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Book Review: Couture Chocolate by William Curley

A decadent chocolate treat is just the thing to enjoy at the end of the day. Not only is it a delicious treat for yourself, it’s a wonderful gift to give to someone else. While I’ve made a few chocolate candies in my day and even sold them for a while at craft fairs, none of my treats compare to some of the amazing chocolate creations made by William Curley, four-time winner of the Academy of Chocolate’s Award Best British Chocolatier. Chocolate Couture is a master class in chocolate and chocolate making all rolled into one book.

Couture Chocolate features chocolates and patisseries that William has created along with the inspiration behind his unique flavor combinations. The first chapter will give you an introduction to the history of cocoa and its origins in South America. You will learn about the process used to turn the cocoa pods into couverture chocolate which is the final stage of chocolate making. There is a very detailed section of definitions that will introduce you to the different types of chocolates and the terminology used in grading and discussing chocolates. You’ll learn what’s involved in tasing chocolate and how to best store it. There is a step by step process that explains classic tempering of chocolate and how it’s different from seeded tempering. The introduction also includes a recipe for basic ganache that you will use in other recipes in the book.

The rest of the book focuses on different types of chocolates including Truffles, Couture Chocolates, Bars & Bites, Bouchees, Cakes & Biscuits, Patisserie; and Ice cream, Sauces, and Drinks. Each chapter explains the type of chocolate creation that will be featured and gives detailed, step by step directions including many photographs to show you how to make them. You will first learn the basic technique for each type of chocolate. Once that has been explained, recipes variations of chocolates that use that technique are included. Also included are many trips and tricks that will help you create the best quality chocolate. The photographs themselves are enough to put inches on your hips. These are not your typical candy recipes. These are the types of chocolates most of us only dream about.

Many of the recipes included will require specialized equipment. I would not think that your newbie chocolatier would be trying most of these recipes to begin with but if they did, expect a trip to the store to purchase pastry bags, dipping forks, candy molds, and madeleine molds. Since this cookbook is British, the ingredients are listed both in metric and standard measurements as are the temperatures. A few of the ingredients may not be as easily found here in the United States like caster sugar but larger grocery stores should carry much of what you need. While the cookbook isn’t really intended for a beginner, there are a few recipes that could easily be created by someone new to working with chocolate like the Rum & Raisin Cakes and the Chocolate Chip Cookies. A few of the recipes are a bit more intimidating like the Black Olive & Tomato Caramel Chocolates and the Orange & Chocolate Sacher. This is one of those cookbooks I just want to sit down and read from cover to cover all in one night.

About Ellen Christian

Ellen is a busy mom of two teenagers who left the corporate world in 2008 to focus on a more eco-friendly life. She lives in rural Vermont where she juggles family, two blogs and a career in social media. You can find her at http://www.confessionsofanover-workedmom.com/ and http://the-socialites-closet.blogspot.com/.