Alice Medrich. Photo: Dave Lauridsen
If you’ve eaten or made an American style chocolate truffle—known for a soft center and slightly lumpy form compared to French truffles--you have a local Bay Area chocolate expert to thank. North Berkeley resident and Alice Medrich said of this early culinary start:
“My career started with a hand-written recipe for the tiny cocoa-dusted chocolate truffles given to me by my Paris landlady in 1973. I went on to make and sell those pure bittersweet truffles at the Pig by the Tail Charcuterie (a distant fond memory now) across the street from Chez Panisse in Berkeley in l973.”
She opened her dessert shop Cocolat in 1976 and became famous for her baking and pastry work and chocolate truffles. Her sweet professional career has included national media coverage, James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals award-winning cookbooks, and a chain of Cocolat stores. She sold her interest in Cocolat in 1989.
The First Lady of Chocolate has an upcoming book called Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan Books), which should hit the bookshelves in May 2012. Medrich told Bay Area Bites that she is launching a series of dessert classes on Craftsy.com later this spring. Medrich is featured in Growing a Business, Paul Hawkens's book and TV series profiling successful entrepreneurs, and has appeared on the Food Network’s Chef Du Jour and Bakers’ Dozen, the Julia Child PBS series Baking with Julia, and Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America. Medrich trained at the prestigious Êcole Lenôtre in France, and is the author of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies, Pure Dessert, Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate, and Chocolate Holidays.
What is the premise of your upcoming book "Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts"?
Well, uh, sinfully easy! The subtitle is "Quicker Smarter Recipes" if that helps. I've streamlined steps to make some classic faves easier to make without loss of quality, included some amazing cakes that are mixed in the food processor, and demystified a few things (like souffles) that people think are scary and hard, but are really quite simple. Everyone needs a sinfully easy repertoire of impressive desserts that take less time, fuss, and equipment than people think.