Real Chocolate is a testament to the commodity that Chantal Coady has built her career on. Owner of the renowned Rococo, she is a chocolatier through and through. Page upon page of sumptuous recipes and glossy photographs makes this book not only a feast for the eyes but for the senses.
However, Chantal was keen to go further than to write just another book about baking and so she has spent time developing savoury recipes. Over thirty pages are given over to these delicacies and it is here that the book should get much praise. Yes, all the information on chocolate is superb and the recipes faultless. Chantal arms you with the facts, which enable you to make informed judgements. Organise a tasting with friends and learn to spot the differences between beans and cocoa content.
Be brave and have a go at tempering chocolate so that you can then enjoy chocolate dipped strawberries or decorate a cake with tiny chocolate leaves. It is all about experimentation and harnessed with Chantal’s enthusiasm for the subject, you will be drawn into the Real Chocolate web.
At the Good Web Guide, we have tried several of the recipes. Following Chantal’s recommendation, we cooked roast lamb provençal. The leg was marinated in red wine, garlic, anchovies and capers. At the end of cooking, the pan was deglazed with a tablespoon of Rococo’s cocoa powder, blood red in colour. Rather than adding a tablespoon all at once, we felt it would be better to slowly build up the taste and stop where you felt comfortable. Our plans to bring the lamb to table without mention of chocolate were denied as something was definitely afoot. The jus was a delicious dark brown but the aroma of chocolate wafting from the kitchen was a give away. It met with much approval and praise.
A valuable lesson was learned though. Cocoa powder emulsifies fats, gives depth and extra body to sauces and so used sparingly, is invaluable. We particularly like Chantal’s chocolate balsamic vinegar. Heat similar quantities of caster sugar and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved and then bubble gently for five minutes. Remove from the heat and then add some grated real chocolate. Whisk and leave to cool. Stir again before pouring into a clean jar or bottle. Use in salad dressings, to spice up gravies or pour a dash over strawberries.
On the pudding front, we tried tea ganache. This is a deliciously rich mousse, using the finest chocolate which has been mixed with hot water infused with tea; jasmine works particularly well and the flowery flavour comes through. After publication of Real Chocolate, Chantal realised that this could be made using a Magimix. Break up the chocolate into small pieces. If you don’t, your Magimix will be dancing over the kitchen. Infuse the tea and making sure it is still hot, pour through the funnel whilst the Magimix is running. Once you have a smooth mixture, pour into small cups or glasses. This is extremely rich so a little goes a long way. As for quantities, you will have to go and buy this most excellent of books.
We have left the best until last and Chantal excels at this. Chocolate is good for you. It is full of vitamins and minerals and real chocolate is not saturated with sugar. The serotonin content will boost your morale and by replacing dessert with a small piece of real chocolate, it could even lead to weight loss. How good is that?