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"Death by Chocolate" by Marcel Desaulniers

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I've been wanting this book for awhile, but I thought I'd ask if anyone has had any experiences (good or bad) with these recipes. The desserts look extraordinary, and I'm looking for book with desserts for special occassions.

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I don't have that book, but I have tried several recipes from Desaulnier's Celebrate with Chocolate that turned out not-too-bad. I made the citrus bars with white 'chocolate' icing (very good), domino cakes (decent, not spectacular), and peanut butter and jelly sandwich cookies (something whimsical for the kiddies). The good news is a zillion copies of these books have been sold, so you can pick up a used copy for next to nothing. You can get a used copy of DBC for $8.38 on Amazon, for instance.

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EDIT to fix pics.


Edited by Patrick S (log)

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I own all but one of his books. There was a time that he was VERY influential in my learning. I found working thru his recipes very educational and I still use a several of his recipes (and get raves over them). Every recipe works from him, even those that seem to break all the rules (like adding a liquid to chocolate). I think his mousses, buttercreams, ganaches all stand up to anyone one elses....but, over all his cakes are more average (yet very worth making as a learning tool). Some of his cookies and cakes are just average, but there are a couple really excellent ones too.

I learned from him to stop being a slave to written recipes. He does a lot of combining like putting cheesecake, ganche, cake, frosting all into one torte. That was something I had never seen before his books. His garnishes like from his voodoo cake are really fun and good to know.

So yes, I highly recommend his book and his work.

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I bought it and returned it because I didn't think it really had enough that was different to merit keeping it. There was nothing wrong with it but I have the Herme book and felt it didn't really compare. Not that I don't have room for both but it didn't have anything to compel me to it.

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I have all three as well and as an amateur, have enjoyed preparing most of the cake recipes in the book at one time or another.

My favorites include the 'Old Fashioned' Layer Cake and all the cakes in the Dementia section. My personal fav is toss up betwen the Chocolate Espresso Fudge Cake, being the ultimate expression of a huge, overtly chocolate cake and the Death By Chocolate because of the contrast of the Meringue center. I really like both of those cakes.

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well considering I have grown up in a town right next to the trellis, have had many colleagues work there, One of my Fathers best friends/clients is a very good friend of marcel and I as a young shild of maybe 12-13 longed to work for him have this to say.....

It's a waste of 50bucks for a more progressive learner.

I would rather spend that 50 for a book by Moriarty/Richard Leech/ or Herme'.

At the Trellis (which is nice) they are extremely traditonal aka old-fashioned. So therefore all of his books have simple cakes and desserts. You could just as easily take a week apprenticeship at a fairly decent restaurant and learn more.

If you have a question for a recipe of his just look it up or ask someone, but for the most part I wouldn't do it.

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You can't compare Desaulniers to Herme'! And you can't put Leach or Moriarty in his league either.

The value of any book depends upon your level of knowledge on the topic.

Do all of the authors mentioned have merit/value as a learning tool, yes! You can work out of Herme's professional book and Pillsbury or Betty Crocker too. Todays knowledge has been buildt on yesterdays knowledge.

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I agree with Chianti on this one - for a more progressive learner he's not the book for you. I don't take that to mean that for someone else he won't be fine but I had exactly the same reaction to the book since my needs have progressed past that level of baking. The same basic recipes exist in other places and I didn't find anything really new. Damn fine chocolate cake, though!

I don't want to compare the two but, for me, the Herme book is better for moving forward and learning new skills and how to put different elements together.

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Wendy or Carolyn, have either or you ever prepared Marcel's Ms. D's 'She Ain't Heavy' Chocolate Cake? I ask because I'm still looking for that perfect 'traditional' chocolate cake (i.e. an iced layer cake made with flour), and Marcel so modestly describes it in his book (I'm paraphrasing) as the most delicious chocolate cake imaginable. This recipe has more butter (3/4 and 5/4lb in the cake and icing, respectively) than any similar cake I've made.

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I agree with both chiantiglace and josette in the sense that these books are not the ones to appeal to your subtlest sensibilities or surprise you with novel combinations. But Marcel's stuff is not at all about subtlety or novelty -- its about unsubtle chocolate overload. If this appeals to you (as it does to me sometimes, but not to other people), I say go ahead and get a used copy. Its really all about what you want.

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None of his cakes satisfy my search for the perfect cake. They are all decent, but average, I'd put his cakes on level with RLB.

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Thanks for the replies, and thanks for the pictures, Patrick. I think I might pick up the Herme book instead. The pictures in that thread look great!

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Wendy, do you still like the SCW chocolate cake best?

I've been thinking of switching over to a chocolate genoise and using a chocolate syrup (I like the one in the Bakers Dozen Book).

If you had asked which one was a better purchase, the Desaulniers or Herme'...........everyone would tell you the Herme' work definately.

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