CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006
Kids Can Press has another book in the “Kids Can Do It!” series, Elizabeth MacLeod's Chock Full of Chocolate. From its scrumptiously illustrated cover showing a variety of chocolaty treats to its many easy recipes, this book will appeal to anyone who adores chocolate. And who doesn't love chocolate? Even the latest fitness trend in New York includes chocolate--holding yoga poses while eating chocolate. And researchers are constantly finding positive attributes to balance the bad reputation chocolate has earned for its sugar, fat and caffeine content--attributes such as dark chocolate contains more potent antioxidants than white or milk chocolate (antioxidants which may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease).
Chock Full of Chocolate has an attractive design, and it is well laid out. It includes a Table of Contents that divides the book into an intro, favourite recipes, batches of desserts (cookies, muffins, squares), party treats, gift ideas as well as quick treats. In the Introduction, readers are coached on basic baking techniques such as measuring wet and dry ingredients, rolling and cutting cookie dough, and melting chocolate and butter. Side bars highlight precautionary notes on handling nut and dairy allergies as well cleaning work surfaces and using thick oven mitts when handling hot items. Adult assistance is encouraged for moving things into and out of the oven.
With more than 45 recipes from which to choose, chocolate fans can make something that is bake-free or nut-free, something that can be prepared in minutes or even seconds. Recipes include classic chocolate treats such as chocolate chip cookies, brownies (with extra chocolate in them! Mmmmm!), fudge, as well as basic chocolate cake with chocolate icing. More extravagant desserts, such as chocolate-sandwich cheesecake, mud pie, polka-dot-pie, mousse, and candy-covered pizza, are also included. And the gift ideas such as s'more gorp, truffles, classic cookie mix and cocoa mix are especially nice. The quick treats (i.e.. almond bark, chocolate sauce, ice cream sandwich) at the book's end are also certain to please. A classic chocolate treat that hasn't been included is the infamous chocolate fondue which is a fun and easy dessert to share as a family or to offer at a party. However, safety concerns may have prevented the inclusion of this dessert. (To be fair, instructions are included for chocolate-dipped strawberries.)
MacLeod's instructions throughout the book are clear and easy-to-follow with all ingredients and required baking tools listed in You Will Need sections. The author has also included side bars listing additional ideas so many of the recipes can be varied or decorated differently for a fancier finish. June Bradford's colourful illustrations are well-placed alongside each recipe's step-by-step instructions, and the finished products look delicious.
With the increased concern regarding obesity, poor eating habits, and inactivity in young Canadians, a note in the Introduction reminding young cooks of the importance of a well-balanced diet as well as eating desserts in moderation would have been a positive step toward educating readers.
Overall, for chocolate lovers and anyone who enjoys baking or whipping up a special treat, Chock Full of Chocolate will be a welcome beginning, or addition, to any cookbook library. Only question is--which tasty recipe to try first?
Cheryl Archer, an Albertan chocolate lover, is the author of Snow Watch.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.