Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate

Overview

It is hard, today, to imagine a time when the word bittersweet was rarely spoken, when 70 percent of the chocolate purchased by Americans was milk chocolate. Today's world of chocolate is a much larger universe, where not only is the quality better and variety wider, but the very composition of the chocolate has changed.

To do justice to these new chocolates, which contain more pure chocolate and less sugar, we need a fresh approach to ...

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Overview

It is hard, today, to imagine a time when the word bittersweet was rarely spoken, when 70 percent of the chocolate purchased by Americans was milk chocolate. Today's world of chocolate is a much larger universe, where not only is the quality better and variety wider, but the very composition of the chocolate has changed.

To do justice to these new chocolates, which contain more pure chocolate and less sugar, we need a fresh approach to chocolate desserts—a new kind of recipe—and someone to crack the code for substituting one chocolate for another in both new and classic recipes. Alice Medrich, the "First Lady of Chocolate," delivers.

With nearly 150 recipes—each delicious and foolproof, no matter your level of expertise—BitterSweet answers every chocolate question, teaches every technique, confides every secret, satisfies every craving. You'll marvel that recipes as basic as brownies and chocolate cake, mint chocolate chip ice cream and chocolate mousse, can still surprise and excite you, and that soufflés, chocolate panna cotta, even pasta sauces can be so dramatically flavorful.

For the last thirty years, Alice Medrich has been learning, teaching, and sharing what she loves and understands about chocolate. BitterSweet is the culmination of her life in chocolate thus far: revolutionary recipes, profound knowledge, and charming tales of a chocolate life.

2004 IACP Cookbook of the Year

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Editorial Reviews

Better Homes & Gardens
“Learn everything you need to know about baking and cooking with chocolate in this comprehensive guide.”

—Better Homes & Gardens

The Wall Street Journal
“I recommend Alice Medrich’s recent revision of her classic Bittersweet. Now called Seriously Bitter Sweet, the book offers recipes substitutions that allow you to use whatever percentage chocolate you favor.”
From the Publisher

“Learn everything you need to know about baking and cooking with chocolate in this comprehensive guide.”

—Better Homes & Gardens

“I recommend Alice Medrich’s recent revision of her classic Bittersweet. Now called Seriously Bitter Sweet, the book offers recipes substitutions that allow you to use whatever percentage chocolate you favor.”

Publishers Weekly
Medrich founded the dessert shop Cocolat in Berkeley in 1976 and authored Cocolat and Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts, which offered new, more "adult" flavors than the super-sweet tastes in vogue until that time. Today, as Medrich points out in an interestingly market-savvy introduction, the popularity of high-quality brands of chocolate is on the rise, and each of these recipes includes notes about how to alter it using chocolates with a higher percentage of "chocolate liquor," or cocoa bean content. This all sounds highly cerebral, but once Medrich puts her theory into practice in the form of Macadamia Shortbread Brownies, and Grappa, Currants, and Pine Nut Torte, it becomes deliciously clear. Hers are highly inventive creations, grouped in chapters loosely defined more by feel than by strict adherence to categories, such as a group of fluffy confections that includes Intensely Bittersweet Souffl s and Melting Chocolate Meringue. Medrich provides a recipe for her signature Queen of Sheba torte, along with detailed notes about how it has evolved over the years. She even uses chocolate in a handful of savory recipes, such as Roasted Squash Soup with Cocoa Bean Cream. Clearly, this author's curiosity is her defining characteristic; her ability to convey the fruits of that curiosity is the readers' good fortune. (Oct.) Forecast: Medrich's Cocolat (1990) was an IACP and James Beard award winner, and Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts (1994) was also the recipient of a James Beard award. This highly personal, engaging collection is likely to garner prizes as well, and Artisan is supporting it with a 45,000 first printing and a 10-city tour. This is bound to be one of fall's big books, and it deserves to be. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Chocolate queen, cookbook author (Cocolat; Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts), and founder of groundbreaking Bay Area chocolate and dessert shop Cocolat, Medrich focuses her latest effort on baking with percentage chocolates. These high-quality, often expensive gourmet chocolates (which contain varying amounts of chocolate liquor) are delicious but do not always substitute properly in older recipes. Medrich has developed nearly 150 recipes that include notes for adjusting each recipe to the specific type of chocolate used in order to guarantee a scrumptious result every time. Divided into eight sections, the book features recipes for ice cream (Toasted Coconut-White Chocolate Ice Cream), brownies, tortes, cakes (Molten Chocolate Raspberry Cakes), cookies (Bittersweet Decadence Cookies), savory dishes, and, of course, truffles. Scattered throughout are insightful essays on Medrich's love of chocolate, from her youth through her time at Cocolat to the present. Attractively designed with wonderful color photos and simple recipes, this is highly recommended for all collections.-Pauline Baughman, Multnomah Cty. Lib., Portland, OR Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579651602
  • Publisher: Artisan
  • Publication date: 11/15/2003
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.81 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Medrich is truly a star in the baking world, having won more cookbook-of-the-year awards and best in the dessert and baking category awards than any other author. She received her formal training at the prestigious Êcole Lenôtre in France, and is widely credited with introducing the chocolate truffle to the United States when she began making and selling them at her influential Berkeley dessert shop, Cocolat. She has since left the retail world, devoting much of her career to teaching and sharing her expansive knowledge about baking.

