Way back at the beginning of the year, upon learning of it on Fiona’s blog, I signed myself up for the Foodie’s Reading Challenge. I have since posted about zero (0) books. It’s downright shameful. I mean, reading and cooking are two of my very favorite pastimes. So here goes nothing.
My very thoughtful husband bought me this absolutely fantastic book for Christmas, and I’ve been wanting to write a little bit about it but haven’t really known where to start. It is, after all, an encyclopedia. An Encyclopedia of Chocolate, to be more precise, edited by Frédéric Bau, the director of the chocolate school for Valrhona.
It is a sumptuously photographed book, which make it a delight to flip through, licking my lips at the mouthwatering pictures. But it’s full of useful information, too. The first part of the book is dedicated to techniques and basic recipes. As a professional, this is probably my favorite part, because if I’m wondering, for example, why my praliné isn’t setting up properly at work, I can find the answer here. (the mixture is probably too warm, in case you’re wondering.) Or how to substitute dark chocolate for milk chocolate, and vice versa – the cacao percentage in a chocolate can have drastic effects on a recipe if you’re not careful. Or say I just want to make Nutella from scratch.
I also love having such a great set of base recipes such as ganaches, pâte à choux, cream fillings, mousses, and caramels. That way I can play around with the individual components and let my creativity run free. Knowing that I have a good recipe as a jumping-off point is always a good start.
There’s an excellent illustrated section towards the back which shows the equipment used in professional pastry and chocolate shops. Since it’s in French, this section is invaluable for my working vocabulary.
In the middle are the recipes, grouped by category (Grands Classiques, tartes, and so on) with one recipe per chapter presented by a French celebrity chef. Gilles Marchal of La Maison du Chocolat, Jean-Paul Hévin of best chocolat chaud in Paris fame, and Cyril Lignac of just about everything are among the participants.
Encyclopédie du Chocolat even won the award for best chocolate cookbook at this year’s cookbook festival in Paris.
When I finally decided to see what this book could do, I looked to the classic ganache tart.
Of course, it came out beautifully. For a photo of the finished product, as well as the resulting recipe, click on over to the Recipe of the Month at Girls’ Guide to Paris.
If you’re interested in buying the book yourself, and you can read French (the English version is due in October of this year), I’ve assembled a few links that might help you do so. It’s up to you to figure out which one is geographically appropriate for you.
Encyclopédie du Chocolat at Valrhona Chocolate (US)
Encyclopédie du Chocolat at Amazon (Canada)
Encyclopédie du Chocolat at Amazon (France)
On this day in 2009: Kicking it Old School
Originally published on Croque-Camille.