Throwback Thursday: Rich dark chocolate cake

You know that glorious looking chocolate cake you see in a display cabinet in a restaurant and think, wow, that looks amazing; then you order a slice and it’s bland and hardly chocolaty at all? This recipe endeavours to taste like you wanted that to taste. This week we’re revisiting the Top 5 recipes I turned out in 2022. In 2nd place, and the Throwback Thursday recipe of the year, is my rich dark chocolate cake, first published in April.
Chocolate began life as a luxury and became ubiquitous after a man called Coenraad van Houten in the Netherlands developed a mechanical way of extracting fat from cacao liquor, to create a solid mass that could be sold as rock cacao or ground into powder, a process, says Wikipedia, which “transformed chocolate from an exclusive luxury to an inexpensive daily snack”. And look at us now, unable to reach the supermarket till without negotiating row upon row of chocolate temptations, like sweet little devils on every shoulder.
There’s nothing like chocolate. It occupies a category all its own. Nothing is more likely to blow a well-intended diet to smithereens than chocolate; and it’s the first thing most of us gravitate towards when we think of having something sweet.
But it’s Rodolphe Lindt we have to thank for taking chocolate and making it better, by inventing a process called conching, in 1879, that made it smoother, silkier and better to bake with. There was, until the 1880s, hardly any such thing as a chocolate cake or gâteau, the online encyclopaedia asserts, with people having to get their fix from chocolate drinks, or in a glaze for a cake made of other things. By the 1850s, says Larousse Gastronomique, chocolate production had spread throughout the world, and by 1886 Americans had started to add it to cake batters.
Names like Cadbury, Suchard, Rowntree’s, Nestlé, Kohler and of course Lindt became synonymous with chocolate and immediately brought its taste and texture to mind, and still do.
The first chocolate cake recipe is said to have been published in 1847, but it would have been nothing like the ones we know now, made rich, moist and luscious by techniques such as tempering and skilful use of fillings and toppings such as ganache and the fudges that Americans love. That was the same year that James Fry invented mouldable chocolate paste, launching the chocolate bar into modern culture.
Today’s chocolate cakes ...
12 Dec 2022 8AM English South Africa Food · Food

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