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Couture Chocolate: A Masterclass in Chocolate [Hardcover]

William Curley

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2011
A masterclass that unveils all the techniques and secrets a chocolate lover could wish for, before moving on to the mouth-watering array of recipes—like Thyme and Honey Filled Chocolates and Madagascan Chocolate Ice Cream
This much-loved confectionary's origins are covered first, from the quality of cocoa pods to the varieties of beans, as well as the importance of cocoa content, the difference between the three types of chocolate—plain, milk, and white—and how to appreciate the quality of chocolate. Next, one of the most skilled chocolatiers in the world shares his secrets and recipes. He starts with the basics of tempering and making a bar of chocolate, with advice on how to add flavors—from sesame to Szechuan pepper and rosemary to raspberry—or introduce textures such as chocolate nibs. Once these skills have been mastered, it is time to make some fantastic chocolate creations. Truffle flavors include house dark, framboise, and noval vintage port, while filled chocolates include apricot and wasabi, pistachio, sea salt caramel, and black rice vinegar. Patisserie recipes include Toscano chocolate cadeaux, chocolate and sea salt caramel tarts, and mille-feuilles of chocolate. Cakes and biscuits include chocolate and yuzu cakes, matcha financiers, and miso and walnut biscuits. Other recipes include mousses and soufflés; ice creams; and chocolate sauces, icings, fillings, frostings, and spreads. Includes dual measurements.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press (Nov. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906417598
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906417598
  • Product Dimensions: 27.2 x 21.3 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #226,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"William’s talent and expertise were evident from the early days spent with me at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons. His chocolates and patisseries are like no other—he was one of the first to produce such incredible and innovative creations outside of France. I am thrilled that he has excelled professionally in this field."  —Raymond Blanc

"William has that terribly rare thing—the determination to succeed born out of hard work. Most young chefs want to be famous more than just being good at what they do. William never takes shortcuts. He so deserves his success."  —Marco Pierre White

"[An] inspiring, artfully photographed cookbook featuring exquisite confections worthy of a display case."  —Library Journal

"[A] masterclass that unveils all the techniques and secrets a chocolate lover could wish for, before moving on to the mouth-watering array of recipes—like Thyme and Honey Filled Chocolates and Madagascan Chocolate Ice Cream."  —Desserts Magazine

"This is one of those cookbooks I just want to sit down and read from cover to cover all in one night."  —Blogcritic.org

 "This book will be the queen of your coffee table books"  —San Francisco Book Review.com

About the Author

William Curley is an award–winning patissier, chocolatier, and the proprietor with his wife of two chocolate boutiques named William Curley. He was awarded the Best British Chocolatier accolade for 2007, 2008, and 2009 by the Academy of Chocolate. He spent six years at numerous Michelin-starred establishments and has won numerous awards.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ~ I've become a Chocolate Goddess ~ March 18 2012
By Bre - Published on Amazon.com
As a female and well, as a human, I never met a chocolate I didn't like but I am also clueless about chocolate. My biggest chocolate moment was when my mother visited me when I lived in NYC and wanted me to drive her to Hershey Pa to see where her Hershey Kisses came from. We did, we took the tour and the whole shabang but I still never let it sink in that creating all different forms of cocoa I have popped in my mouth over the years are a lot of hard work and effort and I took them for granted, then I got this book.

It was a first for me. I love home cooking and love cookbooks, not just to make new recipes but to read and to learn as much as I can about food. But I have never delved into any forms of chocolate. I am not gonna lie, I can't walk by a good chocolate shop without dropping a fair amount of money and would probably kick anyone in the shin if they tried to take my last salted caramel but I've never really given it a lot of thought on how to make my own or any form of creating squat with chocolate. I came across this book after the holidays with a sale with a popular cookbook book club and they had a $10 sale if you bought so many books. Like I could pass up that deal. I will take to my grave how much $ I spent but it landed me more cookbooks than I need for the entire of 2012. Not that that is gonna make any difference as I just ordered a new cookbook on macarons, but this is by far my favorite. I have tried several "recipes" I cringe to even call them recipes because they are truly magnificent creations that just make me happy and have allowed me to give some very ingenious gifts in the past couple of months.

