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Chocolate Holidays: Unforgettable Desserts for Every Season Paperback – October 1, 2005
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The beloved Alice Medrich, renowned for the impeccably written and tested recipes that have three times earned her Cookbook of the Year honors—most recently from the IACP for BitterSweet—offers fifty stellar, amazing-tasting chocolate desserts, each a little jewel of elegance and simplicity. Chocolate Holidays unlocks the secrets of our favorite sweet.
Turning her attention to the year’s most special occasions—New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries, Hanukkah and Christmas, and every day in between—Medrich has created dozens of memorable desserts that will help to make the traditions and memories of your celebrations all the more unforgettable.
Whether your holiday festivities are large or small, whether you tend to the homey or the glitzy, you’ll find everything you need in this boutique collection. This revised edition of the previously published A Year in Chocolate includes an extended section on ingredients, equipment, and decorative touches and detailed notes on how to customize the recipes to use the chocolate of your choice.
First published in hardcover as A Year in Chocolate (Warner Books, 2001) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
Dramatic, seductive, playful, infinite in its variety, otherworldly in its taste: It's chocolate, and here's all the impetus you need to indulge your passion for it every day of the year. The beloved Alice Medrich, renowned for impeccable recipes that produce stellar results, has written Chocolate Holidays especially for people who love to bake but don't have enough hours in the day. Without compromising on flavor, texture, or ingredients, she pares down the preparation steps, teaches us restraint, and comes up with fifty amazing recipes, each a little jewel of elegance and simplicity.
An ideal year in chocolate might start with a New Year's brunch starring Chocolate Blini with Berry Caviar. Then there are Valentine's Day chocolate scones and St. Patrick's Day Irish Coffee Chocolate Mousse. And of course any "holiday" your imagination can conjure up is a perfect reason to indulge: perhaps a decadently rich hot chocolate served in demitasse portions to exorcise those end-of-February blues.
Spring might whisper chocolate Giant Krispy Easter Treats or a Passover Chocolate Nut Sponge Torte, or white chocolate-glazed Apricot Orange Cupcakes for a wedding shower. Summer suggests fruit and ice cream desserts such as the Independence Day red, white, and blue sundaes, followed by autumn's pies and tarts laden with chocolate and nuts. And no matter what you've been putting on the table for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays past, it will be out-chocolated by Alice's Chocolate Cranberry Pudding and her Chocolate Hazelnut Rouladeboth unequivocally year-end musts.
In Chocolate Holidays, Medrich unlocks the secrets of our favorite sweet, offering chocolate desserts for every season, for every reason.
First published in hardcover as A Year in Chocolate (Warner Books, 2001)
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from the Canadian Jewish News, Hanukkah 2007
While Jews of Eastern European descent celebrate Hanukkah with mountains of latkes, Sephardic Jews fry sufganiyot. But for everyone - and every holiday - there's always...chocolate?
Yes, just about everyone's favorite ingredient never goes out of season, claims award-winning author Alice Medrich, whose book "Chocolate Holidays: Unforgettable Desserts for Every Season" (Artisan) offers 50 luscious, decadent recipes to crown every holiday and celebration.
"I wanted to do a season-to-season book," said Medrich by phone from her Berkley, California, home. "Other ingredients we like to cook with change with the seasons. The constant is chocolate."
Jewish cooks know that Hanukkah is all about the oil. The symbolism goes back to ancient times, when Judah Maccabee and his tiny army defeated the Syrian-Greeks and recaptured Jerusalem. In attempting to rededicate the Temple, they found only enough oil to burn for one day. Miraculously it lasted eight days, and we've been celebrating with a frying frenzy ever since! But who says traditional potato latkes are the only fritter fit to fry?
"Chocolate Banana Blintzes are fried, and Hanukkah is a great excuse to serve them," noted Medrich. "They are just so delicious, a fancy party dessert that's easy to do." Restraint, she said, is sometimes the secret ingredient. "A little burst of chocolate sauce in a hot crepe with bananas is more seductive than a chocolate blintz with chocolate filling," she writes.
