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Pure Chocolate: Divine Desserts and Sweets from the Creator of Fran's Chocolates Hardcover – October 26, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; First Edition edition (October 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767916581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767916585
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.9 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By alleycat on December 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Having read all of Alice Medrich's books (chocolate goddess), I came to this book with lower expectations but this book delivers way beyond what I could hope for. Not only are the photos much nicer, the directions and commentary are totally nuetral, taking on a practical and sincere approach for the reader. The recipes are really good too. Highly recommend!
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Yum! The first recipe I used from this book was the Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake... one bite and I was sold on Fran, her chocolates and any future book(s) she chooses to bless us with. The cheesecake was beyond divine, and Fran's helpful notes and glorious pictures make the recipies fun to follow. The recipies are within reach of the casual cook, yet will fulfill the dreams of the most ardent chocoholic. If you love chocolate you'll adore this book! (All I ask from Fran is that she keeps producing chocolate and books... thank you Fran!!!)
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Wow, wow, and wow!!!! I don't even know where to start with this incredible encyclopedia of chocolate!!! But as I am rarely without words regarding chocolate, let me begin!!

Fran bigelow knows her stuff........there are no two ways about it. She did not become a powerhouse by accident. She has worked hard for all the success that has come her way, and she has passed her love for this venue of gastronomic pleasure on to you, if you choose to take it.

Without getting too chemistry-like in her teaching, she tells you all about chocolate and how it wants to be handled. You can try to do it on yor own, but face it, chocolate can be very tempermental, and if you don't know the subtle complexities of its makeup, you will loose time and money. She will guide you if you just take the time to learn from one of the Masters.

The book contents are:

Introduction

Everything you need to know about chocolate

Amazing cookies and brownies

Tortes, with and without flour (for celiacs & gluten-sensitive)

Elegant tarts

Celebration cakes and holiday specialties

Sumptuous cheesecakes, puddings, and custards

Chilled spectaculars

Silken dessert sauces

Five beverages and a snack

Truffles and other fine chocolates

Building blocks

Sources

Index

Just for the sake of an example of what anyone can do, I tried the cake on page 107 called "La Reverie". Holy cow!! You would of thought that I had studied at the Cordon Bleu; it was fabulous and soooo not hard to make. Plus you will make so many new friends that you never knew you had.

She's the best and that's because she is a great teacher and the recipes don't require a degree in chemistry, architecure, or design. Go ahead and try it..........
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Format: Hardcover
I love to bake and especially with chocolate. This book is worth its weight in Scharffen Berger! Such a good book...generally easy recipes if you are able to be patient, read the recipes thoroughly and follow the instructions to a "T". :) I've made every birthday cake out of this book, hosted several parties featuring the truffles in here, as well as the brownies...ice creams...it's just a fantastic book. I've tried almost all of the recipes and none have fallen short of delicious.
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By alaskafan on February 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A jewelry counter may be eye candy, but Fran's Chocolate's in Seattle is as well! And this is their cookbook! AMAZING! What's not to love? If you are a chocoholic, you will keep this book at the ready-- the mousse is worth the price of the book!
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I'm from Seattle and I'm familiar with Fran's Chocolate's. This book is the quality I expected from such a high quality chocolate shop. If you're a Chocoholic, this book is required reading.
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Fran Bigelow is the Queen of the Chocolate World. She truly is a master of chocolate. I live in Florida, and it is a little difficult to get to her shop in Seattle. So the next best thing is her chocolate book. This book has all the great recipes that made her famous. It has a whole chapter on types of chocolate and the secrets to working with it. Chocolate is very delicate and must be worked within very specific temperatures. She has a lot of great photos and illustrations to make it easy.

She gives you her recipes on cookies, brownies, torts, birthday and holiday creations, cheesecake, puddings, custards, and even chocolate drinks. She has a complete chapter on great recipes for truffles and other chocolates.

I really recommend this book, for the techniques and recipes. I love it.
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I have a nice collection of cookbooks but as it can get a little "out of hand", I try to limit my new purchases...but: this one was a must and although I have only made the Chocolate Sables so far (they actually developed an even better depth of flavor after a day or two!), just reading this book is worth the price! It helps, of course, that I became familiar with Fran's incredible chocolates when I lived in Portland, OR! I knew her high standards and had faith the cookbook would follow suit. It did!!
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