To just list my favorite recipes isn't enough on this. I wanted to point out that Mr Curley has really given some excellent instructions on the methods that are needed to do everything from the first chapter 'An Approach to Chocolate' in which he gives you the origins of chocolate to how you get from a bean to the all time favorite chocolate bar. He also goes into such things on learning how to taste chocolate. I had no idea there could be up to 400 aromas in one piece of chocolate. For me, learning how to judge chocolate sounds a whole lot better than the clarity of a diamond. Let's face it, most of us run across a good chocolate bar and enjoy them more often than admiring all our diamonds. And last time I checked, I couldn't couldn't use the excuse that diamonds are good for my health, therefore it WAS Ok to have another. I am sure I will get some eyerolls on that one, but its just my opinion. You will learn about how to store your chocolate, a ton of information on how to temper it correctly & how to make a delectable ganache. Plus you will amass all kinds of fantastic tips ranging from flavor combinations to how to make chocolate hoops & various decoration. He has something listed for just about every technique & recipe, which has taught me a lot.

This is a gorgeous hardcover book of 224 pages that will blow your mind and seriously if you don't read most of it with a piece of chocolate or a truffle in your hand while doing so then you just aren't getting the point. In all seriousness, this is truly a beautiful book. The pictures are divine. I am a lover of good pictures in cookbooks. And this book does not disappoint. It is one pictorial foodgasm right after another. This is on of the few cookbooks on the market that truly has a at least one picture for almost all the recipes. Because the dingdongs (pun intended) that publised this book have not listed the chapters in the description, I will take it upon myself to list them for you:
An Approach to Chocolate
Chocolate Essentials
Couture Chocolates
Bars & Bites
Cakes & Biscuits
Ice Cream, Sauces & Drinks

He also has some good information towards the back of the book:
Ingredients & Equipment
Directory & Acknowledgments

I have ordered a few things already from a couple companies in his list for equipment. So far, they seem to be mainly based in the UK or Europe but I haven't checked to see if there are any in the US or other countries but I have had good success with the few items I ordered just recently from the two places I used.

Just to give you a quick list of a couple of my favorite recipes:
Sea Salt Caramel ...My personal all time favorite way to eat chocolate (I never in my life expected to be making my own couture chocolates with embossed decorations on the top. Made me feel like I did when I ate at the patisserie in the Bellagio when I was in Vegas for the holidays)

Chocolate & Pistachio Cake ... For the first time my cake actually looked like the cake in the picture. And it tasted like heaven. The author list each recipe in sections. For this particular recipe it had an apricot confit, chocolate cake & the pistachio cake. He lists each item in grams & cups/tsp, etc so if you don't use a kitchen scale, shame on you but you can still get by. He also will tell you what kind of equipment you will need for each endeavor so you shouldn't ever be in a pickle when trying to make sure everything comes together as it should.

White Chocolate Martini ... Better than any I've had in any restaurants I've had, which isn't a great thing as I REALLY enjoyed them and enjoyed making them more than once.

I've enjoyed making the truffles and working with chocolate moulding. I think this is such an art and I respect pastry chefs more than I ever have. I now truly see the requirement to spend so much on a good treat. They are worth it, especially now that I am beginning to see how much detail and how many steps are required to create some of these amazing sweet delicacies. I am looking forward to delving into the chapter of items for Patisseries. The items in that chapter are look amazing and so detailed I am excited to jump into that but know that it is going to be a journey that will excite me but at the same time I will probably gain a few more gray hairs. In my big family we have a spring holiday approaching and I plan to make my first Entremet. I am sure my family will not even realize the depth of hardwork that will go into it but for me it will be a challenge and a reward to even know I could attempt it.