Another lesser-known Hanukkah tradition involves the story of Judith, a beautiful Jewish widow, who dined with the enemy general Holofernes. She plied him with cheese to make him thirsty for wine, and when he fell into a drunken stupor, she beheaded him with his own sword. Because her bravery is said to have inspired the Maccabees, some communities remember Judith by eating cheese during this holiday.
A delicious way to honor this unsung legendary heroine is with Honey Drizzled Chocolate Cheese Fritters, a recipe Medrich adapted from one by Marcella Hazan. The ricotta cheese batter with finely chopped chocolate and a hint of orange may be prepared up to two days ahead and fried within two hours of serving. Keep them warm in a 200°F. oven, and drizzle them with maple syrup instead of honey, if you prefer.
Hanukkah wouldn't be Hanukkah without latkes, but grandma never dreamed of pancakes like this: Chocolate Latkes, with not a potato in sight. Heaps of chocolate and coconut combine to produce a crunchy, yet chewy cookie with a soft, almost brownie-like interior. Fill an edible chocolate-coated pretzel basket with the latkes for an eye-catching centerpiece. Smaller baskets can even hold chocolate Hanukkah gelt, coins traditionally given to the children on the holiday.
Medrich, whom the San Francisco Chronicle once dubbed the "patron saint of chocoholics," was the founder of Cocolat, the legendary and innovative Bay Area pastry company that revolutionized chocolate making from the mid 1970's to the early `90's.
"Chocolate Holidays," a revised edition of the previously published "A Year in Chocolate," includes an extended section on ingredients, equipment and decorating ideas as well as "chocolate notes," taking the guesswork out of selecting among chocolate varieties.
"All the changes and updating of chocolate make it more interesting to work with," noted Medrich. "There are different blends of beans that now engage us."
Whether she's brewing a simple hot chocolate or spinning sugar for chocolate cream puffs, this master teacher encourages rather than intimidates with clear, precise instructions. The most important tip for a beginner in working with chocolate, she advises, is what the French call mise en place, setting out and preparing all the ingredients in advance.
"Baking is meditative. There's a sequence of things that you do. It's not free-form like cooking. Once you measure and prepare everything in advance, you dance through the steps. There's a sense of discipline about it, the familiarity of doing a favorite recipe. It's a pleasing ritual."
Medrich is passionate about chocolate year-round and claims to eat it every day. "I'm certain there are health properties in chocolate," she noted, "but it shouldn't be an invitation to gobble down a lot of candy or desserts with extra sugar, cream and fat. Enjoy the good stuff, and don't eat too much of it."
No matter the holiday or season, chocolate's seductive powers to comfort and astound are almost universal.
"Of all the special, quote, unquote, gourmet foods, chocolate is one of the only ones we have all loved since childhood," Medrich observed. "It's not an acquired taste. Maybe we liked milk chocolate and have grown to like bittersweet, but it's always been there for us. It's not intimidating. We didn't have to learn to like it, like coffee, wine or caviar."
I have both "Chocolate Holidays" and "A Year in Chocolate" and the main difference is that Alice dropped her editor and managing editor from the Acknowledgements :-) The number of pages hasn't changed (a good thing for the editor: the references still work :-) The "new" book claims to have "an extended section on ingredients, equipment, and decorative touches and detailed notes on how to customize the recipes to use the chocolate of your choice"... hmmm, let's see. Hey! "microplane" is now spelled "Microplane"! And the listings for Pastry Tips and Pastry Brushes have been flipped! Pastry Brushes goes first now!!
The only added feature (the aforementioned "detailed notes on how to customize the recipes to use the chocolate of your choice") is the "Chocolate Note" that appears on some (not all) of the recipies. Calling this feature "detailed" is a bit of a stretch, especially since many of these Notes consist primarily of "You can use any domestic bittersweet or semisweet chocolate that does not have a percentage on the label, or any boutique or imported brand marked 50 to 72 percent." Wow. Thanks. *Cough*
I love ya, Alice, but you could have done yourself (and your fans) a greater service by publishing this tome under its true title ("'A Year in Chocolate : Four Seasons of Unforgettable Desserts' Second edition, featuring a few cosmetic tweaks but the same pics") or, even better yet, given yourself full justice and treating us to another edition of "Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts" (a book that could be reissued without revision and still be worth rebuying 8-)