Chocolatier's New Book Hits Stands Just in Time for Holidays

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Who knew chocolate had so many health and beauty benefits?

It's also a good occasion to share my favorite recipes for the holiday season when fine, handmade chocolate makes an affordable gift of luxury.

Susie Norris, TV producer turned pastry chef and chocolate boutique owner, has written her first cookbook, "Chocolate Bliss: Sensuous recipes, Spa Treatments, and Other Divine Indulgences." The book, scheduled to ship to bookstores on Oct. 20, explores in luscious detail how chocolate nourishes the body, mind and soul. It delves into types and flavors, health and beauty benefits, origins, baking secrets, ecological influences, gifting ideas and offers must-have recipes such as Fudgey Hearts of Darkness, Artisan Caramel Bon Bons and Blueberry Cocoa Nib Crumble.

Norris tapped years of expertise to write her new book - she's been associate chef/instructor of Le Cordon Bleu Program at the California School of Culinary Arts and has studied at prestigious institutions like Barry-Callebaut's Chocolate Academy.

"I wanted to offer my enthusiasm for chocolate and teach the surprising ways that chocolate benefits health and happiness," Norris says. "It's also a good occasion to share my favorite recipes for the holiday season when fine, handmade chocolate makes an affordable gift of luxury."

"Chocolate Bliss," published by Random House/Celestial Arts, features 24 stylish color photos and 38 recipes grouped by desserts that generate health benefits and those that please the senses. The book celebrates chocolate for the skin with cocoa butter recipes including Chocolate Soap and Salty Chocolate Body Scrub. It also examines how chocolate farming protects the environment from rain forest degradation and how many ancient cultures knew the value of great chocolate, with recipes to accentuate chocolate's origins and spiritual nature.

Norris has successfully run an online artisan chocolate company, Happy Chocolates, since 2001. It specializes in handmade confections and has been featured on Food Network and in More Magazine. "I named my chocolate business Happy Chocolates for the pure pleasure chocolate brings," Norris says. "Now, science, health and ecological reports give us more reasons than ever to adore chocolate."

She explains, for instance, a one-ounce piece of very dark chocolate consumed every day provides vitamins (particularly vitamins A, D and K), minerals (particularly magnesium, potassium and iron), a little protein and flavanols. Chocolate also provides a three-way benefit for the heart: (1) flavanols keep the blood flowing smoothly in and out of the heart and have antioxidant capacity; (2) stearic acid helps counteract clumpy deposits of bad cholesterol that can pile up in the veins; and (3) chocolate creates pleasure, indeed love and joy, and nourishes the spiritual side of the heart.

"As we've known long before food science came along, chocolate of any kind is very good for the spirit," Norris says. "I've eaten chocolate every day for 30 years."

Prior to working in the food business, Norris was vice president of Series Television at Disney and held similar positions at Nickelodeon, cbs, nbc and Turner Network Television.

For more information on "Chocolate Bliss," visit http://www.chocolateblissbook.com. The book will be sold at Borders, Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.com, among other stores.

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