The secret of the uniquely, irresistibly seductive quality of chocolate, according to Sara Jayne-Stanes, is that it is the only substance to melt at blood temperature, "gently exploding into a warm, sensual liquid, filling your mouth with an incomparable, hedonistic feeling that you just want to go on and on ..." I think we get the picture.
Another, complementary, view of its attraction is indicated by the scientific name accorded it by Linnaeus: Theobroma, food of the gods. Chocolate: The Definitive Guide is a loving homage to this extraordinary substance by one of Britain's finest professional chocolate makers.
It's difficult to convey the riches of this marvellous book. Sara Jayne-Stanes begins by outlining the history of chocolate, from its prehistoric Mesoamerican origins to its current paradoxical status as both bland, trashy global comfort food and expensive luxury commodity. The latter of course is her preoccupation. Chocolate, it seems, is as susceptible as wine to thevagaries of climate and terroir.
Utterly thorough instructions on the preparation of chocolate for any and all types of cooking are followed here by a series of recipes that will have chocoholics on their knees. From sauces, petits fours, cakes and gateaux, through puddings, ices and mousses, there is nothing that isn't rich, exciting and fulfilling. So, a fabulous recipe for Brownies; or a Roule Marquis from Michel Roux; or Shaun Hill's Warm Chocolate Cake with Cherry or Apricot Compot; or Frozen Mississippi Mud Pie; or, to climax, a trio of plain, milk and white chocolate truffles.
As if that weren't enough, a few savoury recipes involving chocolate are appended: The famous Mexican Mole Poblano, of course, but also a Spanish dish of fish stewed in onions with chocolate and mushrooms and a Bordelaise one of lampreys in a red wine stew spiked with chocolate.
"Sara's chocolate truffles are one of the marvels of the edible world. Her book is just as good and lasts rather longer." Matthew Fort, Food and Drink Editor, The Guardian; "This is truly a magnum opus. The history is highly readable and particularly absorbing. The Chocolate Clinic is a brilliant idea and then the recipes! Their breadth and range must be unique in scope. Since I have never tasted better chocolate truffles than Sara's the inclusion of her own recipe alone must be worth the price of the book to any chocolate lover." Frances Bissell, The Times"
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 2nd June 2005
Publisher: Grub Street
Dimensions (cm): 24.9 x 21.0 x 1.5
Weight (kg): 0.83