In closing on what is my longest review on anything, I want to say that if you love chocolate and you are a pastry chef, this is an awesome tool for you to enjoy and you will probably understand all the terms that I have had to research and you will know so many of the techniques that I am just learning. At thesame time this is a great book for the home cook, like me because the author does such a great job to break things down so we don't feel like complete idiots. For to the guy/gal who owns her own bakery or even you own patisserie I would imagine you would find some great new creations for your display and enjoy the smiles your customers will give you when they bite into the chocolate lollipop they got for their kid or for the Blackcurrant Teacakes you made for someone's birthday bash.

The only thing I am disappointed in is the simple fact that a publishing company would take the time to back such a wonderful author and a lovely book but can't take more than 5 minutes to write a review to entice a customer into purchasing it. I live in the midwest and since Borders put their head in the sand and screwed themselves out of a thriving business I have to drive 30 minutes to the nearest bookstore (and I am not a fan of the chain) so I do most of my book shopping online and it really ticks me off when a book like this that is basically bought when you are able to flip through the pages & see the list of recipes and read some of the techniques and see the size, etc. But they can't take the time to market this properly. Let's face it, had it not been for that ridiculous sale I ran across in Dec I wouldn't have even ran across this book. But now that I have I am so glad I was in one of those "late night let's drop another book in the online cart and see if I can give my postal carrier a hernia for Christmas" moods then I wouldn't have had this chance to start learning a really fun new craft and know that lately I have been able to mark the first thing off my daily to-do list because it is always 'eat more chocolate' I really wish the publishing company would take the time to post pictures of this book. If I get time this week I will take some quick pics and post them because seeing is truly believing.

Good luck and remember, There is much more to life than chocolate, but just not right now.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chocolate Pastries for Experienced Bakers March 30 2012
By George Erdosh - Published on Amazon.com
Couture Chocolate is a very unusual cookbook. The cookbook was prepared for the British market but, thankfully, the publisher added measurements, food and equipment terms U.S. bakers also understand. This is a large-format, lavishly produced book using a photographer whose food photography should be in art galleries; every one of them is stunning and beyond mouth-watering. This book will make the queen of your coffee table books.

This is not a book for the casual baker. Only highly experienced bakers and professionals will be able to reproduce the recipes and only those familiar with the finicky field using chocolate. The 10-page introduction helps to familiarize you with the intricacies of working with chocolate. Even with experience, you will be spending hours in the kitchen but the end result (if successful) will be spectacular. Many series of small photos help you go through the steps of recipes. The layout of the book is excellent. Head notes, if they appear, are brief and instructive. Each recipe lists equipment needed. Many recipes require previous preparations. Ingredients are generally available but some will be hard to find (e.g. yuzu, matcha). A useful ingredient and equipment list appears before the index. (As reviewed for Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review.)
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an incredible book June 8 2012
By Michele - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am now examining this book for the first time, after having ordered it. I have not tried any recipe in it yet. I have never seen a book like this. This book primarily teaches people on how to make professional chocolates (as in individual pieces - filled ones, bite-sized morsels, but also bars, cakes, mousses, pastries, and all kinds of chocolate treats). I didn't actually have an interest in that particularly when I bought it; I am wanting to learn all things technical about chocolate, so I took a chance on it. However, I think the book has pretty much sold me on trying to do what the book tries to teach you - how to make chocolates and chocolate treats. They are incredibly appetizing - as in other-worldly. The photographs also are phenomenal. You are going to be pretty much begging for these things once you see the pictures. There are lot of photos of steps along the way of making the recipe, plus the finished item - close up. The text is highly readable and steps are clearly marked and well-explained. It is really an exceptional book in every respect. Pretty much every recipe looks appetizing and devourable - no matter your taste. These things are so delectable-looking that I don't know how they could not taste fabulous. The quantity of every ingredient is listed in three ways: grams, oz and units (ie egg yolks: 125 g / 4-1/2 oz / about 6 eggs). Needed equipment is clearly identified. Complicated recipes are so well broken-down that they actually seem achievable for the confident, practiced cook, even though looking at the pictures of the finished product, I would never dream of trying otherwise. There are 9 pages of text, plus a few pages of photos only, that address "chocolate basics." This book could easily carry you through a life-time of chocolate-love, with a never ending stream of lusciousness - assuming you are willing to work for it. But there would be an exquisite pleasure in trying, no matter the outcome. Chocolate is treated as an art form in this book. You will love it, if even just to dream with!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Equal Parts Art Book, Recipe Book, and First-Rate Instruction Manual. Nov. 24 2012
By Robbin Warner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Fine artisan chocolates should look as beautiful as they taste. Willam Curley's Couture Chocolate: A Masterclass in Chocolate takes it a step further moving artisan chocolates from culinary creations to five-star food artistry.

