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March 2014

Cook with the Best in the Northwest

Pure Chocolate, by Fran Bigelow
Reviewed by Mary Rose

Cook with the Best in the Northwest archive


It just doesn't get much better than chocolate.

I've had my copy of Pure Chocolate since it was published in 2004. And while I haven't made all the recipes in it, I've used it a lot and can recommend it for a cup of potent hot chocolate (two varieties) and surprisingly easy-to-make madeleines, among other delicacies.


Pure Chocolate, by Fran Bigelow


People in the Seattle area will be familiar with Fran's Chocolates. There are three stores: downtown Seattle, University Village, and Bellevue. If you're not so lucky to be near these, you can order chocolate products online.

I mention the stores because while I love the cookbook, sometimes it's just easier to buy something instead of making it.

For example, I sincerely doubt I will ever make anything in the "Truffles and Other Fine Chocolates" chapter. This section begins with several pages of instructions for tempering chocolate, which right there is a stopping point for me. It might be fun and perhaps instructive to play around with this, but it's also very expensive.

You'll need more than a pound of good-quality semisweet chocolate and a pound of white chocolate—not to mention heavy cream and butter—to make the Black-and-White Pavés. The photo in the book shows lovely layered chocolates just like you'd see in one of the stores, but I am making an educated guess that the final product that would show up in my own kitchen would look far different.

I'll leave fine chocolates and truffles to the experts.

But then there are Truffle Brownies and Pure Chocolate-Chunk Cookies and Princess Pudding. Even I can make these look as good as they taste.


Creamy Princess Pudding takes less than 15 minutes to make.


But my all-time favorite recipe in the book, one I have made countless times, is Chocolate Almond Macaroons. If you've had French macarons, you'll be familiar with these.

You can just make the cookie part—almond paste, almond flour, cocoa, sugar, and egg whites—and be delighted by the chewy-crunchy texture. Or you can spread Dark Chocolate Truffle Filling (very easy to make) between two macaroons and enjoy something that reaches new heights on the taste scale.

And a bonus with this recipe is that you use only half the truffle filling. The other half can be spooned up in exquisite bites as is, or stirred into hot milk for a sumptuous hot chocolate treat.


Chocolate Almond Macaroons


If you are a chocolate lover, Pure Chocolate is a must-have cookbook. Look at the photos, thumb through the recipes, maybe even take up the challenge of Brie White-Chocolate Cheesecake, or Chocolate Profiteroles, or Boule d'Amande.

Meanwhile, enjoy a cup of Fran's fine hot chocolate.

Hot Chocolate
from Pure Chocolate

Hot chocolate as it was meant to be! The hot milk releases the flavor and sensuality of cocoa butter so the experience is like drinking a warm truffle. If you've shopped at my stores, you know that we sell shaved chocolate in canisters for those who are too time crunched in the morning for grating. Everyone deserves their daily chocolate!

Serves 1.

3/4 cup milk
2 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, thinly shaved or grated

In a small saucepan bring the milk to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until completely smooth. It takes about 1 minute for maximum smoothness. Pour into a serving cup and enjoy.


Mary Rose lives high in the mountains of Montana. She enjoys traveling to farmers markets in summer and making snowballs during the long winter. She is happy to find many locally produced foods, including lentils, cheese, and stroopwafels.


Cook with the Best in the Northwest copyright 2014.
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