Thursday, 29 April 2010

Latest Editions to my Chocolate Bookshelf


I am very easily seduced into buying cookery books, so find it best just not to look at them. However, a few weeks ago, I foolishly ended up one rainy lunchtime browsing through the cookery section of a bookshop. This was definatily not a good thing for my purse! I came across a fabulous book by Paul A Young and fell in love with it on the spot. I have since found out, of course, that he is a well known and respected choclatier in London dabbling in the more exotic and innovative end of things. Whilst I was umming and aahing over this one, I noticed a little chocolate book by the Tanner brothers and as they are local, how could I not do my local food supporters bit? I'd also long had Willie's much feted book on my wanted list, so why not go for broke I thought? I thus ended up with not one but three new books about cooking with chocolate.

Adventures with chocolate / Paul A Young
According to the front cover, this contains 80 sensational recipes and I have to say they are certainly unusual recipes. A true chocolate alchemist, Paul is not shy of trying out some very strange chocolate combinations. The book itself is a joy to handle, it is beautifully presented and darkly redolent of alchemy and mystery. He starts off with what you would expect from any good chocolate book: how to buy, taste and identify chocolate; two methods for tempering; moulding; also storing and how to make a basic truffle and ganache. More unusually, he goes on to talk about experimentation, making tea powders to decorate truffles and which flavours go best with what sort of chocolate: Madagascan goes particularly well with tangy flavours such as lemongrass and passionfruit whereas Ecuadorean is more suited to fresh coconut or garden mint - apparently! So let me give you a flavour of some of the more exotic recipes contained within: wasabi and green apple ganache, chocolate, ginger and cardamom teabread, sweet thyme and sugar-cane muffins, blackcurrant and liquorice truffles, honey-cured bacon, Stilton and chocolate sandwich, salted black olive bars, chocolate martini, goat's cheese and lemon ganache. There are some wonderfully delicious sounding recipes in this book which I haven't mentioned, so I hope this hasn't put you off.

For chocolate lovers: from truffles to tiramisu / The Tanner Brothers
The Tanner brothers are a local phenomenon - as well as appearing on various TV cookery programmes (apparently), they have two restaurants in Plymouth. Tanners is a classy restaurant set in the Prysten House, the oldest surviving domestic building in Plymouth (1498). Their second restaurant, the Barbican Kitchen, is housed in the Plymouth Gin Distillery, another historic building in Plymouth where the Pilgrim Fathers are said to have spent their last night before sailing in the Mayflower (CT wonders what they were doing drinking gin). The book is only 64 pages, but has recipes for hot and cold puddings, ice cream, cakes, pastries, petit fours and drinks. If this hadn't been of local interest, I probably wouldn't have bought it, but it does have some unusual recipes as well as some more traditional ones. White chocolate and chilli ice cream, chocolate and Devon blue cheese tart and chocolate tuiles are some that jumped out at me. The photographs are rather lush. It also has a section on tempering and making chocolate decorations.

Willie's chocolate factory cookbook / Willie Harcourt-Cooze
Need I say more? I've browsed through this every time I enter a bookshop and have read about it on other blogs. Even though I don't have a television and missed his Channel 4 series, his reputation is hard to avoid. Be prepared for some heavy duty reading as a considerable proportion of his book with its 223 pages describes his adventures in Venezuela and Devon in pursuit of the best quality cocoa. This included buying a cocoa farm in the Cloud Mountains of Venezuela and setting up his own chocolate factory in Devon. His collection of recipes includes both sweet and savoury dishes. As a vegetarian I didn't take much notice of the meat dishes in the savoury section, but the cocoa dressing for Puy lentils sounded good as did the porcini & chocolate risotto. Some time ago I bought one of Willie's blocks of 100% cocoa, but have hardly dared use it for more than grating over a couple of dishes as it is fiendishly expensive. Now I have bought the book, I think I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and make something soon - probably his Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake as I have heard so much about it!

So, you may wonder, why haven't I made anything from any of them yet? Suffice it to say, it usually takes me a while to savour and get to know new things a bit before I feel comfortable with them. I have been planning to make Paul's cocoa nib biscuits as a first off, but as many of his recipes involve tempering chocolate it could take me some time to give them a go. I've got plenty of books giving instructions on how to do this and advice from various bloggers but I still feel rather nervous of trying it "all by myself" - I'm not really sure why. I think it's like the bread course, I just needed something to give me a kick start - unfortunately I haven't heard of any chocolate courses down in this part of the world.

