offers quick finishes with oomph. Bigelow has a professional's eye, seen in White Chocolate Coconut Cream Bars that show off pretty stripes from the side, and Triple Chocolate Pyramid, constructed by cutting a rectangular cake into two triangles, then stacking them against each other, but she's sympathetic to the home cook, too, immediately offering a list of easy recipes that'll deliver "a quick chocolate hit." After a clear explanation of tempering chocolate, Bigelow whips off a list of Quick Treats with Tempered Chocolate, like Dipped Cherries and Nut Clusters. While all these confections are inventive—Dylan's Birthday Cake hides a chocolate filling made tangy with crème fraîche; Brie White Chocolate Cheesecake proposes an intriguing combination—none are silly or gaudy. General information on such topics as working with chocolate and holding a chocolate tasting are equally commonsense, never condescending. 40 photos.
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