As the season of ice cream and cold desserts arrives, let's look at the attractions of chocolate. Whether for serious purposes or just for fun, The healing powers of chocolate by Cal Orey is worth a look. This recent publication discusses history, serious health studies and discoveries, then turns to home remedies for which chocolate is the cure. At that point, it turns into a bit of a hoot. Supposedly, chocolate will cure constipation and diarrhea, brain fog and cabin fever, anorexia and weight gain, and, the ultimate, universal emergencies! Towards the book's end she tucks in a chapter on "nine top-notch U.S. chocolatiers," and she wraps it all up with a section on where to buy chocolate products--divided by type, such as beauty products (facial masks and the like) and healthy chocolate. For shopping, she recommends the website www.worldwidechocolate.com. I add my recommendation--it has terrific brands and products.
Before writing this, I had never heard of using cocoa nibs (chunks of cocoa after roasting and shelling, not sweetened or processed) in cooking. Now I find mention of them all over, including on the website mentioned above. The initiation came from The essence of chocolate: recipes for baking and cooking with fine chocolate by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg--and I have to admit, the recipes sound really good! Roasted squash is a favorite of mine, and the roasted squash with nib vinaigrette sounds out of this world. Another suggestion was to sprinkle nibs over oatmeal--oh, yeah, I could go for that in a big way.
For an unremarkable book that, yet, has some yummy recipes and easy but attractive ideas, try Alice Medrich's Chocolate holidays: unforgettable desserts for every season. Cakes aren't my favorite chocolate item, but the chocolate peanut butter layer cake and the chocolate sour cream layer cake sound delish. Her coffee meringue mushrooms, along with the gianty krispy egg, are charming! Check here for more summer party ideas, whether for Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day or birthdays.
Marked with a ribbon and, oh, so full of rich, lovely pictures and recipes, The golden book of chocolate by Carla Bardi and Claire Pietersen is a wonder. Just browsing through it gives one a sugar high. If a person can imagine an ingredient mixed with chocolate, they will discover it rendered here. Huge and hugely popular, this book has sections for cookies, puddings, candy, elegant desserts, drinks, savory dishes and more. I can't wait to try the wild boar in spiced chocolate sauce (although we may substitute pork)! This one is going home with me for the weekend.~ Tessa