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.
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.
Hello, I’m Choclette. I’m a vegetarian home cook and whole food recipe developer. I have a passion for flavour, cooking with the seasons, baking and chocolate. Welcome to my award winning blog. Here you'll find delicious and nutritious recipes that are mostly easy to prepare and definitely easy to eat.