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I was given this book as a gift a couple of Christmases ago, and I'm not sure what that says about me I'm obviously seen as a keen cooker and chocolate lover all rolled into one!
The book is (as the title suggests) based mainly on recipes which involve using chocolate (they won't thank me for pointing out that it doesn't have to be Green & Blacks chocolate as the ingredients only specify the cocoa content of the chocolate, not the brand). Obviously the idea is to use Green & Blacks chocolate where chocolate is required, and sometimes this can't be avoided as they use flavours which are only produced by Green & Blacks.
Anyway, I digress. I have to say this is one of the strangest cookery books I own, as it has some very unusual recipes in it. When I first received it I presumed it would primarily be a baking/dessert based book, and fully expected to be putting on the pounds whilst testing out chocolate cakes, mousses and tarts. As I flicked through the book, however, I discovered that it is a mixture of savoury and sweet recipes, all involving chocolate in some form or other.
The sweet recipes are stunning, and the ones I've tried have all turned out well and tasted divine. My favourites are the chocolate and cherry brownies and the lemon drizzle cake with sunken dark chocolate chunks. These are gorgeous and please the hubby-to-be every time so they have become a repeated recipe.
The book is split into sections which don't necessarily tell you anything about what the chapter contains, for example "Mystical" which is described as "A touch of witchcraft" - what does this mean?! The book is also laid out in a rather haphazard way, with random pictures telling the story of the history of chocolate. I thought I was really into chocolate but do I really need to know that "the magical ingredient in chocolate comes from a pod that grows out of the trunk of a tree" or that "unfermented bulk beans are often used in cheaper chocolate blends". No, not really. I just need to know if they have the chocolate bar I want in Tesco so I can make a nice pudding for tea.
There is a chapter somewhere round the middle of the book which is called "Create a Stir" with the description "Don't tell them what's in it". In all honesty I've never been brave enough to actually try any of these recipes, as none of them sound overly appealing, and seem like they're just using chocolate for the sake of it. For example, I think if I tried to serve chocolate coffee lamb to my other half I would probably end up wearing it. Some might say I shouldn't knock it till I try it but part of the appeal for me when it comes to food is that it looks and sounds appetising, and the ingredients all work together.
Don't get me wrong, this book is a lovely quirky unusual book, and if you focus on the sweet recipes you'll make some good friends when you take the final result into work, but if you're looking for chocolate to revolutionise your savoury dishes, then you may as well save yourself the calories.
Mmmmm. Who can resist a book dedicated to chocolate recipes? Certainly not me. This book was a gift from friends a few years ago and makes regular appearances in my kitchen!
Unfortunately, waistlines will not allow for chocolate desserts, cakes, biscuits (you name it!) to be produced too regularly in our household, but for special occasions I often turn to my Green & Black's book.
I've greatly enjoyed several variations on the above mentioned chocolate mousse (including a Toblerone mousse!). Most recently I made some lovely chocolate brazil biscuits from the book. The drunken damson dessert is divine, as is the dark chocolate mousse cake. The chocolate lemon drizzle cake would have been lovely but was a bit undercooked - oops! And perhaps my favourite, taken from Nigella Lawson, a clementine cake with a chocolate topping (I love this cake so much I adapted it to cupcakes with white and dark chocolate ganache - easier than grating lots of chocolate! - for our wedding cupcakes). The pictures of recipes from the book are gorgeous too, and there are also pics of chocolate production, cocoa beans etc which are very interesting. Sadly quite a few recipes don't get their own picture though - I always like a preview of what I'm trying to create!
As you can see there's a great variety from more everyday cakes and biscuits, pudding-y desserts to very sophisticated desserts. There are also chapters particularly aimed at children (for them to eat and get involved in making). I haven't ventured into the "Create a Stir" chapter, which includes a chocolate courgette loaf and savoury dishes such as chicken mole and Swedish chocolate coffee lamb. Every recipe in the book has chocolate or cocoa involved to a greater or lesser extent. While it doesn't have to be Green & Black's you will sometimes find yourself directed there non-too-subtly. For example one of the mousses involves a raisin and hazelnut milk chocolate - the only quality brand in this particular combination you'll find in the supermarket just happens to be Green & Black's! However, this doesn't detract from the deliciousness of the recipes.
My one real gripe, and I find this with a few cook books, is what I consider the novelty "interesting" chapter organisation and headings: Magic, Time to shine, Melting, Licking the bowl, Create a stir, Treasures, Mystical, Wicked, Abracadabra and Old times. Most of these don't tell me much about what's in the chapter. How about: Cakes, Biscuits, Hot puddings, Chilled desserts, Childrens - too boring? Maybe, but a lot more helpful! Maybe I'm just getting old...