She is the author of Flavor Flours, Seriously Bitter Sweet (a complete revision of her 2003 IACP-prize-winning BitterSweet), Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth CookiesPure Dessert, and Chocolate Holidays.

Deborah Jones's recent honors include Best Photography in a Cookbook from the James Beard Foundation for her work in Bouchon. A frequent contributor to national magazines, she conducts a parallel commercial career from her San Francisco studio.

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Read an Excerpt

LESSONS FROM A CHOCOLATE SAUCE

At my house, it is important to have a really good chocolate sauce recipe available in case of emergency. Even if your house doesn't have emergencies of this nature, you can still use this recipe. Good chocolate sauce and a little good vanilla ice cream make a dessert more delicious and satisfying than 90 percent of those you could order in even a top-flight restaurant. Good chocolate sauce and an assortment of ripe fruits and chunks of cake will get you chocolate fondue. And when things look bleak, good chocolate sauce and a spoon will make you smile.

The recipe that follows immediately is one I have used for at least a dozen years. It is flexible and contains some interesting lessons about flavor, perhaps about life.

There is a simple secret to good chocolate sauce: You need good chocolate. Don't buy the individually wrapped squares of chocolate at the supermarket. Buy chocolate you love to eat because the sauce is mostly chocolate and you are going to eat it. A recipe like this shows off all of the qualities, good or bad, of the chocolate you use. The many options and imprecise measurements in this recipe may suggest either that I can't make up my mind or that I don't think the details really matter. Neither is true. I know what I like, and every detail is important.

But what do you like? Depending on the choices you make, you can have a sauce that is rich and creamy or intensely bittersweet, or anything in between. You can have a thin sauce that mingles pleasantly with the melted ice cream in the bottom of the bowl, or one that thickens like fudge and makes you groan a little with pleasure. You can make the sauce with a standard semisweet chocolate or a powerful 70 percent bittersweet--it all depends on your tastes.

Once you've selected your chocolate, you are ready to consider the milk versus cream question. Milk is the more convenient choice if you don't usually keep cream in the refrigerator (and that's what I used when I first made this sauce). So you might make the sauce with milk, all the while thinking that cream would be better if only you felt like going to the store. But you might be wrong. Richer is not always better. Milk allows the tastes of the chocolate to come through more—but that also means it does less to hide flavor flaws. Chocolate sauce made with milk has the most intense bittersweet chocolate flavor. So, if you are using a harsh or mediocre-tasting chocolate, don't make your sauce with milk! If your milk-based sauce is delicious but a tad too tart or austere, stir in bits of the optional butter to round out the flavor. Way over at the other end of the taste spectrum, chocolate sauce made with heavy cream—although still bittersweet--is positively voluptuous and creamy. It is also decidedly milder, less chocolatey, and less bittersweet. Half-and-half or a combination of milk and cream lends you somewhere between. If you've read my story about the nectarine

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2008

    overly sweet and boring recipes

    I bought this book about a year ago and have made about 10 of the recipes and even took a pastry class with a friend that utilized some of the meringue and chocolate recipes from the book. We were both surprised at how mediocre and overly sweetened the items all were. We eve nused the expensive Valrhona chocolate. The brownies were just okay. Poor texture, too much sugar. The meringue was too sweet. The truffles were about average in terms of taste and texture. I've had much better chocolate at Godiva and Moonstruck Chocolates and better all around dessert recipes from Caprial's Desserts and La Dolce Vita by Ursula Ferrigno. A very disappointing book for all the hype because it is so average in terms of taste and texture. I feel let down as I had heard great things. The pictures are beautiful and inspiring, but I would recommend looking elsewhere for good chocolate recipes

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2005

    magnificent recipes, stories

    These recipes are divine. They're very exact and precise, techniques are described well so you can follow along but it is not for absolute beginners in the kitchen. And you simply must use the best quality chocolate (Valrhona, Callebout or Scharffen Berger). The stories about the recipes, how she developed them, alternatives she tried and discarded, add to the experience. When I read her story about the perfect brownies (she offers five ways to make them, with bitter or semi-sweet, or cocoa powder, more guey, or more cake-like) I felt like I was swapping recipes with a friend. And the brownies I made were flat out the best ever! There are amazing varieties of things to make with chocolate elaborate and simple, and savory recipes like Mole Coloradito and pasta tossed with asparagus and chocolate nibs. This book also makes a great gift because it has beautiful photos.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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