Most of us chose to read the books but not all of us and not every month. We did all have fun and we did try recipes, read books and watch movies that perhaps otherwise we wouldn't have. I am so glad that Cam was given this opportunity by the authors and publisher of the Book Club Cookbook and that she shared that opportunity with us.
The host for each month was also given a free copy of the Cookbook to give away. Our host this month is Sarah of Things I Make (for Dinner). You can find her invitation post here and you can join us or just enter to win a Book Club Cookbook of your very own. In fact, Sarah is giving away 2 copies of the book this month so make sure you get to her site and enter.
Sarah chose the book Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Sarah had seen the movie but had never read the book. I had not read the book nor seen the movie. I decided to do both. I ordered the book up on Kindle and ordered the dvd up from the library.
I liked the book. I didn't love it but I liked it. I liked it well enough that when I found there was a sequel, I ordered it up. I didn't hate the movie but I liked the movie. However, I didn't like it enough that I have any desire to ever watch it again. As is normal, with me, I thought the movie lacked depth and was unable to portray the characters with the same intensity and emotion as the book. That being said, I will review the book, not the movie since this is, after all, a Book Club Cookbook.
The book begins with a young mother and her child arriving in a small town in France. This town is very set in it's ways and not very welcoming to strangers, especially strangers who refuse to obey the rules set upon the town by a very conservative and perhaps mentally ill priest and his followers. It is a story of tolerance vs intolerance, kindness vs coldness and good vs evil. It bothered me some that the evil was portrayed in the person of a priest, not that I am naïve or stupid enough to believe that all priests are good or bad, just like any other profession, but in the same way I don't like for the cop or judge or firefighter to be the bad guy.
I did like the strength, love, kindness and determination shown by Vianne, the protagonist of the novel, and I loved how she brought out the best in the townspeople. I wasn't satisfied with the ending and felt like I was left hanging but perhaps that is what the author wanted since I ordered up the sequel to see what happens next LOL.
Vianne buys an old bakery and proceeds to turn it into a Chocolaterie. Vianne doesn't care that it is the beginning of the Lenten season which causes all the better than thous in the village to take an instant dislike to her. Vianne holds her head high and treats all she meets with compassion and kindness. She befriends other outcasts in the village and welcomes one and all into her shop and her home. Vianne is used to being an outcast having been raised by a gypsy mother who claimed to have magical powers and did her best to pass that magic and mysticism onto Vianne. There were insinuations in the novel that Vianne's mother may have suffered mental illness and perhaps this is why Vianne is so empathetic to others. This, however, is my take. I would be interested in hearing what you think.
Onto the food....CHOCOLATE. Hot chocolate, pain au chocolate, chocolate bunnies and eggs, chocolate coins, chocolate cake, chocolate truffles of every shape, size and description. Chocolate each morning for breakfast, for snacks between meals and for dessert. There was other food as well, seafood, croissants, bread, but mostly there was CHOCOLATE.
One of the chocolates that caught my attention was a White and Black cake that Vianne made shortly after moving into the village. In my minds eye, I saw this as a layer cake with one white cake layer and one chocolate cake layer covered in chocolate. When I punched in White and Black cake, however, I came across this fantastic recipe from The Food Network that I couldn't resist. I am sharing my adaptation with you today. I hope you enjoy it.
You still have plenty of time to read this book and join us. We would love to see what chocolatey goodness the book inspires in you.
I am also sharing this recipe at Foodies Read 2016. Check it out.
slightly adapted from The Food Network
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. 2% milk
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. each, baking powder, baking soda and salt
1 t. vanilla
Combine butter and milk in a sauce pan and heat just until butter is melted. Pour into the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the cocoa and sugar and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes. Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a small bowl. Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the chocolate then add the flour in two portions mixing just until incorporated.
Divide between two 8" cake pans that have been treated with baking spray. Tap the pans on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake in a preheated 325* oven for 35 minutes or until a skewer removes cleanly. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan and allowing to cool completely.
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
3 sticks butter, room temperature
pinch of salt if using unsalted butter
2 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
Shaved dark chocolate for garnish
Place the white chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth. Let cool. Place the butter (and salt if needed) in the large bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate and then gradually add the sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. If the frosting is still too soft to spread, chill for about 15 minutes.
Place one layer of the cake onto a platter, cover with 1/3 of the frosting. Top with the second layer and cover the whole cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with dark chocolate. Print Recipe