February is for Chocolate Lovers

I think a lot of times our relationship with food goes back to a childhood memory. My relationship with chocolate comes from my mom. She was obsessed with chocolate. Obsessed. Especially dark chocolate. I always think of her when people say they are “chocoholics”. To me, she was the original. One of my fondest memories is of my mom cozying up with her Hershey’s Special Dark Bar. She would eat it in bed, and sometimes polish off the whole thing in one sitting. She was known to hide it from the rest of the family. Every year on Valentine’s Day my dad went to Emile’s candy shop, a local shop in Oceanside, New York that was up to my mom’s standards, to get their special 2 pound box of chocolates. I am not sure which was better, watching my mother’s joy while eating them, or watching her identify each individual chocolate just by looking at them.

If you have a fondness for chocolate, or if it brings back sweet memories for you, here is a list of great books and websites for the chocoholic in you to enjoy.

Chocolate: a healthy passion by Shara Aaron
Chocolate: a healthy passion by Shara Aaron

This enjoyable book will serve to deepen your love and also your understanding of chocolate. After reading this pleasurable and educational account by two leading dietitians, you will agree that chocolate is much more than simply a treat. You will discover it encompasses a culture, a cuisine, a treatment, and much more! With luscious photography and enticing recipes, this delightful, even mouthwatering, book will bring your appreciation for this gift of Mother Nature to a new level.


Candyfreak: a journey through the chocolate underbelly of America by Steve Almond
Candyfreak: a journey through the chocolate underbelly of America by Steve Almond

Perhaps you remember the whipped splendor of the Choco-Lite, or the luscious Caravelle bar, or maybe the sublime and perfectly balanced Hershey's Cookies 'n Mint. Steve Almond certainly does. In fact, he was so obsessed by the inexplicable disappearance of these bars-where'd they go?-that he embarked on a nationwide journey to uncover the truth about the candy business. Candyfreak explores the role candy plays in our lives as both source of pleasure and escape from pain. By turns ecstatic, comic, and bittersweet, Candyfreak is the story of how Steve Almond grew up on candy-and how, for better and worse, candy has grown up, too.

Bittersweet: recipes and tales from a life in chocolate by Alice Medrich
Bittersweet: recipes and tales from a life in chocolate by Alice Medrich

It is hard, today, to imagine a time when the word bittersweet was rarely spoken, when 70 percent of the chocolate purchased by Americans was milk chocolate. Today's world of chocolate is a much larger universe, where not only is the quality better and variety wider, but the very composition of the chocolate has changed. To do justice to these new chocolates, which contain more pure chocolate and less sugar, we need a fresh approach to chocolate desserts-a new kind of recipe-and someone to crack the code for substituting one chocolate for another in both new and classic recipes. With nearly 150 recipes-each delicious and foolproof, no matter your level of expertise- Bittersweet answers every chocolate question, teaches every technique, confides every secret, satisfies every craving.

Chocolate wars: the 150-year rivalry between the world’s greatest chocolate makers by Deborah Cadbury
Chocolate wars: the 150-year rivalry between the world’s greatest chocolate makers by Deborah Cadbury

With a cast of characters that would not be out of place in a Victorian novel, Chocolate Wars tells the story of the great chocolatier dynasties, through the prism of the Cadburys. It tells the story of one of the great global business rivalries as each chocolate maker attempted to dominate its domestic market and innovate new recipes for chocolate that would set it apart from its rivals. The contest was full of dramatic contradictions: the Cadburys were austere Quakers who found themselves making millions from an indulgent product; Kitty Hershey could hardly have been more flamboyant yet her husband was moved by the Cadburys tradition of philanthropy. Each was a product of their unique time and place yet they shared one thing: they wanted to make the best chocolate in the world.

Chocolate Chocolate : the true story of two sisters, tons of treats, and the little chocolate shop that could by Frances and Ginger Park
Chocolate Chocolate : the true story of two sisters, tons of treats, and the little chocolate shop that could by Frances and Ginger Park

When their beloved father died suddenly, the authors comforted themselves with chocolates and mused on opening a confectionery shop with their small inheritance. Bit by bit, their clientele grows; the sisters write fondly and often humorously of the recurring characters in their new, chocolate-centric lives, from favorite customers to the kooky sales rep who becomes an employee and dear friend. They easily move between musings on friendship and family, all the while offering inspiration and valuable lessons for budding entrepreneurs. The recipe for their house truffle rounds out this appealing, engaging memoir that is sure to appeal to a range of readers, chocoholics or not.

Here are some websites to indulge your cravings:

The Story of Chocolate Created by the National Confectioners Association's Chocolate Council, the site talks about all things chocolate from where it comes from, what it is exactly, and how to savor it.

Mr. Chocolate All about Master Pastry Chef Jacques Torres, this site covers topics from how he created his own chocolate to his artisanal chocolate shops in New York City. He is practically a modern day Willy Wonka.

Chocolate Tours of NYC Get a taste of luxury, new cuisine, or neighborhood chocolate spots of New York City with a bit of history thrown in.

Chocolate Quiz Check your Chocoholic IQ provided by WebMD and see if your IQ is bittersweet or a chocolate know-it-all.

Ilene Zutty

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