I recently took delivery of the latest title to proudly sit on my chocolate book shelf. I now have myself a small-yet-broad chocolate library. My collection ranges from recipe and history books to scientific and ethics books. I sourced most of them from second hand book sellers, giving these pre-loved books a new lease of life.
The titles in my collection from left to right are:
- Pierre Marcolini's Chocolat: From the Cocoa Bean to the Chocolate Bar in hardback (ISBN 0847859282; 384 pages; Amazon°).
- Hotel Chocolat: A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate in hardback (ISBN 147222454X; 256 pages; Amazon°).
- Dominique Persoone's Cacao in hardback (ISBN 2875100068; 256 pages; Amazon°) - a signed edition (albeit to someone else).
- Steven T. Beckett's The Science of Chocolate in paperback (ISBN 1788012356; 272 pages; Amazon°).
- Dom Ramsey's Chocolate: Indulge Your Inner Chocoholic in hardback (ISBN 024122943X; 224 pages; Amazon°).
- Paul A. Young's Adventures with Chocolate: 80 Sensational Recipes in paperback (ISBN 085783083X; 144 pages; Amazon°).
- Andrew Baker's From Bean To Bar: A Chocolate Lover's Guide to Britain in hardback (ISBN 0749581832; 272 pages; Amazon°).
- Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus in hardback (ISBN 0747599777; 400 pages; Amazon°).
- Kristy Leissle's Cocoa in paperback (ISBN 1509513175; 240 pages; Amazon°).
Pierre Marcolini's book is awash with drool-worthy photos and recipes galore, as is Paul A. Young's title and Hotel Chocolat's self-titled book. Dominique Persoone's book explores the world of cocoa and features a selection of recipes, as does Dom Ramsey's book. Steven T. Beckett's book, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, explores the molecular make-up of chocolate. Niki Segnit's flavour bible is great for finding curious and interesting foodie combinations, while Andrew Baker's book is great for finding craft chocolate makers in the UK. Kristy Leissle's body of work is a sobering look at how our insatiable love of chocolate - and big business - impacts the lives and livelihoods of the farmers that grow the vital cocoa crop.
As it stands, my shelf is half full (or half empty depending on your perspective) - although that might not be the case for long. That's because I shared a photo of my chocolate library on social media and received loads of great suggestions on what books to read next. Here's what you recommended I buy next.
In this article:
- Husk & Bean: Chocolate, Infusions & Magic
- The True History of Chocolate
- Making Chocolate: From Bean to Bar to S'More
- Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers
- Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa
- Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World
- Couture Chocolate: A Masterclass in Chocolate
- Cocoa: An Exploration of Chocolate, with Recipes
- Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa
1 Husk & Bean: Chocolate, Infusions & Magic
Daniel Jones | Paperback | ISBN 979-8640737004 | 183 pages
Middletown Hill, importers of Marou single-origin Vietnamese chocolate, recommended Husk & Bean.
Last year, artisan chocolatier and pâtissier Daniel Jones launched his Husk & Bean recipe book, complete with a look at the chocolate making process.
Recipes span a large cross-section of sweet and savoury cooking, with the inclusion of a few curious recipes featuring chocolate. Some recipes use chocolate in an unorthodox manner, such as including scratch-made chocolate spread in a chicken, bacon and blue cheese sandwich.
Husk & Bean: Chocolate, Infusions & Magic
2 The True History of Chocolate
Sophie D. Coe & Michael D. Coe | Paperback | ISBN 0500290687 | 280 pages
Author Niki Segnit recommended a flick through Sophie and Michael D. Coe's The True History of Chocolate.
The book, now in its third edition, unsurprisingly examines the history of chocolate from 3000BC right through to today. While some readers might find it dry in places, this in-depth book details academic research into the fascinating origins of cacao, tracing its morphing into the sweet treat we know today. Expect fact upon fact upon fact.
The True History of Chocolate
3 Making Chocolate: From Bean to Bar to S'More
Todd Masonis, Greg D'Alesandre, Lisa Vega & Molly Gore | Hardback | ISBN 0451495357 | 304 pages
Todd Masonis founded San Francisco's small-batch, bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker, Dandelion Chocolate. In this book, he explores the process of making chocolate, from start to finish, with plentiful references to Dandelion's experience along the way.
There's a small recipes section at the end of this book, but you're buying it more for the insight that Todd, Greg, Lisa and Molly share into creating a values-based chocolate business.
Making Chocolate: From Bean to Bar to S'More
4 Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers
Deborah Cadbury | Paperback | ISBN 9781610390514| 384 pages
If I asked you to name a huge British chocolate brand, I bet Cadbury would be high up there in your first few suggestions. Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury (great-great-great-granddaughter of John Cadbury), as recommended by Foodstuff Finds, charts the 150 year rivalry between some of the best-known chocolate brands in the world, including Cadbury, Nestlé and Mars.
While other books examine the origins of cacao, this well-researched book charts the modern history of the last 150 years, beginning with Quaker capitalism and concluding with the multinational conglomerates that dominate the global market for commercial chocolate.
Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers
5 Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa
Órla Ryan | Paperback | ISBN 1780323093 | 192 pages
This insightful - and in places, harrowing - book peels back the veil of romanticism surrounding chocolate and delves into the darker side of cocoa farming in Africa. It reveals the economic impact our love for cheap chocolate has upon West African smallholders and their children, and documents how just a tiny fraction of chocolate's purchase price ends up in the hands of the farmers.
Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa
6 Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World
Marcy Norton | Paperback | ISBN 0801476321 | 352 pages
Another recommendation by chocolate scholar Dr. Kristy Leissle is this insightful investigation by Marcy Norton into the Spanish Empire, with a specific focus on the roles that tobacco and chocolate played in a developing society.
This book charts the introduction of these substances into Europe and examines the reasons why these commodities became so important in shaping the modern world.
Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World
7 Couture Chocolate: A Masterclass in Chocolate
William Curley | Hardback | ISBN 1906417598 | 224 pages
While there's a concise section that covers the origins of chocolate, this book really is all about the recipes and culinary techniques used to create edible masterpieces. I dare you to flick through the pages in this book without drooling at the sumptuous photographs!
Fancy more reading? William Curley has also authored Nostalgic Delights: Classic Confections & Timeless Treats° and Patisserie: A Masterclass in Classic and Contemporary Patisserie°, together with Suzue Curley.
Couture Chocolate: A Masterclass in Chocolate
8 Cocoa: An Exploration of Chocolate, with Recipes
Sue Quinn | Paperback | ISBN 1787132609 | 256 pages
With recommendations from Tufty McTavish and Online Independent Chocolate Market, Sue Quinn's book straddles the fine line between history and recipe book, with a healthy dose of both areas, delivered in one body of literary work.
Inside, there's a detailed history of the role of cocoa throughout the ages, boasting facts galore. On top of this, 80 chocolate recipes are woven into the book, spanning items from cakes and puddings to savoury applications and condiments.
Cocoa: An Exploration of Chocolate, with Recipes
9 Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa
Catherine Higgs | Hardback | ISBN 0821420062 | 236 pages
Professor of Food Science at Penn State, John Coupland, recommended a read of Chocolate Islands. The author traces the journey of Englishman Joseph Burtt to the Portuguese colony of São Tomé and Príncipe (known as 'the chocolate islands') through Angola and Mozambique, to British Southern Africa.
The book investigates the British and Portuguese attitudes toward work, slavery, race, and imperialism, drawing on collections in the UK, Portugal, and Africa.
Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa
Have you read any of these books? Which would you recommend? Are there any I've missed? Let me know in the comments below.