26 October 2009

View and Review : Divine, Heavenly Chocolate Recipes


The devoted bloggers over at BloggerAid...Changing the Face of Famine are always coming up with wonderful new initiatives, and recently they've launched the View and Review program, in which agreements were reached to partner cookbook publishers with BloggerAid and to offer members participation in book and product reviews. I, of course, immediatly signed up, very excited about the prospect of getting free cookbooks, testing new recipes and then telling you about it!



Then, when I finally got my first one, I got sick! So... while I meant to test at least 3 or 4 recipes before writing, I only got to test 2. I did however, read quite a few of the recipes AND drool over -- er, I mean, look at -- all the pictures. My other quick caveat is that Divine: Heavenly Chocolate Recipes, published by Absolute Press, is a recipe book that's supposed to accompany Divine chocolate (a fair-trade farmer-owned chocolate company "with a heart"), which unfortunately is not distributed in France. I did buy organic fair-trade chocolate products to test their recipes, but I'm sure they would've been better with the chocolate for which they were written!


Divine has a great introduction with the story of Divine chocolate, the meanings of the Adinkra symbols on their products, as well as helpful tips about working with chocolate. The cookbook is very well presented. The recipes are laid out in a way that is easy to read at a glance. You can quickly see if the recipe is a complicated or simple and whether or not it appeals to you. There are a wide ranges of recipes from cookies to brownies to cheesecakes to drinks and even a small savory section with a couple recipes that would be great for the holidays. Also all the oven temperatures are in Celcius, Fahrenheit and gas mark -- very useful for those of us straddling systems!

Considering that, I was surprised that author seems to assume that we all have every modern convenience. I would have liked to have seen alternative methods proposed for those without a food mixer or other amenities.


I tested both the Butterscotch Swirl Brownies and the Honey Chocolate Madeleines and both times had some trouble with the batter (again, possibly because I didn't have the right chocolate). When I tried to swirl the chocolate into the brownies, it mostly ended up mixing in in some places and staying on top in others, making the texture a little mushy once cooked. (Though still yummy of course.)


I didn't quite master the Honey Chocolate Madeleine batter either, which never became thick at the beginning, like it was supposed to, and the end result tasted good but had a texture more like cakey brownies than like madeleines.



Still, there are quite a few delicious-looking recipes still to try (White Chocolate Cookies Studded with Cranberries, Toasted Pecan Shortbreads, Lemon and Chocolate Tart...) and I know some guinea pigs who will be happy to test until I get the batter just right!

A big thank you to Absolute Press and View and Review for letting me test this cookbook!

17 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That sounds like a brilliant book! everything looks really scrumptius!

Cheers,

Rosa

giz said...

Thanks for your thorough review Hope. I wonder if the author could address the differences you found working with the chocolate. The madelaines do look pretty yummy in spite of the fact that they probably came out heavier than what you're used to.

Bellini Valli said...

So glad you had the opportunity to try a droolworthy book about chocolate and other sweet treats Hopie. Glad you're feeling better!!!

maybelle's mom said...

even a brownie shaped like a madeleine is not a bad thing, no? good review.

Hopie said...

Rosa - It was certainly fun to test out!

Giz - Hm yeah, I was wondering. I've never had Divine chocolate before, but, having read their story, I'd like to try it!

Val - Thank you! I did have fun.

Maybelle's Mom - Very true. Still pretty and yummy so I can't complain :-)

Sam said...

At least the recipes tasted delicious even if they didn't turn out quite right.

You can get Divine chocolate easily in the UK, perhaps next time you visit you could stock up!

Camille said...

Sign me up for that gunea pig list, please! :)\

G. Detou is a good place to buy chocolate in bulk, if needs be...

Sunshinemom said...

I like your review. I too prefer books that give alternate methods or have separate columns for method with mixer and method by hand. It is really convenient as I too do not have some of those gadgets at present! I hope your other dishes come out better:)

Hopie said...

Sam - Good idea. Now I have yet another reason to come back to England ;-)

Camille - Oooh, good tip about chocolate (is that where you bought kilos of it that you then dragged to the movies?).

Sunshinemom - Well thank you. And thanks for stopping by.

rachel said...

That is a great ook to review ...I just love the cover design so it must be obviously good inside as well.. Good review and scrumptious dishes...

Hopie said...

Rachel - Thanks for coming by to check it out! It certainly was fun to review.

Psychgrad said...

Actually - I was reminded to post about The Cookbook People when I came to your blog last night. So - thanks for the reminders!

The cookbook looks beautiful from the outside -- I know, I know - don't judge a book by its cover.

I'm surprised that the type of chocolate would have such an effect on the results of the cookbook. I understanding wanting to cross-market with a producer or distributor of the main ingredient in a cookbook, but it does limit the audience if the product isn't available internationally.

Good job on the review! I like to hear the good and bad.

croquecamille said...

Precisely. :)

Hopie said...

Psychgrad - Happy to be a reminder :-) Yeah, I don't know if it was the chocolate that was that different or what. Seems limiting, like you say, but I'd have to try it with Divine chocolate to be sure. (I think they should've sent me some with the book!)

Joie de vivre said...

What a wonderful review! I hope you're feeling better. Thank you, as always, for stopping by my blog. You mentioned something about poached peaches...would you do that in white wine? Or in red?

Hopie said...

Joie de Vivre - Thank you! Heading over to your blog to answer but the short answer is probably both are good!

Aparna said...

This sounds like a great book to me. All the more, becuase it is all about chocolate which is an absolute favourite of mine. :)