From the first page to the last, the exquisite photographs are a rare treat in chocolate as fine art. Photographer Jose Lasheras redefines chocolate photography in his exquisite staging of the chocolates. His culinary choreography tells stories of taste, texture, color and shape. I found myself wanting to reproduce the staging of the photographs with my own chocolates the way a person reproduces the paintings of the great masters to learn their technique.

For me, pretty pictures alone do not justify buying a cookbook. When it comes to Couture Chocolates amazing photographs are merely one of its assets. This book is equal parts art book, recipe book, and first-rate instruction manual.

The book begins with a chapter titled "Chocolate Essentials" that lays out the basics of working with fine chocolate. Topics include a clear and concise explanation of the different types of chocolates as well as sections with tips on tasting chocolate and advice on shelf life and storage. There is even a sidebar addressing the differences between making chocolates in a commercial kitchen versus a home kitchen.

What makes this chapter standout are the sections on tempering chocolate and making a basic ganache. I would go so far as to say they are worth the price of the book. Because tempering and making a basic ganache are two of the most important skills involved in making fine chocolate desserts, one cannot underestimate the importance of their mastery. Each skill set is presented with well-crafted photographs and approachable text such that one feels as if Curley himself is giving you a personal demonstration. I particularly appreciated the sidebars addressing such topics as the benefits of using inverted sugar and the issues involved in tempering small amounts of chocolate.

The high standard set in this first chapter of the marriage of detailed and clear photographs with thoughtfully written instructions for the novice chocolatier continues throughout each chapter. From truffles to molded and enrobed chocolates, to bars and plated desserts, each recipe is more than a list of ingredients. Recipes are the foundation to take the reader on a tour of all things involved in that particular type of chocolate delight. No issues or nuance of composition is too small to address in words and photographs.

I bought the book after following William Curley on Facebook. I have a large library of chocolate cookbooks, probably didn't need any more, but I'm so glad I purchased it. I find I learn something every time I open the book to look up a recipe or a technique. If you are just learning to work with chocolate or are a seasoned home chocolatier, this book is a must-have.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars perfect for the pro, aspirational for the intermediate, and sighingly sensual for the beginner Nov. 2 2012
By A. Mishra - Published on Amazon.com
the book is phenomenal in how it looks and explains the details of chocolate making. I love baking and I loveee chocolate, but I am far from perfect. which means that this book is a little intimidating and aspirational for me and requires more than just a few hours effort. it requires multiple efforts, practice and passion (oh and the ability to afford failures). but if you have those and the time, this is the perfect book. it is exhaustive, detailed, alluringly pretty and very well described. it is from the master himself and hence of quite high standard in terms of the recipe and quality of stuff used. however, buyer beware, not everything used in the book is easy on the pocket. i aim to someday master the recipes in the book. but till then i am going to start from the back, the cakes section which is more of my forte, than the front which is all couture chocolates. but believe me, i am not letting go of this book. one day, i will come back to say how easy and perfect the recipes are. till then, let me just admire the chocolates :)

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