David Lebovitz has done for chocolate what Bruce Lee did for kung fu – he has demystified a formerly secretive art and made it accessible to the general public. Ok, so I never managed to learn kung fu (take that sad image out of your minds right now), but I have learnt to do clever things with chocolate. And like the Dragon, in Lebovitz’ case, it’s all about technique. His recipes aren’t overly complicated, but their success or failure depends entirely on execution.
A wonderful case in point is the recipe for hot chocolate in his new book The Sweet Life in Paris (which is a great read, despite its mildly-annoying-but-very-French deckle cut finish). It’s a simple recipe; just milk, chocolate and a pinch of salt. However, made correctly, it is creamy, smooth and delicious – we’ve grown quite addicted to it as a restorative tonic and now keep a small bottle in the fridge at all times for emergencies.
Last night, I whipped up a batch of Lebovitz’ dark chocolate biscotti. The original recipe is on his blog and I was planning to reproduce it here, until I realised that I really couldn’t explain the methodology any better than he has. For what it’s worth, I used Callebaut dutch cocoa in mine, which resulted in an extra dark cookie. They’re very grown up, yet oddly reminiscent of the politically incorrect Golliwog biscuits of my childhood – while completely different in shape and form, the flavour jogs something in the recesses of my brain (I think it’s the crispness combined with the cocoa). Some of the biscotti were treated to a coating of tempered chocolate, which made them ridiculously moreish, particularly with a hot cup of tea.
I now own two of Lebovitz’ books – The Sweet Life in Paris and The Great Book of Chocolate. They’re informative, entertaining and occasionally hysterically funny. He also writes a great blog, where it’s easy to while away a couple of hours, particularly if you’re a seasoned virtual traveller like moi. Just be careful, though, or you’ll end up with an expensive chocolate addiction like the rest of us…