The secret of the uniquely, irresistibly seductive quality of chocolate, according to Sara Jayne-Stanes, is that it is the only substance to melt at blood temperature, "gently exploding into a warm, sensual liquid, filling your mouth with an incomparable, hedonistic feeling that you just want to go on and on ..." I think we get the picture.
Another, complementary, view of its attraction is indicated by the scientific name accorded it by Linnaeus: Theobroma, food of the gods. Chocolate:The Definitive Guide is a loving homage to this extraordinary substance by one of Britain's finest professional chocolate makers.
It's difficult to convey the riches of this marvellous book. Sara Jayne-Stanes begins by outlining the history of chocolate, from its prehistoric Mesoamerican origins to its current paradoxical status as both bland, trashy global comfort food and expensive luxury commodity. The latter of course is her preoccupation. Chocolate, it seems, is as susceptible as wine to climate and terroir.
Utterly thorough instructions on the preparation of chocolate for any and all types of cooking are followed here by a series of recipes that will have chocoholics on their knees. From sauces, petits fours, cakes and gateaux, through puddings, ices and mousses, there is nothing that isn't rich, exciting and fulfilling.