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Death by Chocolate Cakes:
No doubt about it: chocolate rules. Celebrating this happy fact is Marcel Desaulniers's Death by Chocolate Cakes, another installment in his bestselling Death by Chocolate series. These books bring chocolate sweets to, well, heart-stopping heights. Cake, which contains 50 or so recipes for goodies such as Chocolate Heart of Darkness Cakes (dense chocolate cupcakes with a molten chocolate-truffle center) and Excessively Expressive Espresso Fantasy (chocolate ganache-filled chocolate espresso cake topped with espresso mousse), also includes formulas for chocolate ice creams, drinks, and sauces--all in all a true debauch. Though its recipes are painstakingly written and easy to follow, most require multiple, technically exacting preparations; aside from chocolate voyeurs, they'll be of greatest interest to reasonably skilled bakers with time to spare.
Desaulniers divides his recipes into chapters such as "Baby Cakes," "Mom's Cakes," "Celebration Cakes," and "Sky-High Cakes." This portioning is somewhat arbitrary as the drill is usually a lusciously filled and topped layer cake. Delicious exceptions include My Little Kumquat Cake and Uncle Sam's in the Black Cake. If Desaulniers is given to a jokey cuteness (as evidenced by the above recipe titles), and neglects sometimes to describe his cakes so readers can make informed baking choices, he is careful to provide illuminating tips on equipment and techniques throughout. With 50 mouth-watering color photos, the book should bring great pleasure to all chocolate lovers, on the page and at meal's end. --Arthur Boehm [via]