by Sybil PrattNovember 2006
In the olden days (my youth, alas), there was milk chocolate, dark chocolate and the bitter stuff for baking. But in this nuanced, postmodern world nothing is that simple now we have chocolate that comes in degrees of intensity from plain old 55 percent semisweet to 62, 70, 82 and a knock-your-chocolate-loving-socks-off 99 percent. Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger, the founding fathers of Scharffen Berger, a leader among the upscale, artisanal producers of these dark delights, want you to have the right recipes to showcase high-quality chocolate. In The Essence of Chocolate they provide more than 100 recipes, from sublimely sweet to savory, gathered from their own files and collected from renowned chefs around the country. I love the way they've divided these recipes: Intensely Chocolate, features the robustly rich like Chocolate Pudding Cake, Chocolate Pecan Pie and sinfully dense Chocolate Mousse. Essentially Chocolate favors a slightly lighter approach, Orange Chocolate Baklava, a grilled Chocolate and Peanut Butter Panini and Chocolate Zabaglione Trifle; and in A Hint of Chocolate you use a little to get a lot more depth in a challah, scones, waffles, mini madeleines and more. You'll also find out much about the making of fine chocolate, from selecting the beans to molding the bar, and much about these two impassioned champions of chocolate.