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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Couture Chocolate - Book Review

I love chocolate and I LOVE this book! Couture Chocolate by William Curley is one of those books that you can't put down. The glossy, beautiful photographs will have you drooling and wanting to lick every page!

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My rum and raisin bouchée waiting to be cut and coated in chocolate

But before I go any further, I want to mention a few things so I can get onto the good stuff.
You must have incredible patience to dabble in all things chocolate, many of the recipes have quite a few stages and some of the decorations/techniques are intricate. To make the best of the book you will need some special equipment including decent chocolate moulds and a good candy thermometer. Some of the ingredients can be expensive and elusive - kinako powder and cocoa butter for example - and the book suggests using fine couverture chocolate with Trinitario or Criollo beans listed in the ingredients, the minimum amount of chocolate being 500g (1lb 2oz) for tempering.

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Nice layout and plenty of detail

I'm pretty sure all of the chocolates and cakes in the book were made in William Curley's professional kitchen, so don't be disappointed if you make something and it doesn't *ahem* come out looking quite like the photo - you've just made the 'rustic' version and it should still taste delicious. Just remember to tell yourself that William Curley is the country's top chocolatier, winning numerous awards and accolades.

The pages of Couture Chocolate are well laid out and the recipes have quite detailed, easy to follow instructions, many with step by step photos and additional notes. William explains the origins of cocoa and the importance of cocoa content. He introduces divine exotic flavours and different textures to his chocolates. Tempering chocolate is quite tricky, but he gives us a couple of different methods to try, one of which is suitable for the minimum amount of chocolate. This book is more than just chocolates and truffles, there are chapters on bars & bites, bouchées, cakes & biscuits, patisserie and a brilliant one on ice cream, sauces & drinks.

Some of the recipes that I have marked to try include chocolate rum baba, chocolate & praline spread, sea salt caramels and an awesome looking chocolate & apricot roulade. Even if some of the recipes seem a little complicated, it's worth making the effort to try them. As the desserts are so beautifully presented, you can also use the book for inspiration and ideas.

This video shows William Curley making gorgeous sea salt caramel tarts from the book, page 190 - simple huh? (!)

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My hazelnut & feuillantine cakes, if you look closely you can see one is upside down - oops!

I made two recipes from the book, little Hazelnut & Feuillantine Cakes and some Rum & Raisin Bouchée.
The cakes were covered in what was my first attempt at tempering chocolate and although the tempering went quite well, I can see a digital candy thermometer going onto my Christmas list - accuracy is the key here! 'Feuillantine wafers' were listed in the cake ingredients and after some internet research, the closest thing resembling the wafers that I could get hold of were ice cream cone wafers. Apparently, feuillantine wafers are dried crêpes!

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Substitute for the feuillantine wafers

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Cakes just out of the oven

For the the rum & raisin bouchée recipe, I just poured the chocolate mixture into a parchment lined tin as I didn't have the recommended silicone pan. This was a relatively easy recipe and the chocolates tasted fabulous.

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Finished rum & raisin bouchée

Couture Chocolate Book cover

An exciting book with some truly fantastic recipes, good ideas and beautiful photography. If you use the right equipment, recommended ingredients and have a lot of patience, you could be making chocolate delicacies to be proud of.
My rating is 9 out of 10.

The book can be bought from Amazon and all good book shops.

Couture Chocolate, by William Curley
£30.00 / Hardback, 224 pages
Publisher: Jacqui Small Llp
An Imprint of Aurum Press Ltd
October 2011
ISBN: 978-1-906417-59-8

With thanks to Dana at Quarto.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.


Janet Rudolph @ DyingforChocolate said...

Love your review of the book, photos and seeing and reading what you've already made.. Thanks

Pasta Bites said...

Funny enough, i saw your post just after reading about his Couture Afternoon Tea ... and I am now so tempted to go!!!

Nic said...

Janet - thank you!

Fede - ohoh, I bet William curley's afternoon tea would be brilliant, especially if there are some of the desserts from the book there!

Choclette said...

A good review Nic. I hadn't clocked this one before now. It looks as though it needs to be one for my collection - hey ho! I most definitely haven't mastered teh art of tempering yet. I sugar thermometer needs to go on my Christmas list too.

Anonymous said...

very not simple!

Anonymous said...

These are so beautiful! Love your photo. Saw it on foodgawker and had to take a look!

Jan said...

I'm not really one for chocolate but that rum and raisin bouchée looks GOOD! Paul would love it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Nic!
What a great review for this fantastic & appetizing looking book! I also make my chocolates from time to time & it is a lot of work but I think that in this book are great tips etc. I am so going to loook for this book!

Deeba PAB said...

Ooooh that books a winner Nic...and I think it reached the right hands because I know how much you love chocolate! Wow...that rum and raisin bouchée looks gorgeous! Mmmm ...

Unknown said...

Gorgeous book isn't it... looks like it's been keeping you busy!

Maria♥ said...

Sounds like an amazing book. I'm drooling at the chocolate goodies you made, gorgeous!


Anne said...

Did you eat the upside down one first? ;-)

Both treats look really fab Nic, well done! I'd never heard of feuilantine before but sounds good!


Amy @ Tasty Top said...

I'm a chocoholic and this sounds like something i'd love to try out today. Thanks for putting it up.

Hazel - Chicken in a Cherry Sauce said...

WoOoOoOow!! I think I know what's on the top of my Christmas list now! Even though I couldn't afford half of the ingredients, I am fascinated just to read this! Well done!!

Rita - Cake Pops said...

A book about chocolate sounds like something i'd love to read. The pictures look so delicious!