Book Review: Schokolade

I hope you all had a good start into the New Year 2014? How about your resolutions, did you have any? 😉 I never really make New Year resolutions but I do take the time to reflect on the old year and recall what I liked about it and what I could improve the next year. The big key word for me this year is balance. Balance in basically everything: private life and work, blogging, eating. The latter is really only a matter of balance and not so much to abstain on everything you crave. How do you think of it?

That’s why I don’t feel ashamed to present today a book review about Chocolate! Yes, a whole book about chocolate, can you believe it?

I got this book from blogdeinbuch, where you can apply for different books to write reviews about them. Although I am allowed to keep the book, all my opinions are entirely my own. The book was published by h.f.ullmann 

About the book

The book has two big chapters divided into many small ones. It starts with an introduction, where both the history of chocolate as well as working with chocolate is discussed. The second part of the book is full with mouthwatering recipes and is divided into Pralines, Confectioneries, Small Biscuits, Sweets and Tarts, Desserts, Extras.

My Impression

Once I got the book and unwrapped it my first impression was really positive. The book looks very solid with a hardcover and paper wrapping. The book has a clear look and the pictures are simple but to the point. The focus is really laid on the product without a lot of decoration. All pictures are rather dark, but I guess that suits the Chocolate theme.

The Chapters

I really like the first chapters about how to work with chocolate. you can find information about the different chocolate sorts, useful tools, how to temper and melt chocolate or how to make decorations with chocolate. The internet is full with different methods to melt or to temper chocolate, one method more intimating than the other… This book gives a nice overview and explains everything one need to know about working with chocolate short and simple. This just might be my most favorite part of the book 😉

The Recipes

Of course I had to try a few recipes to be able to give a good review about the book. I started with the White Chocolate Crème Brulee. I had guests over for dinner, so it was just a perfect excuse to get started. I have to admit here that I have never made Crème Brulee before, so I really entirely relied on the recipe in the book and therefore followed every single step as it was described. The explanation is easy to read and to understand and in the end I was really happy how my Creme looked. But oh well, once we sat on the table and cracked the sugar open the Crème Brulee was completely fluid! The taste was great though and we nevertheless ate it all. Afterwards I have checked the recipe again and I couldn’t find my mistake, so I really have no clue where it went wrong…

I couldn’t just leave it there, I had to try another recipe obviously. As I had a lot of egg white left over from the Crème Brulee a Meringue recipe seemed obvious. Lucky me, there is a Chocolate Meringue recipe in the book, so off I went to get baking! Again a quick remark: I made meringue before but using a completely different technique. I was eager to try this one, where you beat egg whites and sugar together over a warm waterbath until the mixtures reaches a temperature of 65°C. To make a long story short: failure again. I really started to doubt myself now and did some research:

Apparently there are three different ways to make meringue (French, Italian and Swiss). The method described in the book is the Swiss method. What it says on the internet (but not in the book) is that after reaching the temperature, you have to beat for like 10 minutes until you get a stiff meringue. In the book it only says that you have to beat it to cool it down, so my mixture was still fluid. I find this description a bit confusing, especially when you have no experience with baking meringue. The book states that you can bake the meringue in a muffin tin, so I was not too confused about the runny mixture. After baking the meringues however, I knew that something went wrong and sadly the meringues went into the waste bin 🙁

 

By now I was desperate. A third recipe was needed. I decided to bake something, that should not be a huge problem, right?. I chose chocolate-biscotti as I always wanted to try them. The dough looked really good and I could form it into nice rolls and after the stated 10-12 minutes baking time they looked good. Until I cut them open and they were still almost fluid inside! Ok, back in the oven, again 10 minutes. This time I started to do my research immediatly and I read on the interenet that biscottis are often baked twice, hence the firm cookie structure. After baking them for double the amount of time described I decided to cut them anyway to bake the single cookies twice as I have read. So after being in the oven for 3 times the structure became similar to what it should be and they actually tasted quite nice!

Conclusion

I find it really hard to give a conclusion here as I my first impression with the book were really positive. I like the first chapter about working with chocolate as I learned the most from them. But I have to be honest here and tell you that 3 of the 3 recipes I have tested didn’t work. All of them had their small issues although all of them tasted amazing!

I am confused as I don’t know whether this is due to my own faults or whether the book lacks accuracy and details in baking technique and baking time? Maybe it is just better suited for more experience bakers, as I have chosen only recipes which I have never done before. Or maybe it all was just bad luck. However, I have not yet given up on the book as I plan to do more recipes, mostly pralines. I started to really like making pralines and I want to make more. I have read carefully through the different praline recipes and I think there is a chance of success.

It is a pity that I didn’t had more time to try recipes from the book, but as soon as I have done some pralines, I will let you know how they turned out 🙂 So if you are looking for a book about how to work with chocolate and how to make pralines and confectionery I would say, try this one (order here)!

Facts about the book

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