25 comments:

  1. I can't help but laugh - I'm the same as you when it comes to cook books. We're going to have to move into a house soon just so as my library doesn't take over our flat!

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  2. Oh cook books - they may well be the death of me and definitely will be should the shelves ever collapse when I am standing near them! I like the sound of Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake. I very much look forward to your post about that. Let me know how the tempering goes. If I had the chance of choosing a dream career it would be a chocolatier.

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  3. We have the Adventures in Chocolate book too. I fell in love with it straight away, just from the sumptuous pictures. Will hopefully, make a few recipes from there. The end section is pretty amazing.

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  4. Great books...I too love to see my recipe book collection growing! Lucie x

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  5. Choclette, the porcini and chocolate risotto from Willie's book is gorgeous! Just don't go overboard on the cacao - it only needs a tiny bit to give it real oomph...

    Thanks for the reviews on the other books!

    Celia

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  6. I'm such a sucker for a new book and like you, buy them more than one at a time ;-)

    These all sound good - time to add them to my wish list!

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  7. Chele - due to lack of space, I keep having to have periodic clear outs - it's always hard!

    Kath - yes looking forward to the Cloud Forest, but may need to wait for a suitable occasion. As for tempering, there are just so many things to do - which is mostly exciting.

    CityHippy - oh good, look forward to seeing what you get up to then.

    Lucie - just need an expanding no. of bookshelves too!

    Thank you Celia - I will be careful not to use too much cocoa when making the risotto as I will most certainly be doing at some point.

    C- be careful!

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  8. I've got Willie's one and the Tanner brothers book - you can never have too many coobooks, especially choc ones!
    PS. The mum of the Tanner brothers works at the same school as me - she is the PA to the headmaster. One of the brothers did the prizegiving last year!

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  9. Nicisme - that is a coincidence. Did you get a Tanners cooked meal for the prizegiving? I've only eaten at their restaurant once, but it was a meal to remember.

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  10. Choclette, they sound like excellent buys. I particularly like the Paul A Young book ... I've not seen it here. Would it be worth an amazon purchase??

    And you are so right about Willie ... need you say more. The book is written exactly the way he talks/describes and his passion comes through. Have you checked out 4oD to watch Willie's programmes online?

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  11. Gillian - Yes, I think you would like it - lots of interesting truffle recipes amongst other things. However, the one recipe I have tried was a little odd on the ingredient quantities - shall be blogging about that at some point - cocoa nib cookies.

    After writing this post, I did watch some of Willie's programmes on 4oD - way over the top, but hugely enjoyable.

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  12. Hi Choclette,

    I was very fortunate to do an hour’s long Chocolate Tutorial session with Paul A. Young a couple of years ago when he visited the Abergavenny Food Festival. Absolutely amazing experience as he talked us through eating about a dozen of his fresh made chocolates. The chocolate marmite one was divine-and I hate marmite! Really nice chap and clearly passionate about his work.

    I’ve since visited his shop in London a couple of times-just the aroma of warm chocolate as you walk inside is enough to almost make you swoon with delight!!

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  13. Oh very lucky you. I've heard so much about Paul and his wonderful creations. The odd exchange on Twitter is about all I've managed. Interesting to hear the marmite chocolate didn't really taste of marmite - it's one I've found very difficult to get my head around AND I like marmite. So much to try!

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  14. I received this book for Christmas and love it! A great buy/gift for any chocolate lovers!

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  15. Loved WIllie's programmes when they were on!

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  16. I was bought Willie's book as a Christmas present and I must say it's become one of my most used cookbooks. The fact that chololate can be used in savoury dishes as well as sweet had never occured to me before. Just wish they would re-run the Channel 4 tv series again as I missed it first time round and would love to see him making his wonderful creations.

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  17. Feel I should buy these books now!

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  18. I think I'd love the adventure side of Willie's cookbook. Fab.

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  19. I think I need my own Chocolate book collection - would be handy to have them all together! xoxo

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  20. I'd also like to read Paul Young's 'Adventures with Chocolate' book as you don't want to keep in a chocolate rut.

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  21. Some excellent ideas for presents.

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  22. Great book, love all chocolate!

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  23. Excellent books here, truffles are by far my favourite type!

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  24. Thanks for the reviews, I'd love some new books xx

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