Ghirardelli chocolate was originally founded by an Italian immigrant, Domingo Ghirardelli, in San Francisco in 1849. Since then, it’s been bought and sold several times, having survived the Gold Rush, Great Fire of 1851, and two world wars. The cookbook features an informative introduction into the company’s early years, including reproductions of vintage posters. A handy chocolate primer tells how to effectively store chocolate (think: cool, dry place, low humidity), how to garnish pastries with chocolate, candy making, and chocolate substitutions (using only Ghirardelli products, naturally). There’s even a snobby little guide on how to appreciate a good chocolate (much like wine tasting, minus the swishing). Looking to host a choc-tail party? That’s in here too.
Once you hit the cookbook section, recipes are arranged straightforwardly by type, beginning with cookies (chocolate chip, lemon, sugar, shortbread, peanut butter, macaroons, biscotti), chocolate brownies and bars (the peppermint brownies are worth the price of the book; I’ve made them four times, and they just keep getting better!), chocolate cakes, cupcakes, tortes, pies, tarts, candies and bonbons, and chocolate breads and breakfast.
The recipes are easy to follow, although the font is a little small, and the photos are beautiful. One of the problems I ran into was the fact that some recipes called for Ghirardelli products that were not readily available at the first few stores I tried (such as the ground chocolate and cocoa powder, although a substitution is listed in front).
I decided on the Ghirardelli cookbook after looking at several chocolate cookbooks from Scharffen Berger (Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate) and Marcel Desaulniers (Death by Chocolate: The Last Word on a Consuming Passion). The Ghirardelli Chocoalte Cookbook had the highest ratio of recipes that a) appealed to me and b) actually looked doable by an intermediate baker. I was right on both counts, and everything I bake is a smash hit.
My Amazon Affiliate link: The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook: Recipes and History from America’s Premier Chocolate Maker