"The Chocolate Deck," by Lori Longbotham

Pros: Delicious desserts
Cons: Keep misplacing the cards; they get knocked around easily
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Chronicle Books
Visit Lori Longbotham’s website

I honestly thought that having a cookbook prepared as a deck of cards would be really handy. No more propping a cookbook open or finding room to spread a cookbook out in the kitchen. Instead, it turns out that cards have their own issues–for instance, it’s easy to forget where you put one down if you have the least bit of clutter on your tables or counters, and it’s very easy to knock one into, say, a greased pan (*whistles innocently*). Of course if you’re a super-organized person who has the perfect place for everything then you won’t have these problems, and thus a cookbook presented on cards would probably work perfectly for you!

The cards are sturdy and attractive, and thankfully coated so that they wipe off fairly easily. The backs are graced with attractive photographs, usually of the card’s dish. Thanks to the necessarily brief format, you know you’re getting relatively simple recipes that don’t require a ton of page-flipping. Ingredients and instructions are laid out quite well, and are easy to make out in a hurry.

Surprisingly, a four-panel foldout card includes a listing of all recipes with numbers (cards are numbered one through 50) as well as some basic tips and recipes for such things as melting chocolate and making chocolate frosting. Recipes include such delights as individual molten chocolate cakes, chocolate decadence, chocolate gingerbread cake, chocolate panna cotta, chocolate custard ice cream, bittersweet hot chocolate souffle, mocha tiramisu, dark chocolate tart, frozen mocha, chocolate pound cake, and mocha shortbread. We made two different kinds of chocolate mousse from the deck–a whipped cream-based mousse cake and an egg white-based mousse–and both were absolutely divine. The chocolate jelly (a chocolate jello-like dessert) didn’t fare quite as well; it separated into two layers with different textures, and although it tasted quite good, not everyone at dinner was fond of the texture.

To a certain extent the utility of this deck is dependent on your personality and style; if you’re highly organized, I think you’ll find it much more usable than I did and can probably consider the rating to be 5 out of 5. If, like me, you have ADD-induced brain scatter, constantly having to find the small cards while you cook might drive you a tad nuts! Keep this in mind when deciding whether this item is right for you. As for the recipes, however, Lori Longbotham’s “Chocolate Deck” scores a big thumbs-up.

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