Marcel Desaulniers is coming to the Baltimore Book Festival intent on making folks eat his words.
The author of the decadently delightful "Death by Chocolate" and "Death by Chocolate Cookies" is using his appearance at the festival to debut his latest mouthwatering manuscript, "Death by Chocolate Cakes: An Astonishing Array of Chocolate Enchantments" (William Morrow, 2000, $35). The cookbook is one of several that will take center stage at the fifth annual event, which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Mount Vernon Place.
From Jewish recipes to African-American soul food and flavorful herb dishes, the Baltimore Book Festival will offer a wide range of books, and authors, for the cooking crowd. Officials say the festivities have grown steadily over the past five years - attributed in part to the culinary demonstrations and cookbook signings that have become as essential an ingredient to the event as the poetry readings and author meet-and-greets.
"We have publishers and authors calling us, wanting to participate," said Bill Gilmore, executive director of the Baltimore Office of Promotion. "We built a movable kitchen so we can wheel it in and out of storage, and during the festival we put a big tent over it for the cooking demonstrations."
Desaulniers said he holds no illusions about why fans turn out for his appearances.
"I think it's the chocolate they are excited to see," Desaulniers said, laughing. "I always bring chocolate with me."
With creations such as Chocolate Heart of Darkness Cakes and Mocha Mud Cake With Espresso Chocolate Chunk Mud Slide, Desaulniers is set to tantalize even the staunchest of dieters. The executive chef and co-owner of Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Pa., Desaulniers said he has fond memories of the book festival from his last appearance there in 1997 to promote his book "Desserts to Die For" (Simon & Schuster, 1995, $ 30).
"It really is an excellent venue," said Desaulniers, whose latest cookbook has a photo accompanying each recipe. "There's always a really good book signing and people are really interested. It's fun."
Desaulniers, a self-professed chocoholic who admits to serving chocolate for breakfast, said he and his assistants brainstormed chapter titles and recipes.
"Our mantra is to push the envelope on taste, texture and decadence," he said. "It's kind of a no-holds-barred approach to confections." The popularity of cookbooks dates from the festival's beginning, when chef and Food Network superstar Emeril Lagasse appeared the first year. Like most new events, the festival was looking to establish itself, and, Gilmore said, Lagasse's presence attracted a great deal of attention.
"We just had no idea the reaction we would get and what it would mean to have Emeril," Gilmore said. "It created a frenzy. You would have thought the Rolling Stones were there."
And interestingly enough, Gilmore said, television had helped stimulate the sale of cookbooks and helped to generate excitement at events like the book festival."
[Television] has been a big boon to the publishing industry," Gilmore said. "It has exposed these different chefs and authors to a larger audience."
Gilmore said that now authors and publishers realize that they can sell a lot of books at the festival in addition to meeting their adoring fans.
"When we first started this we were afraid to promise this as a big-cash bonanza," he said. But, he added, "A lot of these smaller book authors are running back to refill their stock because they are selling so much."
This year, the festival offers a wide array of appearances on the Food for Thought Stage - one of several theme stages, including the Home & Garden Stage, the Sibanye Stage and the Children's Stage -which is being sponsored this year by Bibelot.
In addition to Desaulniers and his sinful creations, noted food luminaries include "the queen of soul food," Sylvia Woods, author of "Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook: From Hemingway, South Carolina, to Harlem"(William Morrow, 1999, $25) and founder of Sylvia's restaurant; and former Gourmet magazine food editor Leslie Glover Pendleton, author of "Simply Shrimp, Salmon, and (Fish) Steaks: Easy, Delicious, and Healthful Ways to Enjoy Your Favorite Seafood Plus Side Dishes to Make a Meal" (Harper Collins, 2000, $24).
Joyce White, author of "Soul Food: Recipes and Reflections From African-American Churches" (Harper Collins, 1998, $25), said she was drawn to the festival for its location. Baltimore, with its deep roots in the black church, could fully appreciate her book, which evokes memories of church dinners and Southern picnics with dishes like sugar-crusted biscuits and chicken and dumplings.
"When I first started working on this book, there were other soul-food books but there were no books of soul," White said. "My book really captures the history and the spirit of the church."
