Comments: A prominent cookbook editor was whining recently that, "people don't cook anymore." We told him (proudly) that Ochef readers cook and that nearly everyone cooks for holidays. Pastry chef/chocolatier Jacques Torres and his publisher might have been thinking along the same lines, as they produced a book that links fancy – but manageable – chocolate desserts and confections with seasons and holidays throughout the year.
The recipes look great, are very well explained, and appear to be within the means of cooks who know their way around a kitchen and perhaps have some experience working with chocolate. You might need to buy a mold or two for certain recipes, but there is a page of mail-order information in the back of the book.
The hole in the holiday theory is that Torres introduces each chapter (each month with its collection of holidays) by telling of the special candies and confections he makes in his stores or that he grew up eating and/or making, but then he gives a half dozen other recipes for that month, only some of which have any real link to the holidays. They're just nice recipes that use chocolate; most of them would be equally good during any other month. The book loses a certain amount of its holiday theme when, for example, there's not really anything particularly Halloweenie or Mother's-Dayish.
The other issue we have is that the confections in the (gorgeous) photos are occasionally a more professional version than what you will produce if you make the accompanying recipe. Yes, Jacques Torres, or anyone working at his level, needs to "dumb down" or edit out many recipes that are beyond most home cooks, but we think some people will be disappointed to find that the results of their labor don't – and can't – look like the pictures in the book.
Otherwise, as we said, a beautiful book with beautiful recipes.