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A Year in Chocolate

80 Recipes For Holidays and Special Occasions

by Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres' A Year in Chocolate

Master French pastry chef Jacques Torres (aka Mr. Chocolate) offers cocoa cravers everywhere the chance to indulge in some sinfully sweet treats all year round, with his cookbook, A Year in Chocolate: 80 Recipes for Holidays and Special Occasions. As the title suggests, the main ingredient in the majority of these recipes is bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. However, don't expect to find your run-of-the-mill chocolate chip cookie in this book. Rather, Torres surprises readers with an elegant array of creative and seasonal delights.

Each section of the book is devoted to a month or set of months and the corresponding celebrations and festivities. You'll find plenty of classic French desserts like chocolate crème brûlée, fours pochés, pain au chocolat and soufflé au chocolat. But what's really exciting is Torres' collection of fun, holiday treats like chocolate-covered fortune cookies for New Year's and chocolate-covered Matzo during Passover. Fall favorites include chocolate caramel popcorn and brittle with pumpkin seeds and cranberries. Celebrate the end of the year with a traditional bûche de Noël for Christmas or a tempting chocolate bread pudding. Although a handful of recipes are a bit labor intensive, most are made easy for the everyday cook.


Chocolate Caramel Popcorn

1 cup popping corn
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound bittersweet, milk, or white chocolate, tempered

Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Pop the corn by your usual method, but use no oil and add no salt. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan large enough to hold the popped corn. Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan, place the pan over medium-high heat, and heat, without stirring, until the mixture registers 311˚F. Stir in the baking soda, taking care, as it will cause the mixture to bubble up. Then quickly add the popcorn and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon to coat the corn evenly with the caramel. Scrape the caramel corn onto the prepared baking pan, pushing it out evenly over the bottom of the pan to avoid clumping. Let cool completely. Once cool, break up any clumps with your hands.

Transfer the caramel corn to a large bowl. Gradually ladle the chocolate over the caramel corn while stirring with a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Continue stirring until all of the corn is nicely covered. Let cool completely. Serve immediately, or store, tightly covered, in a cool spot for a day or two.

Reviewed by Sophie Gayot

(Updated: 03/24/09 LB)

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