Happy All the Time Cakes
Makes 12 muffins
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -ounce pieces, plus 2 teaspoons (melted)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) tightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/2 -ounce pieces
1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/4 cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped (divided use)
1 1/4 cups walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped (divided use) CHOCOLATE-HONEY- BOURBON GLAZE:
6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup bourbon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons clover honey
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat the inside of each of 12 individual nonstick muffin cups (3 inches in diameter) using the 2 teaspoons of melted butter. Set aside until needed.
In a sifter combine 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sift onto a large piece of parchment paper (or wax paper) and set aside until needed.
Place 3/4 cup light brown sugar and 1/4 pound butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on low speed for 1 minute; then beat on medium for 2 minutes until soft.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Beat on medium for an additional 2 minutes until very soft. Add 1 egg and beat on medium for 30 seconds to incorporate.
Add the egg white and beat on medium for 30 seconds to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle. Now beat on medium-high for 1 minute until slightly fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Operate the mixer on low while gradually adding the sifted dry ingredients; mix until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add 2 ounces cream cheese and beat on medium for 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup bourbon and mix on low speed for 15 seconds.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans and 1/2 cup of the chopped walnuts (reserving the remaining nuts to decorate the cakes); then use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Portion 1/4 cup of the cake batter into each muffin cup.
Place the muffin tin on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 21 to 22 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Invert the pan to release the cakes. (They should pop right out.)
Place the cakes, baked tops down and evenly spaced, onto a cooling rack set on a baking sheet with sides. Refrigerate the cakes while preparing the glaze.
Place 6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate and 2 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl.
Heat 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup bourbon, 3 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, stir to dissolve the honey. Bring to a boil. Pour the boiling cream mixture over the chopped chocolate. Set aside for 5 minutes, and then stir with a whisk until smooth.
Remove the cakes from the refrigerator. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of glaze over each cake, allowing the flowing glaze to coat the top and sides of the cake.
Before returning the glazed cakes to the refrigerator, scrape the glaze from the baking sheet and return it to the same medium bowl, stirring gently until smooth. Set aside. Refrigerate the cakes for 2 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of glaze over each cake, once again allowing the glaze to flow over the top and sides of the cake.
Refrigerate the cakes for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator. Press an equal amount of the remaining chopped walnuts and pecans into the sides of each cake, coating evenly. Refrigerate for 10 minutes before serving.- Marcel Desaulniers, "Death by Chocolate Cakes"
Food for Thought
Appearing on the Food for Thought Stage:
6 p.m.-9 p.m. - An Evening With David Rosengarten, author of "Taste" and "Dean and DeLuca Cookbook"
11 a.m. - Tina James, author of "Cooking With Herbs"
noon - Jesse Ziff Cool, author of "Your Organic Kitchen"
1 p.m. - Sylvia Woods, author of "Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook: From Hemingway, South Carolina, to Harlem"
2 p.m. - David Ruggerio, author of "David Ruggerio's Italian Kitchen: Family Recipes From the Old Country"
3 p.m. - Maya Kaimal, author of "Savoring the Spice Coast of India"
4 p.m. - Faye Levy, author of "1,000 Jewish Recipes"
5 p.m. - Wayne Brachman, author of "Retro Desserts: Totally Hip, Updated Classic Desserts From the '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s"
6 p.m. - Louis Lanza, author of "Totally Dairy-Free Cooking"
11 a.m. - Conrad Bladey, author of "Conrad Bladey's Irish Teatime Companion"
noon - Feasty Boys, authors of the "Feasty Cookbook"
1 p.m. - Marcel Desaulniers, author of "Death by Chocolate Cakes: An Astonishing Array of Chocolate Enchantments"
2 p.m. - Joyce White, author of "Soul Food: Recipes and Reflections From African-American Churches"
3 p.m. - Margie and Ron Kauff- man, authors of "If You Love Crab: Best Loved Recipes & Menus From Chesapeake Bay Gourmet"
4 p.m. - Leslie Glover Pendleton, author of "Simply Shrimp, Salmon, and (Fish) Steaks: Easy, Delicious, and Healthful Ways to Enjoy Your Favorite Seafood Plus Side Dishes to Make a Meal"
5 p.m. - Neil Beller and Gregory Hoffman, authors of "Cooking Without a Conscience"