Encyclopédie du Chocolat

18 04 2011

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.

Foodie's Reading Challenge

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.

Encyclopédie du Chocolat

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.

note the lovely book in the background...

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.



14 responses

18 04 2011
Chez Loulou

Darn! I love technical, “encyclopedia” like books but just ordered some books yesterday so I’ll have to wait a bit before I can get this one. It looks fabulous! And that tart…heavenly!

19 04 2011

This sounds like the perfect book for any kitchen-although I an not sure if I would want it in my kitchen-I would be yearning for chocolate constantly.

19 04 2011

Yum! I was lucky enough to taste-test that tart and it was amazing. I think book reviews are a great idea and am excited to see what you choose next. It is making me miss my boxes of food books and cookbooks shoved to the back of closets in CA.

19 04 2011

Ha! Camille, I see right through you! I know for a fact that your praliné is always perfect😉 This sounds like an amazing book, and with such a pedigree behind it! I’m equally impressed that you read it in French. I already know you’re fluent and all, but it’s still impressive🙂

19 04 2011

Loulou – I love information-heavy books, too. What did you get?

Esme – It’s a real danger.😉

Melissa – I still have yet to finish a certain book you lent me…

Hannah – After phone conversations with the electric company and the internet provider, reading about chocolate in French is a breeze! 🙂

21 04 2011

I love the idea of your imagination running wild with chocolate! How fun!

21 04 2011

Ann – It *is* fun! 🙂

22 04 2011
Fiona at Life on Nanchang Lu

Bravo Camille! Great to see your review for the Foodies Reading Challenge! This great looking book had me drooling at the cover. Do you think it’s too advanced for the everyday home cook like me? Or has something for cooks of all skill levels?

22 04 2011
The Mistress of Spices

This sounds like a great book! If I ever get over my fear of patisserie and decide to experiment a little, this sounds like it would be the perfect resource to get started. That action photo of the ganache tart is delectable! Think that I’ll have a little square of chocolate now.

23 04 2011
Chez Loulou

I ordered Le Code de la Route (boring!) and The White Queen. Husband also got a book about baseball. Bon weekend!

23 04 2011

Fiona – There are plenty of recipes that a home cook could make, plus the instructions are very clear and precise such that you can learn and advance through the book as well.

Mistress of Spices – Pâtisserie is nothing to fear. 🙂

Loulou – And a Happy Easter weekend to you, too!

24 04 2011
Tammy McLeod

I can’t believe Hannah hasn’t read it already!

24 04 2011

I have a huge collection of cookbooks already but always room for a an encyclopedia about chocolate. I loved our visit to Valrhona chocolate in Tain-Hermitage; chocolate heaven.

26 04 2011

Tammy – I bet if it was in English, she would have! 🙂

Michel – Oh, you’ve been to the mothership? How exciting! I’d love to go someday.


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