Cookbooks

Gift guide

Cookbooks

Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor

by Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage

Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 199 pp., $35

Fine chocolates are all the rage these days: the more unique and esoteric in origin, the better. In Chocolate Obsession, renowned San Francisco confectioners Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage team up to produce a new chocolate cookbook that is as attractive and challenging as the chocolates and pastries that made them famous. The book is well-organized, offering solid information about the new quality boutique chocolates made with high percentages of chocolate liquor, and all the recipes are designed to make use of them. There are descriptions of the necessary tools, tips, and explanations of professional techniques, and suggested planning schedules for the successful execution of the recipes.

The authors offer recipes for sophisticated filled and dipped chocolates; truffles; such chocolate snacks as cookies, brownies, and ice cream sandwiches; barks; drinks; and sauces. Be aware that this is not a book for beginners, because many of the recipes require patience and a certain level of skill working with chocolate, not to mention a significant investment at the grocery store and/or specialty shops, as the recipes are created for the most expensive chocolates (more than 60% chocolate liquor, such as Scharffen Berger, Valrhona, El Rey); butter (84% butterfat); spices (cardamom, vanilla beans, fleur de sel, imported teas); and liqueurs. All that being said, however, Gage's Fleur de Sel Caramels are truly luscious, and Recchiuti's signature Burnt Caramel Ganache is well worth the trial and error necessary to get the caramelized sugar just the right color. White Cupcakes With Truffle Cream Topping are very grownup treats, and the White Chocolate Mocha is a divinely decadent twist on an espresso drink. I'm eager to try some of the ice cream sandwich combinations next. I suspect this is the perfect gift for the serious baker or candy maker with a chocolate obsession of their own.

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