Celebrate with Chocolate, Totally Over-the-Top Recipes by Marcel Desaulniers

175 pages with color photographs, Hardcover price: $24.95

Published by William Morrow/Harper Collins, NY, NY Copyright 2002
Reviewed by Rosemary Jason for Good Cooking, Spring, 2003
Just in case you were worried that Marcel Desaulniers had exhausted his supply of chocolate deserts in hisDeath by Chocolate trilogy, you ll be happy to know that his well has not yet run dry. He s back with yetanother lavish array of decadent chocolate creations in his latest book Celebrate with Chocolate. Desaulniers claims that Life is a celebration and all celebrations deserve chocolate. and he designed hisbook accordingly. Celebrate with Chocolate has recipes for all occasions, big and small, from the simpleChocolate in Paradise Toasted Almond Bark to the more extravagant and labor intensive recipes likeChocolate Hazelnut Christmas Tree Stump and Rolf s Old World Black Forest Cake. There is also achapter on frozen desserts as well as recipes for other chocolate treats such as a hot chocolate and rumcocktail called Hot chocolate Buccaneer, chocolate brioche French toast and white Russian truffles.

The recipes are easy to follow and are meticulously cross-referenced and detailed. He even goes so far as toinclude directives on when you should and shouldn t lick your fingers (Almost impossible directions tofollow!) As with all recipes you should read the entire recipe before you start. This holds especially true forthese recipes, which all conclude with The Chef s Touch , a paragraph that contains information aboutwhat parts of the recipe you can make ahead of time, notes on equipment, technique and other informationthat you ll want to know before you start.

The section on equipment, ingredients and technique is a pleasure to read and an education in the subtletiesof chocolate. He recommends ingredients

that are inexpensive and easy to find. Bakers chocolate is therecommended chocolate so there is no need to drop a chunk of change on the pricier imported brands.KitchenAid beaters and non-stick pans are recommended for most recipes. Both of these items are great forbaking, but if you don t own them, a hand held mixer and ordinary baking pans that are lined withparchment and buttered will work just fine.

The Mocha Sambuca Shooters, and the Chocolate Hazelnut Christmas Tree Stump were the recipes that Ichose to test. I followed the directions as meticulously as they were written and they both (miraculously)came out looking as good as the cakes in the photos. The Shooters are tiny, dark chocolate masterpieceslaced with black Sambuca and topped with mocha ganache. The recipe is quick, simple and the end result isimpressive. It's the subtle/strong flavor of the Black Sambuca that sets them miles apart from ordinarychocolate cupcakes. Testers note: It's easy to over-whip this ganache. Stop beating the second it turns light. I would use a whiskor only beat it half as long as recommended. Make extra shooters, they disappear fast.

The Chocolate Hazelnut Christmas Tree Stump made a great wedding present for a chocoholic friend andwas actually quite simple to make despite It's complicated looking appearance. The entire process was a bittime consuming but it can be made in advance and the end result is well worth any inconvenience.
Testers note: In order to cut nice clean slices you need to wet a serrated knife with hot water between slices.We left it alone on a table for people to cut at their leisure and that resulted in most of the bark falling offthe cake looked a bit raggedy towards the end of the evening (Like most of the guests.) No matter,everyone was drunk and it tasted just as good in its less elegant state. You can also have a great timerelaying fictional stories to your tipsy guests about the extravagant equipment that you had to design to getall those vertical layers.Again, make extra. There was no cake left over for the first anniversary, Which, of course, will become another event to celebrate with chocolate.