Chocolate Bliss

By Richard Frisbie


Chocolate Bliss written by Susie Norris
Subtitled: Sensuous recipes, spa treatments, and other divine indulgences.
ISBN #978-1-58761-347-0 $16.99 Hardcover

I know, I know. What is a guy well-known for his disdain for desserts, especially chocolate desserts, doing reviewing a book on chocolate?  Well, ask yourself – who could be more objective, a chocolate lover, or me?  I’m open to new ideas and ways of thinking, and I’m always willing to research the other side of a position.  In this case, I’m glad I did.

Chocolate Bliss looks like a light book – almost fluffily frivolous – in its cute 7” square size and color photos. I was not prepared for the comprehensive, informative text or the engaging writing style of the author.  Chocolate Bliss is much more than it appears.

To quote the author, Susie Norris, in her introduction:  “I am a pastry chef, chocolatier, culinary school teacher, and snickers bar sneaker.”  Right away she establishes her credentials, interest and sense of humor. I was hooked!

The book is divided into four information packed segments; each dealing with a different aspect of chocolate, and each ending in a collection of recipes.
I – Good Taste – Exploring your favorite chocolates
. . . is an explanation of the different elements of chocolate’s taste, with definitions, websites, techniques for tastings, history and a list of great books of chocolate recipes. Then Susie Norris presents “sensuous recipes: from bonbons to fondue”
II – Health and Beauty – How chocolate helps you inside and out
. . . explains how chocolate is good for you – as a health food, as a vitamin, and for your blood, heart, skin, teeth and brain. The relevant scientific studies are discussed, their findings and supporters examined, and advice on how to control your cravings is given.  She finishes with “healthy recipes: from snacks to skin care.”
III – Good Works – How you can help chocolate
. . . is a vivid account of how chocolate grows, including the importance of preserving the environment it grows in, as well as saving the way of life of the 50 million people involved in its harvesting and distribution worldwide. Throughout this you’re given the fair-trade and organic chocolate argument with sound reasons to follow it.  She then includes “earthy recipes: from chili to cheesecake.”
IV – Share the Love – the gift of chocolate
. . . begins with the Aztec myths to explain how chocolate’s perception as a “gift of the gods” continues through the Holidays and celebrations of today. Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, Easter – even Birthdays and Weddings – each has a chocolate tradition whose history is examined. The author then offers “gifting recipes: from cupcakes to white chocolate roses.”

Did You Know . . .
Ninety-eight percent of women have food cravings, as do 68 percent of men?

Chocolate generates an estimated $80 billion annual international income?

Chocolate is the third largest global commodity behind sugar and coffee?

Cocoa butter melts at around 91 degrees?

An ounce of very dark chocolate every day is healthy medicine?

Throughout the pages pithy and humorous quotes are included from literature, famous chefs, and cookbook authors. Facts and factoids from chemistry to history are also used to help reinforce the text. Chocolate Bliss is fun to read!

As for Chocolate Bliss as a cookbook, each of the attractively illustrated recipes is presented in a clear and logical manner. Methods, tips for success, and shortcuts are included in detail with the reasoning behind them. Whenever a specialized ingredient is given, it is defined, and shopping information and brand recommendations are given. It is clear that the author is a culinary instructor. She really knows how to make following the recipes easy.

I liked this book! In fact, I liked it so much I went to my local health food store and bought a bag of organic cocoa nibs* to add to the Chocolate Sugar Dough recipe (page 132) for the tart crust (page 59) for my Thanksgiving cheese cake. I told you I could keep an open mind!

*cocoa nibs are pure cocoa beans that have been fermented, hulled, roasted, and cracked, but not ground, to a paste. They have a nut-like crunch. (There are 8 references to cocoa nibs in the index.)

Chocolate Bliss by Susie Norris
Subtitled: Sensuous recipes, spa treatments, and other divine indulgences.
ISBN #978-1-58761-347-0 150 pages Hardcover $16.99