Chocolate, the guiltiest pleasure of all

Nothing says dessert more than Linda Collister's Chocolate cookbook.

click to enlarge Chocolate, the guiltiest pleasure of all -
Chocolate, the guiltiest pleasure of all

With the holidays presenting the guiltiest pleasures around, 'tis the season for dessert. And nothing says dessert more than chocolate.

Seasoned chef and baker Linda Collister's 2002 cookbook, aptly titled Chocolate, features pages and pages of the versatile "food of the gods." Chocolate lovers definitely swoon over the array of recipes.

As the book discusses, chocolate was a luxury for most of its rich history. The Mayans and Aztecs used it for spiritual and medicinal purposes, and when chocolate was brought from the new world to Europe by Hernan Cortes, it was a drink for the Spanish court. Eventually, Dr. Hans Sloane (among others) added milk, transforming the treat into what it is today.

Before the book takes readers on a ride through a chocolate wonderland, however, it begins with a little bit about technique. The best methods for melting, dipping, curling and molding are accompanied by step-by-step instructions and tips. There's even an explanation on how to make stippled or finger-painted chocolate Easter eggs.

Then comes the real fun. Filled with more than 50 recipes, the book showcases cookies, cakes, muffins, doughnuts, waffles, ice cream and a few decadent drinks. Each entry is complemented with a picture from food photographer Martin Brigdale as well. The easy-to-make chocolate and berry roulade looks particularly delightful, and another recipe highlights a surprise egg, which, when you break away the shell, holds a mixture of chocolate, almonds and hazelnut.

Nicknamed "The Chocolate Queen," Collister, who's trained at London's Le Cordon Bleu and L'Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, is a chocolate connoisseur in her own right. Though Chocolate is just one of her three books focusing on the sweet staple, it allows readers to indulge their food fantasies just fine.

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