[Photograph: Deborah Jones]

Alice Medrich, the "First Lady of Chocolate", has updated her award-winning "Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate" to create Seriously Bitter Sweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker's Guide to Chocolate. Inside, you'll find stories of Alice's personal history in chocolate, from her first taste of the stuff to the opening and closing of her company, Cocolat, and the James Beard award-winning cookbooks published throughout. Personal narrative aside, Seriously Bitter Sweet is the first and only cookbook of its kind to feature chocolate recipes using various percentages of chocolate, as well as recipes built around the use of cocoa nibs.

In fact, the advent of cacao percentages is what warranted Medrich's "Bittersweet" revision in the first place. Realizing that these new classes of chocolate would yield a host of culinary conundrums, she set about revising her recipes to suit nearly every type of chocolate available. The results of what had to have been grueling, laboratory-specific tests and retests appear in "Chocolate notes", which accompany every recipe.

For example, the notes for Bittersweet Decadence Cookies, the first recipe we've chosen, provide the adjustments needed for using 61-64%, 66%, or 70-72% chocolate. Apparently, minor adjustments in butter and sugar make all the difference. This is what elevates Seriously Bitter Sweet above other confectionery books: its science-minded pursuit of results combined with elegant, creative recipes that engage, rather than alienate the aspiring dessert maker, make it truly special.

We thought it best to dial down the sugar as we head into Christmas, and to that extent, we've chosen darkly delicious chocolate desserts that are at home on the holiday table. After the cookies comes Grappa, Currant and Pine Nut Torte. Serve it on Christmas Day. There are also Coconut Saras, little mouthfuls of chewy chocolate delight. Lastly, there is the jaw-dropping Chocolate Marquise, with its cloud of candy fluff.

Win A Copy!

Thanks to the generous folks over at Artisan Books, we are giving away five (5) copies of Seriously Bitter Sweet this week. All you have to do is share the name of your most chocolate-heavy dessert!


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