Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bookworm Week Review #2: Chocolate: A Love Story

I have a monster confession: I'm having a passionate, steamy love affair. It's true. Against my better judgment, I've succumbed to temptation. He's rich, sinfully sweet, tall, dark and handsome. Totally easy on the eyes. He's unlike any man I've ever met and he says all the right things. He pampers me and makes me feel so good. It's impossible to resist his advances. I've been seduced by his decadence.

Who is this amorous suitor, you may ask? Why, it's none other than...the cocoa bean.

I think many women have fallen for this alluring beau. The love of chocolate is something seemingly written into our DNA. So, when I received an opportunity to review a new book strictly devoted to my lover, I just couldn't say no.

Max Brenner, the world-renowned chocolatier, has a deep understanding and appreciation for the confection like no other. He addresses his muse in detail on his website:
It's not only about mixing exotic spices or creating delicate mousses. Chocolate, more than any other food, is integrated into many aspects of our lives. It is a symbol of contradicting emotions and sensations. On one hand, it is the most romantic gift, on the other, it is a commodity which is traded on the stock exchange. It is sold like a prestigious piece of jewelry carefully selected from a glass case but also as an addictive snack available at every corner store. Chocolate can be savoured like fine wine and yet, it can also be licked hungrily straight from your fingers. It is sexy, nostalgic, and forever an object of fantasy for children and grownup children. These diverse, contradicting chocolate associations are the inspiration behind Max Brenner's chocolate culture.
He shares not only a private collection of his personal dessert recipes but his adoration of "chocolate culture" in his new cookbook, Chocolate: A Love Story.
With gigantic vats of churning chocolate, desserts like their famous chocolate pizza, and 12 varieties of hot chocolate served in custom mugs, Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man has turned their line of hip, colorful themed restaurants into an international sensation. Chocolate: A Love Story is a vibrant new cookbook that includes 65 original recipes narrated in the quirky, captivating voice of Max Brenner, the restaurant's visionary founder and "bald man." Bold original illustrations inspired by Art Deco poster graphics, full-color photographs, easy-to-follow, delicious recipes, and a serving of Max's unique vision for spreading "chocolate culture" around the world make this book a must for every chocolate lover.
To be frank, Chocolate: A Love Story is like porn for chocoholics. It's a veritable feast for the senses. Illustrator Yonatan Factor has captured the soul and intrigue of each recipe with his retro, eye-popping designs. I salivated more and more at each turn of the page. I think I gained ten pounds just from reading the descriptions. I am dying to share some of the recipes with you but since I am bound by copyright restrictions, I will show you just a sampling of the breathtaking illustrations:

The recipes included in the book range from creative twists on the traditional (Such a Beautiful Chocolate Souffle, Modest Carrot Cake, My Lost Childhood Chocolate Birthday Cake) to the unbelievably exotic (The Adult and Child Chocolate Burger Joint Venture, Overwhelming Oriental White Chocolate Malabi). There are also exquisite chocolate drink recipes. While I haven't yet tried any of these recipes, the directions appear to be rather simple and I plan to attempt one for our upcoming holiday party. I am admittedly a novice cook/baker and I was only intimidated by a few of the more complex desserts. I was also thrilled to find there are only a few ingredients listed that I am unfamiliar with.

What made this cookbook so special was the autobiographical information that Max Brenner bestows to us. For example, his inspiration for chocolate began when he was ten years old and watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. From then on, he set out to sail a river of chocolate. It felt as if I was a fly on the wall of an intimate relationship. No other cookbook has ever been so conversational or had such a visual impact on me.

Bottom line: I highly recommend Chocolate: A Love Story as an addition to your kitchen - or your coffee table. As a 9x12 hardbound book, it is more like a work of art disguised as a cookbook. It would also make the perfect gift to tantalize the taste buds of the chocolate lover in your life.

BUY IT: You can purchase Chocolate: A Love Story at any major book retailer or online at Amazon.com (ARV $29.99).

Disclaimer: I was offered this review opportunity due to my membership at the Product Review Place. I was sent a copy this book from Anna at Hatchette Book Group to facilitate my candid review. I was in no other way compensated for this post.


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