One of the more common questions I receive during class is “what books on chocolate would you recommend for the beginner?” Ten years ago I would have struggled with this question. There just weren’t many books, good or bad, available for the home chocolate maker. However, with the growing appreciation of artisan chocolates it has become much easier to find a flurry of good fantastic books.
While I have professional training as a chef, I do not have a formal education in chocolate. My route to chocolate making was through a stint as an assistant pastry chef. Molded chocolates were on the menu and so the pastry chef gave me my first lesson in the art of chocolate making. From there I turned to books to refine what I had learned and to build new skills. As my chocolate knowledge grew so did my chocolate library. I often peruse my favorite books looking for technical advice (how do you fix a broken ganache?), inspiration (what new finishing techniques are people using) and new flavor combinations (my newest find is absinthe chocolates). So, without further delay here are my top 3 chocolate book recommendations for the beginner:
Chocolate Obsession by Michael Recchiuti & Fran Gage: Chocolate Obsession is filled with recipes for both chocolates and chocolate desserts. While this book is light on the number of chocolate candy recipes (about 20) the majority of the recipes are unique in flavor and can be used to make truffles, which gives you the option to coat your chocolates in something other than tempered chocolate.
The Art of Chocolate by Elaine Gonzalez – The Art of Chocolate is for the person who is serious about chocolate making and wants a good guide on getting started. Many tools of the trade are explained and there is a through section on tempering. There are lots of images that fully explain more advanced techniques and the book goes beyond making chocolates to using chocolate to make beautiful decorations like leaves, bows and chocolate bowls and boxes.
The Chocolate Bible by Christain Teubner – This book is filled with recipes for chocolates, cakes, petit fours and more with the majority of the recipes having a visual step-by-step guide perfect for the beginner. This was one of my first chocolate books and proved invaluable in learning more advanced techniques.
Valerie Conyngham teaches Taste of Chocolate’s Chocolate Truffle Making workshop. She is a self-proclaimed chocolatier and is currently satisfying the chocolate cravings of her individual and corporate client base.