Bev Shaffer's "Chocolate Desserts to Die For!" (the fourth book in her "To Die For!" series), features more than a hundred recipes for chocolate-infused baked goods, confections, puddings, frozen desserts and drinks rounded out with chocolate trivia, tips, tastings and emerging trends. As if that weren't tempting enough, the pages are generously sprinkled with mouthwatering photos, witty captions and choco-centric quotes.
The first fifteen pages or so are dedicated to an eye-opening introduction ("Many women rank chocolate as the most smile-worthy sight, edging out loved ones"), chocolate trivia and a brief history of chocolate, how to set up a chocolate tasting, and chocolate baking tips. From the first chapter Comfort Chocolate (is there any OTHER kind?) to party ideas, chocolate gifts (including fudge, caramels, truffles, and homemade marshmallows) and elegant chocolate desserts (white chocolate and Brie cheesecake, bittersweet truffle tart, chocolate orange pots de crème, white chocolate coeur a la crème with chocolate-covered espresso beans), from white to dark chocolate and every degree in between, you'll be sure to find a dessert with your name on it! For the more adventurous chocoholic, there is chocolate sushi, chocolate fettuccini with whipped cream and fudge sauce, and Chicago-style deep-dish dessert pizza to discover.
I made several of the recipes including the chocolate nut tart, chocolate chocolate cocoa cookies, chocolate sorbet (I made mine in popsicle molds like those pictured rather than an ice cream maker; it was divine!), chocolate sauce (only three ingredients - how easy is that?), and chocolate orange pots de crème. The result: BIG chocolate flavor with little effort. For the chocolate sauce, be aware that it will solidify in the fridge, but a quick warmup in the microwave makes it ready for pouring over your favorite ice cream (or as a base for fantastic homemade mochas).
The ingredients are commonplace (no fancy restaurant supplies or obscure mail-order ingredients here) and clearly laid out. Most, if not all, recipes are one page; unlike some recent dessert cookbooks I've reviewed like Payard Desserts, you don't have to worry about elaborate multi-step, multi-day preparations for the most part (the panna cotta chocolate layer cake Is one of the few exceptions; the cake requires an overnight chill in the fridge before assembling on the second day). There are plenty of simple recipes that the kids can help with (the three-ingredient chocolate sauce or chocolate sorbet would be a great project for young kitchen helpers). And for the grown-ups, there are several boozy creations including a chocolate-infused vodka and baked chocolate espresso shots containing chocolate liqueur.
Even if you already own one or more chocolate-themed baking books, you'll pick up numerous tips, tricks, and flavors that will give you new ways to enjoy the "food of the gods;" chocoholics rejoice!
(A big thank you to Pelican Publishing for the review copy and book blurb!)