Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cookbook of the week #8: Súkkulaði: Það besta frá Nóa-Síríus (Chocolate: The best from Nói-Síríus)

You might be surprised to discover that Icelandic chocolate is considered very good, and is in fact preferred by some over both Swiss and Belgian chocolates (and I am not just talking about Icelanders). The Nói-Síríus candy company came into being with the union of two candy companies, Síríus and Nói, and is probably the biggest candy producer in Iceland. Among the stuff they make is the country's most popular chocolate, Konsúm, which is the basis of many recipes in this delicious book. They also make the most popular packaged confectionery selection and the top selling variety of Easter eggs, in addition to many kinds of non-chocolate candies.

For more than 10 years the company has published a new recipe booklet each year, which has been sold cheaply as a way of promoting the company's products, and this book contains a selection of the best recipes from those booklets, intermingled with new recipes.

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This is a thoroughly modern cook book, equal parts recipes and gorgeous food photography that definietly falls under what some have called "food porn".

The recipes use the following chocolates, which I will try to describe well enough so good substitutes can be found:

Síríus Konsúm dark chocolate, which has a 45% cacao content and a sweet, slightly bitter taste with a hint of vanilla. It is suited for eating, making drinking chocolate, confectionery or baking.

Síríus 56%. This is similar to Konsúm, but with a higher cacao content and less sugar, but only slightly more bitter to the taste.

Síríus 70%. It has 70% cacao content and less than 30% sugar and a rich, bitter chocolate taste.

Síríus rjómasúkkulaði. Smooth milk chocolate with a sweet, rich flavour.

Additionally, a few recipes use other chocolate candies made by Nói-Síríus, such as chocolate-covered liqorice.

There are chapters on confections; cakes; cookies, muffins and bars; oven-pan cakes (including muffins); and desserts.

I will choose one recipe from each chapter as a sample and will try to choose recipes I have neither made or tasted before. Although I have not made many recipes from the book, I have made and/or tasted many of the booklet recipes, and several variations of recipes from the book are part of my kitchen repertoire, such as Sarah Bernhardt cookies and hot chocolate made with Konsúm.

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