Pure pleasure: Chocolate

You all know the phrase “how many pairs of shoes can a girl have?” – well, with me it is “how many chocolate cake recipes can a girl have?”

I seem to have collected a rather large number over the years. And they are really all quite different, from the quick mix quick cook gooey cake (best eaten quickly out of the oven too), to the more elaborate whisked egg batter which needs more precision and time, but still giving you a wonderful “mmm” that only comes with chocolate cake. My husband finds our chocolate brownies with chocolate ganache icing too rich, but my girls and I are just pleased to have one less person to share them with!

The latest recipe I came across actually tastes better when eaten the next day, ideal when you want to prepare ahead for a party, and really easy to make! Dress it up with shaved squirls of dark Belgian chocolate or leave it plain for an afternoon tea. Kid it up with chocolate buttons or smarties, but you can be sure that the cake will still be the true winner.

variations

And as Audrey Hepburn said “Lets face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me”.

According to Dr Barry Smith, Director for the Centre of the Senses at Birbeck University of London, it is the combination of the smoothness and creaminess of chocolate in the mouth, the sweetness of the taste and the smell of it before it even hits the taste buds that make it a hugely pleasurable experience. And this contrasts with other foods, for example cheese might smell stinky but tastes great, coffee smells great when brewed but doesn’t taste the same when you drink it and that is disappointing. But with chocolate the pleasure of anticipation and the reward in eating it match up! The taste and the aroma are the same. Both men and women can experience the pleasure of chocolate but women’s superior sense of smell means they are more likely to enjoy the ride. Here is the recipe for you to test the theory!

Chocolate cake serves 8-10

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 300ml single cream
  • 1tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 300g light brown soft sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate (70-80%) roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt

in_the_making

Buttercream icing

  • 150g icing sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, grease and line 2 x 20cm tins with parchment. Warm the cream, vanilla and HALF of the brown sugar until just steaming. Add the chopped chocolate, stir to melt and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl use electric beaters to cream the butter with the remaining sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time with a tablespoon of flour, stir in the melted chocolate mixture, sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Divide equally between the two tins and bake for 30 mins or until a skewer inserted at the centre of the cake comes out clean. Set on a wire rack and leave to cool in the tins.
  3. For the buttercream icing, melt the chocolate over a bowl of simmering water, set aside and leave to cool for 10 mins. In a separate bowl cream the butter and icing sugar until smooth, then beat in the cocoa and a pich of salt. Stir in the melted chocolate. If the icing is too soft, chill for 10 mins.
  4. Remove the cakes from the tins and peel away the parchment, spread one with the icing, put the second cake on top and cover the whole cake with the remaining icing.

Mmmm! Do let us know what you think if you try it!

 

Text and photos by Alison Korter-Lacki, May 2015.

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