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Who Needs a Box of Chocolates for Valentine’s Day: Sample These Library Books Instead

13 Feb

If you or your loved ones are chocoholics, then we have three sweet recommendations to check out this Valentine’s Day!

The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes
by Maricel E. Presilla.
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Maricel Presilla has two Latin American Restaurants in Hoboken.  She did a chocolate presentation here at the library when her book on chocolate first came out and it is definitely worth checking out if you have not already.  The New Taste of Chocolate looks at everything from the early chocolate rituals of the Aztecs to the new discoveries and innovations surrounding many people’s favorite treat.  You’ll want to try out of some of the recipes with your sweet this Valentine’s Day.

The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate!
by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Rob McClurkan
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Of course Valentine’s Day isn’t just for adults.  It is fun to help my son get his Valentine’s ready for his class at school.  I remember how excited I was was each year as a kid to pick out the special card that was meant for all of my BFFs in my class.  My son enjoyed this look at the history of hot chocolate that covers the history of winter’s perfect beverage including facts like chocolate being part of the rations for Revolutionary soldiers. The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate! is best shared with a cup of warm cocoa with a sprinkling of marshmallows.  On Valentine’s Day the library is holding cookie decorating for kids; click here to learn more.  For healthy foodie fun for kids you also can check out our Cooks & Books Program.

The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg with Ann Krueger Spivack and Susie Heller
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If – like me – you have enjoyed Scharffen Berger chocolates, then you will want to check out this cookbook, the first from the duo behind the gourmet treats. The Essence of Chocolate includes sweet desserts like White Velvet Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache, but also savory dishes like vegetarian chili and a cocoa rub (perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner). The book has three sections “Intensely Chocolate”, “Essentially Chocolate” and “A Hint of Chocolate”.  You will also learn useful tips and get a behind the scenes look at how chocolate is created.

If you are looking for some chocolatey fiction check out our previous blog post where I discuss a trio of novels where chocolate helps magic and romance happen.  You can also get some Valentine’s Day song recommendations from us!

Have a favorite book about chocolate or one with great Valentine’s Day recipes?  Share it with us in the comments!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Bake Offs: Tasty Books and Prize Winning Recipes for You to Try at Home

28 Nov

My son and I love to bake together; the weekend I wrote this post we made cookies for a class party.  But one thing we love almost as much as baking itself is to watch baking competitions together on TV.  Here are a few suggestions that you might enjoy if you too love the sweet taste of victory.

Great British Baking Show
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I was curious to first checkout the Great British Baking Show because I was a fan of one of the hosts, Sue Perkins from the funny historical foodie show Supersizers Go…  I found this show just as delightful with contestants who are sweetly kind to one another rather than being cut throat like many reality competitions. They compete in three rounds: the first, a signature bake puts their unique spin on a classic, the second round where they must recreate one of the judge’s tricky bakes with minimal instructions, and a final show stopper round where the baked good frequently almost look too beautiful to eat. Even when disaster occurs and a contestant has a dreaded “soggy bottom” on one of their tarts the judges always have at least a kind word or two for the bakers. You’ll be rooting for your favorite baker and wishing you could taste the delicious looking treats they prepare.  Besides two of the seasons, Hoopla also has available Master Classes with Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood who show you how to make their special treats.

Plus you can get the behind the scenes scoop with The Story Of The Great British Bake Off by Anita Singh.  You can borrow seasons 1-5 on DVD and try out the recipes yourselves with The Great British Bake Off: Big Book of Baking and The Great British Bake Off: Perfect Cakes and Bakes to Make at Home by Linda Collister from BCCLS libraries.  Learn more about judge, Paul Hollywood, in his memoir/cookbook A Baker’s Life: From Childhood Bakes to Five-Star Excellence.

The Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Series

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Image from Hoopla

The Great British Baking Show is titled The Great British Bake Off in the UK, but changed its name because of Pillsbury’s copyright on the phrase in the US .  The Bake Off sponsored by Pillsbury is one of the most legendary in this country.  You can borrow a variety of cook books from Hoopla divided into different dishes including one on desserts which covers yummy goodies from over 50 years of competition from 1957’s now classic French Silk Chocolate Pie to more modern winners.  The book also looks back at the history of the competition and how desserts have evolved.  Each recipe includes the contestant’s name, home town, and year they competed.  You can also borrow bake off books on casseroles and specifically on making my family’s favorites: cookies and bars.

The Bake-Off
by Beth Kendrick
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The Bake-Off by Beth Kendrick use a national bake-off as the setting that brings together two very different estranged sisters. Their grandmother thinks a top-secret family pie recipe will not just have them winning the competition but also find common ground. Of course, neither one is a baker, and if you’ve ever tried to bake one you might be questioning the phrase “easy as pie.”

If you are a fan of foodie fiction you can also check out All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant where aspiring baker Kat’s best friend Lucas Brannen signs her up for TV baking competition called Cupcake Combat; it seems like Kat may achieve her dreams, but Lucas is afraid he might lose Kat to the big city.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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