Chocolate lovers should be very afraid of Essence of Chocolate, since it will likely have even those of us who are not true addicts consumed with cravings for this decadent treat. Everything about this cookbook - from its warm and inviting cover showing smooth, rich chocolate being drizzled onto a double-layer chocolate cake, to the mouth-watering photographs of culinary delights readers will learn to prepare, to the basic information and history of an ingredient that has an ever-expanding fan base - make it a text everyone should purchase and savor.
Authors John Scharffenger and Robert Steinberg have created an inviting recipe collection, though just reading the story about how they entered the chocolate business alone makes this book an interesting read. Steinberg, a medical doctor, became involved in the chocolate business a few years after being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and deciding to leave his practice. John Scharffenberger, skilled at working with bold, unique flavors due to his impressive background in wineries, decided an adventure in chocolate would be a great next step in his career. Together they created Scharffen Berger to produce fine chocolate certain to satisfy our universal indulgences, and they put together this cookbook to share their experiences and impressive knowledge about this ingredient and its boundless potential.
The recipes presented here are classified quite loosely into three major sections and each final product is, without exception, photographed masterfully. The first section, Intensely Chocolate, focuses on the richest treats, ranging from chocolate pudding cakes and molten cakes, to orange chocolate ganache tart. The second section, Essentially Chocolate, includes milder recipes, such as those for a chocolate soufflé and black and white crème brulee. I found the final category A Hint of Chocolate to be incredibly eye-opening, since it showcases recipes that use chocolate in a supporting role to enhance other flavors rather than being the main ingredient in a traditional dessert. For example, in this section you will find a simple recipe for a chocolate rub that provides an interesting and bold flavor for chicken, steaks, and vegetables - and was the result of a simple curiosity of one of the book’s authors.
Essence of Chocolate is just as much a resource guide about everything chocolate as it is a cookbook. It includes an abundance of information relating to the history and production of chocolate, most of which will likely amaze even those people well-versed in the art of dessert making. The book presents information as basic as the three types of cacao to some interesting trivia, such as that a Swiss chemist named Henri Nestle was the first to combine chocolate and milk in 1873.
This book will likely appeal to a wide range of people by expanding the minds of those who associate chocolate with a readily available supermarket candy bar and encouraging those who have an appreciation for finer chocolate to raise that appreciation to a whole new level.