Seriously Bitter Sweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker’s Guide to Chocolate by Alice Medrich

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Dana Velden)

Alice Medrich knows how to write cookbooks, seriously well-crafted and methodically tested cookbooks, that are also beautiful and accessible to the home cook. (Pure Dessert is one of my favorites.) So I was thrilled to discover that her 2003 classic Bittersweet has been reissued with updated information and recipes to reflect the many wonderful and important changes that have taken place in the world of chocolate over the past 10 years. Read on for a peek inside:

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Quick Facts

Who wrote it: Alice Medrich

Who published it: Artisan

Number of recipes: 150

Recipes for right now: Chocolate Pecan Pie; Bittersweet Hot Fudge Sauce; Rich Hot Chocolate; Classic Ganache Truffles; Chestnut Torte; New Classic Chocolate Brownies (always!)

Other highlights: When Alice Medrich’s cookbook Bittersweet was released in 2003, chocolate in America was on the verge of a seismic shift. The change was coming, but it hadn’t taken hold yet. Alice knew that terms like ‘bittersweet’ and ‘semisweet’ had no standardization and that the percentage of chocolate was a more accurate way to determine what kind of chocolate should be used in a given recipe. But manufacturers were persisting with the vague labels and she had to write and develop her book accordingly, all the while lobbying hard for the percentage labeling.

Fast forward to today. Alice’s persistence has paid off and thankfully we now have an avalanche of delicious new chocolate to choose from, with the cacao to sugar percentage clearly labeled and much of the unnecessary extras and conditioners removed. Time for a new, updated version of Bittersweet, appropriately renamed Seriously Bitter Sweet, with current information and recipes reworked to reflect these new chocolate offerings.

Seriously Bitter Sweet is divided into eight chapters. After a very readable and comprehensive introduction, Alice covers the basics and gives a thorough lesson in chocolate, equipment needs, and additional ingredients with a 25 page Before You Start section. Additional chapters include Growing Up with Chocolate (ice cream and brownies), The Queen of Sheba (tortes and variations), Chocolat (truffles and mousses), Less is More (soufflés and meringues), Glitz and Glamour (grand cakes, fillings, and Glazes) Home Baking (cakes, pies, and cookies) and finally Sweet and Savory (cooking with nibs and savory applications for chocolate).

The book is a heavy, oversized paperback with a sturdy cover. It stays flat when opened and has a nice, sewn binding. There are beautiful full color photographs from Deborah Jones throughout as well as a glossary, source listing and index.

This book is Alice’s story as well as a cookbook. She shares her journey from that first taste of her landlady’s bittersweet chocolate truffle in Paris in 1973 to the opening of her chocolate shop in Berkeley in 1976 and on to her career in writing cookbooks, many of which have won Cookbook of the Year awards. She is a friendly but authoritative companion on your chocolate journey!

Who would enjoy this book? If you love chocolate, if you love to work with chocolate and cook with chocolate, then this book is a must. If you are interested in learning more about chocolate and appreciate clear, concise and reliable information, then this book is a must. Even if you just want to bake a pan of brownies, this book is a must!

Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Seriously Bitter Sweet by Alice Medrich

Visit the author’s website: Alice Medrich

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.