Cookbook road test: Cocoa
But debunking food myths and the rest isn’t the only thing that floats her boat. She’s clearly fallen under the spell of one very special ingredient: chocolate.
I put a couple of recipes from her cookbook, Cocoa, to the test. Find out how I got on…
It’s a joy to read a book written by someone who so obviously gets deep pleasure from their chosen topic, especially when that joy is passed on like a gift to the reader – like being handed a slice of rich chocolate cake.
The book cannily combines recipes – mostly sweet but with a few excellent savoury dishes – with information about chocolate’s history, how it’s made, chocolate science and its possible health benefits. Interspersed among the chapters are clear-headed think-pieces on topics such as cocoa in literature, cocoa and the role of women and about the chocolate industry’s dark side, which lays bare the horrors of slavery and child labour that have been its dirty secret for too long.
How good are the recipes?
Choosing just two was tough. I had to try a savoury one, and Mexican-style pork carnitas had my name on it. Inspired by Mexican chef and culinary icon Martha Ortiz’s classic recipe for Mexican mole, Sue’s version is much simplified, the rich, chocolate-infused sauce combined with slow-cooked pork. A specialist shop was required for the three types of dried chilli called for, but the other ingredients were easy enough to find.
Sue’s method for slow-cooking the pork shoulder in a roasting tray, rather than a deep casserole, seemed to reduce the sauce relatively quickly (although the meat needed a bit more than the stated 2½-3 hours to soften fully). My fears that the finished dish would be fiercely hot were unfounded. It was richly, deeply flavoured.
There’s not much not to like about a chocolate, banana and hazelnut galette and the recipe worked well. The pastry, made with lots of butter and ground hazelnuts, was crumbly and tricky to work with (I needed to hand-mould it around the filling, coaxing it gently to prevent cracks) but it baked up golden and tender.
Do the photos draw you in?
Yes. Photos by Yuki Sugiura are understatedly elegant, letting the dishes speak for themselves.
Who’s the book suitable for?
Chocolate lovers, obviously (most of the population then) and anyone who fancies a good read about a fascinating topic.
Verdict? ★ ★ ★ ★