Chocolate enthusiasts take pride in displaying their chocolate book shelves and there are more and more titles to fill those spaces. I don’t wish to repeat the many useful blog posts listing books on chocolate; instead I have recommended the books I have used the most in my own chocolate journey or that have influenced my thinking about chocolate and its place the world. These books create a structure for learning, taking in the past, present and future of chocolate, looking at how we can work with it, cook with it and take a more mindful approach to consuming it.
Chocolate: Indulge your Inner Chocoholic by Dom Ramsey
This book by Dom Ramsey: writer, chocolate consultant and crucially a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, wasn’t published when I started my chocolate journey. If it had been, it would have answered so many of my early questions. It brings the chocolate curriculum to life with the passion of a chocolate maker exploring their craft. The accessible and engaging format make it an essential chocolate education tool. I particularly like the origin maps and the visual journey of cacao through the centuries. This book is very rarely on my book shelf as I am always using it!
The New Taste of Chocolate (Revised) by Maricel Presilla
Maricel Presilla is a culinary historian, author, chef, co-founder and Americas Director of the IICCT and International Chocolate Awards.
Recommended to me while studying the IICCT Level 1 course, The New Taste of Chocolate introduced me to the cultural subtleties and complexities of the “strange and wonderful fruit” that is cacao. Dom’s book answers many questions, but this book is a baptism into the craft chocolate fraternity, giving you the cultural and historical context needed to appreciate the development of the fine chocolate industry. I struggled to photograph this book as it meant adjusting my numerous and carefully positioned pink post-it notes!
If you are serious about becoming a fine chocolate devotee, you will find yourself returning to this book again and again.
The True History of Chocolate by Sophie and Michael D. Coe
I cannot introduce this book without first telling you about its authors. The first thing you read when you open this book is that Sophie D. Coe died before this book was written. Her husband Michael continued her work by working through the thousands of pages of meticulously researched notes and writing a book that he hopes has preserved Sophie’s wit and spirit through its pages. I appreciated these pages all the more for knowing that.
This book is what the title says: the true history of chocolate, correcting misconceptions and myths. Sophie and Michael D. Coe combine their knowledge of anthropology and food history with their specialisms in ancient Mesoamerica and the book looks in detail at the origins of chocolate, and the Olmec civilisation (1500-400 BC), way before the European encounters with Aztecs. At the same time, it challenges with authority, the fantastical musings of some of the more popular works on chocolate. You know you are in expert hands reading this.
Cacao Source by : Alain d’Aboville in collaboration with Cherrie Lo
Written by Alain d’Aboville in association with Cherrie Lo, both chocolate enthusiasts, ambassadors and experienced campaigners for a new chocolate landscape. Through this book, Alain shows us the character and structure of our present-day industry, putting the ‘Chocolate Players’ in the spotlight. Farmers, traders and makers are given a voice here. They communicate the passion, knowledge and dedication needed to create a more sustainable chocolate industry. They remind us of the power of individuals to challenge the status quo and break down some of the more exploitative trading relationships developed over past centuries.
Deep Tasting by R. M. Peluso
My recommendations tend to explore personal journeys and this one is no exception. Reverend Dr R. M. Peluso is the fascinating author and protagonist of this enchanting book. Interfaith minister, reviewer for C-Spot and bean to bonbon maker, Rev. Peluso has practised meditation for well over four decades. Through this book, she tells you how to maximise your appreciation and enjoyment of fine chocolate’s sensory potential. Describing chocolate as a ‘demanding and humbling guru’, Rev. Peluso takes you on a journey of spiritual practice with motivating words and practical instructions. Chocolate tasting is essentially a mindful experience, but this book shows you how to take it to the next level and make it part of your meditative practice.
An New Way of Cooking with Chocolate by Hotel Chocolat
You will find chocolate recipes in many of the books on my bookshelf. Maricel’s The New Taste of Chocolate in particular features a collection of superb sweet and savoury recipes from renowned pastry chefs and chocolatiers. Maricel’s recipes bring the culture of chocolate to your table. The photography is breath-taking too. This book by Hotel Chocolat is very different in that it puts chocolate into culinary practices we are more familiar with in the UK: – breakfasts, starters, meat, fish, vegetables, salads, desserts, snacks, hot drinks and cocktails. Even our traditional onion gravy is transformed with the inclusion of cocoa beer-braised onions. For me, this book has inspired a sense of play and a confidence to experiment with chocolate in my cooking.
Chocolate: Indulge your Inner Chocoholic by Dom Ramsey
I came upon this book while pondering pairings for a chocolate book club read, Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom. Then I discovered the link between the two books. Meaningful Work tells you how founder and CEO of the award-winning craft chocolate factory discovered the secret of purposeful work and business. In the first couple of chapters, we see how influential Mitch Albom’s book was on the Shawn’s own journey. Tuesdays teaches you the benefits of finding your life’s purpose and connecting with people in your community and Meaningful Work goes on to show you how to do it.
I learnt many things from this book but Chapter 3 looking at how much is enough, was particularly enlightening for me and has been part of the inspiration for me following my own path in chocolate.
Chocolate Journalist (15): https://www.thechocolatejournalist.com/blog/books-chocolate-lovers
Cacao Magazine (20): https://readcacao.com/blog/20-recommended-books-on-cacao-and-chocolate/