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Showing 1-10 of 11 reviews(5 star)show all reviews
on August 31, 2003
It would be hard not to like this cookbook. I've made six cakes and one icing so far, and each one has been my "favorite cake ever" until I made the next.
Until I looked through this book, I had no idea there were so many different varieties of chocolate cake. Even if you take away the cakes made from white chocolate, the white and yellow cake layers destined to hold chocolate frostings, and the pudding made with leftover chocolate cake crumbs, Urvater has compiled dozens of exciting recipes that can each undeniably be called chocolate cake. Some are quite exotic - one is made with potatoes, another with beets, still another with tea leaves - while others are straightforward.
Grading the recipes by difficulty level is a nice touch, as are the "plated dessert" suggestions on many of the recipes. The information about ingredients, equipment, and the different categories of cakes is also very useful. I could wish for more pictures, but it's also exciting to make something new and see what it looks like afterwards.
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on June 2, 2003
This is an excellent book for those who like to make chocolate cakes but may not be a skilled, experienced baker. If you are an average person who is trying to bake that chocolate cake at home, then I can happily recommend this book.
The most important feature of this book is that all recipes are rated according to difficulty. Those who are beginners can choose easy recipes, while those who are already adept at angel food cakes and butter cream frostings can go directly for the complicated ones. Bakers of all abilities will be able to find a recipe that fits your skill level. For example, she correctly identifies French butter cream frostings as difficult. Other recipes that are impressive and seem to be hard are actually easy to do, and this book will rate them as such.
This book has a lot going for it besides the rating system. The first 50 pages or so give you just the right amount of information so you can do the recipes. It is also very good about telling you what kind of equipment you will need for the various recipes. The recipes are clear and easy to follow most of the time. It also has a good dissertation on various types of icings and frostings, and matching them up to various cakes. The only short point here is the subject of matching up refrigerated versus cakes that can be stored at room temperature and what icings and frostings will match them.
There are a few problems, but they are minor. The description of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate is not correct. The statement that margarine can be substituted for baking in all recipes is also not correct, since the margarine can have wildly differing amounts of water that will have unpredictable results on any one recipe. The author is a trained, professional baker. This is often good, as the instructions are based on tried and true professional techniques that really work (which is sadly not true of many books about baking), but she often overestimates the abilities of beginner bakers. The vocabulary can have professional terms or techniques not otherwise explained, and the difficulty rating of some of the recipes should be increased; for example, anything that involves whipping and folding egg whites should be intermediate, not easy.
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on January 18, 2002
A perfect book to curl up with this winter! Not only is it beautiful to peruse, but it is interesting to read and comprehensive in its scope. If you love chocolate, it's a perfect find. From the history and detailed explanation of what chocolate is derived from, to the annotated shopping- by-mail guide (that means a lot to those of us living in remote parts of the country), this book is invaluable.
Then come the recipes. The range, once again is complete. Urvater is careful to rate the difficulty of each recipe, satisfying the beginner pastry chef to the most adventuresome. Her personal notes make it a special read. And the cakes are incredible. Flourless ones, cakes with ghianduia creams, to multiple brownie recipes. I always look forward to trying new ones.
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on January 7, 2002
If you love cake, if you love chocolate, if you love to bake, this book is one you cannot do without. It is the best dessert book I have read in years. Urvater is a superb writer, whose recipes are clear and always work. Her obvious love for her subject comes through in every recipe I have tried. I did not try the coconut cake because I don't like coconut, but Potato Chocolate Chip Cake, Yeasted Chocolate Cake, Autumn Chestnut Cake, to take just three, are divine. Her chapters on frostings and decorating are excellent and easy to follow. I come from a long line of chocolate cake lovers, and I have to say, this book really went straight to my heart. I will use it gratefully and sinfully for years to come.
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on January 3, 2002
The fact that the whole book was made in chocolatey colors made me want to eat it right from the start. From the brown text to the amazingly sumptuous photographs, any cake I baked from the book already had VERY high expectations. Much to my pleasure, what I've tasted from the book was even better than the book's physical appearance. (That says a lot right there!) The simple cake recipes-- just the plain old chocolate cakes-- were perfect. Definitely a book I love having on my shelf. When things get overwhelming, I just take refuge in the wonderful world of Chocolate Cake!!!
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on January 3, 2002
The fact that the whole book was made in chocolatey colors made me want to eat it right from the start. From the brown text to the amazingly sumptuous photographs, any cake I baked from the book already had VERY high expectations. Much to my pleasure, what I've tasted from the book was even better than the book's physical appearance. (That says a lot right there!) The simple cake recipes-- just the plain old chocolate cakes-- were perfect. Definitely a book I love having on my shelf. When things get overwhelming, I just take refuge in the wonderful world of Chocolate Cake!!!
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on January 14, 2002
My sister gave me this cookbook knowing my passion and weakness for chocolate and I am so happy that she did. I immediately tried the coconut cake and although there were many steps, it was clear and easy to follow and it also produced a delicious cake. Just reading through the index makes my mouth water and I can't wait to try more of the recipes. This is a great baking book for those of you who love desserts and wish baking recipes could be more clear. Well done Michele. Thanks
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on December 3, 2001
Chocolate Cake is eminently readable and usable; a cookbook for novices and experienced bakers alike. It has all those favorite chocolate cake recipes in one place, so you don't have to search through a number of cookbooks for just the right recipe. It's well-organized and appealingly written. I especially liked Urvater's comments about each recipe. This is a keeper.
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on January 7, 2002
I loved this book, in which Ms. Urvater shares her sophisticated appreciation of chocolate without any of the "foodier-than-thou" attitude of a lot of professional chefs. But more than that, I loved the recipes, all of which turned out flawless (and delicious) cakes. This woman knows chocolate!
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on October 2, 2002
This is an excellent and highly readable cookbook that combines great recipes with interesting social history tidbits that inform without being too esoteric. I have made several cakes from it already, and have been impressed with how well the recipes are written and what a pleasure it is to browse.
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