Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cookbook Inspection (+ GIVEAWAY!): Chocolate: A Love Story by Max Brenner

Number of Recipes: 65

The Story: At first impression, this cookbook makes me squee with delight. The artwork would fit in with my dream kitchen with the sixties orange, green, and yellow and brown. The pop art would make me happy. All of the recipes sound divine and are all inspired by a girl's favorite ingredient, chocolate. But, while flipping through with my friend T, looking for a recipe to try, we quickly became disillusioned for several reasons. First, the art is great, but a lot of the pieces do not give you a feel for what you're actually making. I won't pretend to think that what I make will come out looking like what it looks like in a cookbook, but it'd be nice to have something to shoot for. Second, we'd find a recipe that sounded great and then realize that it either had exotic ingredients that we couldn't get at the store, or it has ingredients that are cost-prohibitive. Once we settled on a recipe, bought all the ingredients (see below for the bill) and started to get ready to make it, we realized that we didn't have time. There were at least three hours involved and
we hadn't planned on that much time for the recipe, so we had to postpone making our dessert
until the next week, which meant that the fresh ingredients would have to be repurchased because our strawberries would not have made it another day let alone another week. I wanted to try a recipe as-is from the book for this review, but in the future, I will utilize this book by making common sense, budget satisfying substitutions and I'll shortcut on the times.

Recipe Tried: A therapeutic chocolate pot pie (page 56)
Total time: 3 hours, 6 minutes

Cheque Please:

Flour, Sugar, Eggs, Cream Cheese, Vanilla, Parchment Paper, Plastic Wrap: on hand
Unsalted Butter: $3.98 for 2 lb. (8 sticks)
Cocoa Powder: $2.99 for standard sized container
Hazelnuts: $4.33 for 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
Heavy Cream: $1.99
White Chocolate: $6
Lemon: 50 cents
Fresh Strawberries: $1.50+3.99

Cash, Credit, or Debit Total: $25.28 +tax (take into consideration how much these things would be at your store)

Watch the process in this slideshow:
(Thank you T, for all of the pics and for your mad baking skillz and help with this)

Yum Factor: Heart It. The pot pie was yum-e, but I don't think I'll be making one again any time soon.
Salivary Factor: Heart It. All of the recipes sound yum-e.
Cost Factor: No Love. Most of the recipes cost way too much.
Practicality Factor: No Love. Sorry, I'm not taking 5 hours to make a milkshake.
Pretty Factor: Heart It. The art is gorgeous. It's just not helpful.

Who I'd Buy This Cookbook For: Single, foodie-type friends, or married childless couples who like to try their hand at gourmet.
Who I'd Discourage From Buying: Families or stay-at-home moms, or people who pinch their pennies, people who don't like chocolate.

Final Verdict: This pot pie was anything but therapeutic! This is a great guide for ideas, but you'll probably end up modifying the recipes to fit your tastes, availability and budget.

Sound like fun? Hachette provided this to me for review, and sent me an extra copy on accident. Enter your info into the form below to get your chance to win this cookbook. I bet you'd find someone to give it to for Christmas, or a place for it in your personal collection! Entries must be received by 11:59PM (MST) on November 22nd, 2009 and must be submitted into this form. Unlike most of my giveaways, this one unfortunately is only open to US residents because it is big and heavy and I don't think I can afford to ship it internationally.

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