The most familiar recipe in the world to count chocolate as one of its ingredients is undoubtedly chocolate cake. While their sizes, shape, density, flavor, and ingredients may vary depending on where you are, it is a treat that is enjoyed in all corners of the world, from South Africa to Australia to Hawaii and even China. Norwegian Erling Kagge actually took it to the South Pole! He was the first human to conquer this terrain alone and unassisted and sure enough he did it while carrying a chocolate cake in his sled. Even though in most parts of the world it is enjoyed thoroughly, in some parts it has been known to cause terror. In Japan, chocolate cake was once reason to call the bomb squad after some university students left one as a tempting, yet uncommon, gift for a friend and included a threatening note in an attempt to keep away thieves.
No Longer Just For the Rich and Famous
The first mention of chocolate cake comes from England in the 1600′s, when bakers began adding cocoa powder to the cakes that they were already making. The1800′s brought bakers like Antonin Careme (credited with being the premier historic chef of the modern pastry/cake world) and Franz Sacher (famed inventor of the Sachertorte) who began to create decadent recipes for the rich and famous. Their creations would begin to shape the recipes that we use today. During this time a person of less extravagant means might serve chocolate cake as a special treat but this usually referred to a yellow or spice cake that was accompanied by a chocolate beverage, not a cake that included chocolate in its ingredients. It wasn’t until the 20th century, when the price of chocolate declined to the point where it was readily available to the general public, that chocolate cake became a staple for common citizens.
A Versatile Delight
Today chocolate cake can be made with all different kinds of chocolate from milk chocolate to bittersweet chocolate to unsweetened baking chocolate. You can add fruit or nuts or spices or even more chocolate! Recipes have been created and added to and handed down for generations. They sometimes overlap so much that there is confusion as to which nation is responsible for a certain variety. In a Russian restaurant there is a chocolate cake called “the Prague” which is described as a German Chocolate cake (a cake that was named after the American man who created German’s chocolate, not the large European country). There will always be the standard classics that we love but it is also something that continues to be experimented with. Thankfully our taste buds will never get bored.
What Does Your Mood Call For?
The only problem that we may run into is having to make a choice. There is so much variety to chocolate cakes that is can be difficult to know where to begin. It may help to begin with identifying the mood you are in as there seems to be a chocolate cake to go with all of them. Below we offer you three recipes of three very different versions of chocolate cake and in hopes that you can find one to fit how you are feeling today. Bon appetit!
A Gourmet Indulgence
If you are in more of a gourmet mood then let us suggest a Gâteau au Chocolat. This cake exudes sophistication without being pretentious. It is the simplicity of this elegant gratification that makes it perfect for a romantic dinner or if you need the ideal dessert to go with a bottle of Port wine from the Douro Valley of Portugal. The ingredients are few but they result in a flavor that is rich without being too sweet. The chocolate is the focus here so it will only come out as good as the chocolate you put into it, therefore we highly recommend using the best chocolate you can get your hands on.
-9 ounces of dark chocolate (remember, the best you can get your hands on!)
-2/3 cup of butter
-3/4 cup of sugar
-2 T flour
1. Beat together the eggs and the sugar
2. Integrate the two previous processes and pour the mixture into a cake pan. Bake in the oven at 400° for approximately 30 minutes making sure that the center of the cake stays soft. Do not overcook.
We wish you joy and adventure in both your baking and your tasting!