—Better Homes & Gardens
Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolateby Alice Medrich
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… See more details below
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.
“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.”
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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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