am 3. Februar 2000
Book covers: introduction, Alice's thoughts on ingredients and chocolate, cakes, tortes, mousses, truffles, brownies, where to buy stuff, and techniques. I've tried both truffle recipes (they are very easy and can be done in 1.5 hours!) and both are excellent. Alice has since modified the French chocolate truffle recipe to include mixing the eggs with boiling water (instead of water in the chocolate) to keep it safe from salmonella. A beautiful book, with tons of incredible photos and glossy pages. One thing that struck me though, was that a few of the chocolate ruffles shown were obviously created using an automatic "ruffle maker" (you grind them out circularly from a cylinder of chocolate) instead of by hand as the rest of us have to do, and as she describes in the book. That irritated me a little. I think for total beginners there are better books from which to learn which equipment to buy, to learn about ingredients, and the like. For instance There is no section on how to cut your cake into 3rds (not as easy as it appears). It's hard to give more specific examples, it's just a general feeling that some of the things in the book are not totally easy to do. But I love the concept of the desserts that Alice has designed, the recipes look correct, and the 2 I've tried were great. And out of the 4 baking books I own, this is by far the most beautiful. Compared to Pie/Pastry and Cake Bibles and Baking with Julia I feel this book is less suited for the beginner if it's the only book you get - if you have more baking books than this book is wonderful. This book is also well-suited for the intermediate who wants to further develop style in creating desserts and also familiarity with chocolate.
am 28. August 1997
If you love things chocolate and like to make them, then this is the book you have been waiting for. Personally, my obsession is truffles. I have been searching for years for a domestic equivalent to the bittersweet truffles I used to buy at chocolatiers in Paris, but to no avail. Everything I could get in SoCal was either too sweet, too old, or not chocolatey.
Not so here. These recipes produce truffles just like the ones I remember from France: a grown-up treat, not the over-sweetened, over-flavored, dried-up disappointments we have imported or made here. I have only tried the recipes for truffles, but I plan to work my way through the rest of the book, recipe by recipe, the cakes and pastries too. Truffles are so easy to make! Excellent technical information on the handling of chocolate from a writer who is obviously sharing her inside tips. Do what Alice Medrich says, and you can't go wrong. Good mail order sources, copious (and luscious) photos and illustrations. Also, an inspiring and colorful story of someone with an idea who just couldn't let go of it no matter what. In an oversize format, the book itself is a pleasure in the hand and a literal feast for the eye. I plan to give it to friends for Xmas
am 5. Juni 2000
Wonderful book. I have tried about 11 of the recipes and all but one was beyond excellent. I have made stunning desserts that have more than impressed everyone. My one and only caution is that most of the main recipes in the book contain liqueurs. I don't find this a problem, but many people do. Even if you don't care for those types of recipes, still, buy the book. The back of the book lists "building blocks", everything from sponge cake recipes, mousse, fillings, glazes, etc. so that you can fabricate your own designer desserts.
am 20. September 1998
I have made over half of the recipes in this book, and I am amazed at how wonderful each of them tastes. The rich flavor and beauty of the presentation of these desserts are unparalleled. Despite the complexity of flavor, the author clearly explains how to make the desserts, how to avoid pitfalls, and how to replicate her beautiful presentation. Bravo! I have long waited for a dessert book like this one!