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Chocolate Bliss:
Sensuous recipes, spa treatments, and other divine indulgences
By: Susie Norris
ISBN: 1587613476
Publisher: Celestial Arts
Publication date: November 2009
Format: Hardcover
Number of recipes: 37
List price: $16.99
Type: Ingredients: Chocolate; Desserts
Sample recipe: Nutty, Nibby Chocolate Chip Cookies
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive encyclopedia coffee-table
Meal part: all breakfast/brunch lunch dinner dessert
Competition: outclassed a bit behind in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: airfare required online specialty store supermarket pantry
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose minimal complete educational
Time conscious: not conscious bald lies white lies realistic scout's honor
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant ample generous
Photos/drawings: none drawings b&w photos occasional color all color
Art contribution: disappointing distracting decorative beautiful glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Tone: food police intense neutral helpful comforting
Result: guilt-inducing heavy-handed balanced encouraging inspiring
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine kind work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging ok clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy delicate years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: hard-to-find spotty sufficient most pages every page
Table of contents: missing frustrating minimal helpful excellent
Index: none confusing adequate nice a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writing history: beginner writer/journalist food writer writing cook personality
Cooking heritage: unknown self-taught teacher chef celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short satisfactory successful exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward good friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: Are there too many chocolate cookbooks on the market?, because this – in spite of the cover – is not a chocolate cookbook. It includes some recipes, but also sections on spa treatments, history, sustainable development, and related books, Web sites, and companies. We may be reluctant to admit it, but we would rather eat chocolate (or cook with it) than read about it.

The chapters deal with savoring chocolate through all five senses, nutritional information and how chocolate contributes to overall wellness, sustainability, and chocolate gift-giving traditions. There are pages and pages on holding a chocolate tasting. There are 15 pages of text on the health benefits of chocolate (apparently for those needing affirmation). There are 11 pages on sustainable development, organic growth and fair-trade marketing, etc., and still more pages on chocolate history and the relationship of chocolate to holidays.

Among the recipes, some are unusual – the Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette and Diet Day Dip (sweetened with Equal or Splenda) among them. There are savory dishes, including Chicken with Mole Negro Sauce, and Cocoa Chili. There certainly are indulgent chocolate recipes, but we did not count the recipes for chocolate soap, body lotion, and other spa products when we tallied up the recipes. We found the overuse of the word bonbons instead of truffles or candy to be a little precious.

Don't get us wrong; this is a very good book, we just got caught up judging a book by its cover. The book is apparently meant to broaden one's horizons regarding chocolate, but perhaps we are broad enough….


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