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Cookbook Review: Chocolates and Confections at Home With the Culinary Institute of America

Must Read: Chocolates and Confections

I should have put self-control on my list of New Year's resolutions, because I haven't been able to resist temptation this month, especially when it comes to nostalgic candies, dragées, or any charming confection. At least one publisher appealed to my weakness when I received a copy of Peter Greweling's Chocolates and Confections at Home With the Culinary Institute of America ($23), I think my heart actually skipped a beat. Did it let me down? Find out and read more.

Pros:

  • Endless resources include an equipment list with pictures, information on legal standards, step-by-step technique photos, and troubleshooting.
  • Covers all candy from rock candy to candy-coated fruit to chocolate molds and fondant.
  • Layout is visually stimulating, but not too busy.
  • Alluring flavor combinations and confections — like honey-lavender truffles, PB&J bars, and honeycomb-like sponge candy.

Cons:

  • Book is large and bulky, which makes it more ideal as a coffee-table book than a kitchen cookbook.
  • Navigation isn't the easiest. For instance, a primer on fondant provides everything but the recipe, which doesn't appear until more than 15 pages later.

Recipes: Everything from marzipan to meltaways, including:

  • Rock candy
  • Green tea truffles
  • Cherry cordials
  • Nougat torrone
  • Turkish delight

Imagery: Detailed photography is a highlight of this book, and it's both enticing and educational. For example, one photo shows the close-up differences between correctly and incorrectly tempered chocolate. The book also contains diagrams and flow charts that are helpful for understanding various confection techniques.

Overall Rating: Although this large read may appear better suited for the coffee table, it's a wealth of information that truly belongs in any candy-maker's kitchen. Chocolates and Confections would be the perfect Valentine's Day gift for any aspiring pastry chef.

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