Island Baker One of Top Ten in North America

ISLE AU HAUT — Kate Shaffer is a dangerous woman.

An accomplished chef and baker, Shaffer is the Isle au Haut chocolatier who crafts the sublime Black Dinah chocolates that defy even the most rigorous dieter to resist them.

Recently named as one of the Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America by Dessert Professional magazine, Shaffer has now written “Desserted: Recipes and Tales from an Island Chocolatier” (Down East Books, 2011, 128 pages, $29.95). In this delightful book she both shares her secrets for making delicious confections and creates lapidary portraits of life in the tiny island community where she and her husband/business partner Steve live.

Shaffer’s first cookbook is also filled with mouthwatering photographs (by Stacey Cramp) of chocolate truffles and luscious baked desserts (not to mention Isle au Haut.) What makes her so dangerous is that the book’s detailed recipes provide all the information a reasonably skilled cook needs to produce those treats at home — the precursor to the irresistible urge to take “just one more bite.”

A useful cookbook should be well organized and make it easy for cooks to find information on ingredients and relevant techniques as well recipes. “Desserted” scores high in that area, with logical organization that begins with an introduction to Shaffer and her life on Isle au Haut and continues with chapters that address: chocolate in its many forms and how to work with it (including a lucid description of the tempering process); making truffles; “Chocolate for Breakfast,” “Tarts, Pies and Cakes; savory dishes; and several other topics. The index makes it easy to find specific recipes.

Some of those recipes will test even the experienced cook, but the instructions and ingredient lists are clear and complete, and the results worth the effort.

Working with chocolate is not for everyone. As with serious baking, the process requires precision and patience.

But for the cook who has those qualities, “Desserted” will help them achieve some serious “Oh my!” moments.

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Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]