Don’t Lick the Pages: A Chocolate Library
As a chocolatier, I’m always looking to share knowledge of my craft with others. Amid a sea of books on the subject, I’ve compiled a list of those I think are the most invaluable resources. Whether you’re new to the world of chocolate or skilled and looking to advance, get ready to dive in!
Here’s my go-to list of resources for all things chocolate:
The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz
The former Chez Panisse pastry chef gives readers a brief but thorough look into everything from how cacao is grown and chocolate is created, to resources on where to purchase quality chocolate. Not to mention, he includes over 30 of his own solid recipes (all containing chocolate, of course!). I love this book because Lebovitz delivers spot-on information in a concise manner, interwoven with his own personality and humor. That makes for an entertaining and reliable resource.
The True History of Chocolate (3rd Edition) by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe
The most comprehensive history of chocolate, from its origins in Mayan and Aztec times up to its present-day industrialized production. This well-written book is the product of a distinguished husband-and-wife team: an anthropologist with a specialization in Mayan history and a renowned culinary history writer. Expect to spend a lot of time digesting this resource — it’s quite heady, and you’ll walk away with a lot of in-depth information.
Chocolates and Confections (2nd Edition) by Peter Greweling
In this CIA textbook (that’s the Institute, not the Agency!), Chef Greweling dives into the details of crafting everything from truffles and candy bars to hard candy and fudge. Written for professionals by a master in the field, it’s chock-full of how-to’s and super-precise recipes intended for use by artisan chocolate shops. As a result, it may be too advanced for some — but it’s still the most comprehensive and trusted source for learning how to make any type of candy, and that’s why it makes my list. For those looking for a comparable learning tool, only with less of a scientific bent and with recipes scaled for the home, check out Greweling’s Chocolates and Confections at Home.
The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook by Liz Gutman and Jen King
This cookbook is a wonderful introduction to candy making that’s approachable and fun. I love it because it spans a wide spectrum of recipes (all home-sized), from basic buttercrunch and ganache to more advanced fig-and-ricotta caramels and barley-tea-and-honey lollipops. It’s part “encouraging teacher” and part “creative spark” — and promises a little something for everyone.
Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate by Pam Williams and Jim Eber
This fascinating book is about the process of transforming bean into bar, and what the future of chocolate holds. The authors cover everything from the genetics of cacao to sustainable farming practices, educating consumers about chocolate, and how fine chocolates are made. If you’re curious about fair trade, farming practices, and the journey from plant to final product, this is a solid read. I learned quite a bit from the interviews they conducted with farmers, producers, and others in the industry.
I hope this brief list inspires you to pick up your first book about chocolate, build on skills you already have, or just get excited with some creative new ideas! Above all, enjoy your journey into the world of fine chocolate.
And if you get hungry (it’s unavoidable) — remember, nothing accompanies a good read about chocolate like… great chocolate!