The world loves chocolate, and combine that with a dashing chef with a rich French accent and recipes for goods that have graced many a French patisserie window, and one has the makings of a successful cookbook. Yes, it’s true that one can’t actually hear Eric’s Gallic tones but one can imagine.
Eric has impeccable culinary credentials having trained in France and moved to London to run the patisserie side of the business for the celebrated Roux brothers, Albert and Michel. Eric now has his own enterprise called, unsurprisingly, Cake Boy, which is a multi-functional cake shop, café and cookery school.
Chocolat is a book to tempt any home cook. The recipes are simple to follow and include classics as well as family recipes. They range from sophisticated milkshakes to romantic desserts, from timeless cakes to whimsical truffles coated with popping candy. Everything contains chocolate in some form, along with some imagination.
Harlequin is a striking layered confection of sponge with both white and dark chocolate creams. Granted, the text for the recipe takes up a whole page and that might at first be off-putting. But if one reads the ingredients and the method for each element then it’s evident that it’s easy going and just a matter of assembly to create an amazing and memorable dessert.
An introduction to fine food
A dessert that one finds in almost every French restaurant, bistro or café is chocolate pots. It’s an unfussy preparation that appeals to both adults and kids. Eric’s version has a little brandy so one might want to leave that out if there are strong feelings about children getting the taste for alcohol. I would personally leave in this small volume as the kids won’t notice and it’s hardly likely to corrupt them. I am not suggesting that you give your 9-year-old a cigar to follow, but an introduction to fine food can never come too early.
Indeed, an individual serving of anything always seems more special than a slice of a communal dessert. The decoration remains pristine till your own first bite and there is never an argument about who gets the bit with the garnish or who gets the end with the most frosting – it’s democratic. Mini Red Velvet Cakes with White Chocolate Frosting are snowy mountains capped with red. The interior is just as red as the summit but this traditional American cake has been given a twist with that addition of white chocolate frosting. That icing would work well on chocolate cupcakes or as a topping to individual chocolate tarts.
My pick-of-the-book is a must-try recipe that one will want to use to impress weekend visitors. It’s a make-ahead Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread. Yes, one can buy jars of commercial spread but that won’t get you praise from the in-laws. This morning treat contains the best of ingredients and can be made and potted a couple of weeks before your guests arrive, so all that’s needed are some large French bowls of hot milky coffee, some crusty bread and a copy of Le Monde (or The Radio Times for the linguistically challenged).
Chocolat – seductive recipes for bakes, desserts, truffles and other treats
Author: Eric Lanlard
Published: Mitchell Beazley
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018