Sunday, May 3, 2009

Could Anything be Sweeter than...Chocolate

Nick Malgieri

I love Nick Malgieri !!!! From the very first time I saw him on the Food Network I thought, what would I have to do to be invited to dinner at Nick’s. Although I have never met him, I have e-mailed back and forth with him a few times, he is my friend on Facebook, and I think he is one of the nicest people on the planet. Why do you think this, you must be asking. Here’s the reason. Awhile back there was a comment written about Mark Bittman and I wrote a response that included something about Nick Malgieri. Mark Bittman couldn’t have been bothered to respond, but Nick, who didn’t know me from a hole in the wall took the time to send me an e-mail response, which was a sign to me that this man has greatness written all over him, but he is not so big, that he doesn’t care about people. In addition, his e-mail was so thoughtfully and gentlemanly worded. I was always a fan, but now, I am in for the long haul.

I love Nick’s books, owning quite a few and I kept meaning to get around to review Chocolate, because who among us is not a Chocolate Foodfanataholic. If by chance, there is someone out there who isn’t a Chocolate Foodfanataholic, I can’t imagine you won’t become one after reading through and drooling on every page of this delicious book!

If Willie Wonka was a living, breathing, creature, I think he would probably be Nick, but Nick is a kicked up version. The man knows Chocolate; every single thing there is to know about chocolate, he knows it. The chocolate factory of his mind spins out the most wonderful, beautiful, and delicious chocolate creations and fantasies.

Nick explains everything from the history of chocolate, how to process it, what types to use, how to temper it, types of chocolate, chocolate flavors, utensils used in chocolate preparation, you’ll find it in this book.

Nick, who is the director of the baking department at Peter Kump’s Cooking School, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, was an apprentice at some of the finest pastry shops in Switzerland and France, writes for most of the major food magazines, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Saveur, got his love of chocolate as a six year old after being given a taste of it by his father. Integral to this discussion is that Nick is also of Italian descent, and comes by his love of cooking and food like most of us, at the knees of his grandmother. As for me, I know, I am prejudiced towards Italian cookbooks, authors, etc – what can I say, we love to cook, love to eat, and we do it best (okay, maybe we are tied with the Greeks here, its our Mediterranean influence I suppose.)

I will leave poor Nick in peace now before my husband divorces me, and let’s get to the book which is 464 pages of pure, unadulterated chocolate, with a few templates thrown in for good measure. If it can be made with chocolate, it’s here. From the basics of working with chocolate to cakes, cookies, creams, ices, pies, confections, sauces/beverages, decorating, showpieces, it’s all here. His Chocolate Cobbled Cottage and Chocolate Wreath are indescribable. The sheer amount of work, and perfection that Nick puts into his art are beyond words, at least my words anyway. You need to buy the book and see for yourself.

Among the recipes included are Torte Divina, Mexican Chocolate Pudding, Chocolate Orange Slices, Marbles Chocolate Terrine, Chocolate and Coffee Pots de Crème, Crème Caramels, Chocolate Eclairs, Chocolate Walnut Rugelach, Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Boiled Icing, and so many more. Stop drooling and go out and buy the book!

You need this book in your collection, if you love chocolate, love to cook, love to bake, love to work out at the gym (you’ll need it after this) love dessert, basically, if you are breathing, you need to buy this book – okay, if you’re diabetic or had gastric by-pass surgery, proceed with caution (although being one of the latter, it sure didn’t stop me.) Taste in moderation, but enjoy life, and this book will certainly set you on the path to enjoyment!


1: Chocolate Basics
2: Cakes
3: Cookies
4: Cremes, Mousses, Custards and Souffles
5: Ices and Frozen Desserts
6: Chocolate Confections
7: Sauces and Beverages
8: Decorating Desserts with Chocolate
9: Showpieces and Decorating Projects
Selected Recipe Index

To those of you Chocolate Foodfanataholics out there, if this is not in your collection – Why???? Hurry up and order it right now! For the rest of you cookbook collectors, this is a must add to your collection. You will never need another dessert book after buying this one – it will save you money!

Nick, if you could see your way clear and bake me up a bunch of those chocolate covered Florentines, I would be forever in your debt, give you my first born son (who by the way is a plastic surgeon-could come in handy in the future) and rave about you forever :)

I always include a recipe from the book I am reviewing and this is no exception, the problem is, how do you pick just one from a book of this magnitude. I chose one, then changed my mind, chose another and changed my mind. Finally, because I love the combination of orange and chocolate, and because it reminded me of a dessert I used to make years ago with orange sherbet and a meringue topping done in an orange shell I finally decided on Chocolate Orange Sherbet in Orange Shells – with summer coming this is a shoo-in for dessert!

Chocolate Orange Sherbet in Orange Shells

Makes 6 generous servings

Nick says “This is a bit of trouble, but well worth the effort for a special party. You can put the finished desserts in the freezer a day before our party, and remove them shortly before serving.

6 medium navel oranges
1/3-cup sugar
1-cup water
½ cup light corn syrup
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into ¼-inch pieces
2/3 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1 small roasting pan lined with aluminum foil to hold the oranges in the freezer

1. Cut a thin slice off the stem end of each orange so it sits levelly. Stand the oranges up on the cut bases and cut off the top quarter of each. These will be the covers of the dessert. Scrape the orange flesh away from the top quarters and set it aside in a bowl. Reserve the orange tops.

2. Use a pointy spoon – or a grapefruit spoon if you have one-to hollow out the oranges. Put orange flesh with the other reserved flesh and place the empty orange skins and the tops on the prepared pan and freeze them. Place the orange flesh in a fine strainer over a bowl and press to extract the juice. Discard the pulp.

3. To make the sherbet, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil. Off heat, add the finely cut chocolate, let stand 2 minutes, then whisk smooth. Sift the cocoa powder through a very fine strainer into a small bowl. Whisk the syrup into the cocoa a little at a time to prevent the cocoa from forming lumps. Strain the syrup and whisk in the orange juice and orange liqueur. Cool the sherbet mixture and freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's directions.

4. When the sherbet is frozen, remove the orange shells one at a time from the freezer and fill each with sherbet, mounding it above the top of the shell. Perch a top on each filled orange, leaving the sherbet visible under it. Return the oranges to the freezer as they are filled.

5. After all the filled oranges have frozen solid, remove pan from freezer and wrap well in plastic.

Serving: Place the oranges in the refrigerator to soften slightly about 1 hour before you intend to serve them. Serve on a chilled plate.

Storage: Leftovers keep well individually wrapped in plastic and frozen.

Book Title: Chocolate
Author: Nick Malgieri
Category: Specialty Cookbooks
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-018711-8
ISBN10: 0-06-018711-5
Publisher: Harper Collins Publisher
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
Edition: Second
Description: Hard Cover
Illustrations: Yes, templates
Photographs: Beautiful Color Photos
Price: $42.50
Reviewed by: Elise Feiner – April 28, 2009

Chocolate can be ordered by scrolling down to the bottom of the blog to our Foodfanataholics Cookbook Nook, or, go to the sidebar on the right and click on Cookbook of the Month or, by hitting the button on the sidebar.

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