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.
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? (!)
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!
Substitute for the feuillantine wafers
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.
Finished rum & raisin bouchée
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.
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