When the Mayans presented Prince Philip of Spain with jars of beaten cocoa, they offered what they valued most. This was the drink of kings.
In La Celeste Praline the chocolate shop of the film Chocolat, Vianne (who was blown by the North winds to the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes) changed the lives of people with chocolate. She concocted elaborate blends and offered her soothing confectionary like sorceresses prescribed elixirs. As her sweet magic began to work, love flourished again in the village.
Are we therefore to assume that eating chocolate is like falling in love? In some ways it is, because cocoa contains a chemical called phenyl ethylamine also known as the ‘love molecule’ or the ‘love drug’. This anxiety numbing ‘drug’, stimulates happiness and contentment in the brain. Cocoa also contains an important mineral, magnesium, which helps reduce anxiety, depression and insomnia. Whenever we are down or sad we automatically reach for chocolate.
Let’s admit for a moment that eating chocolate in moderation is a remedy. Let’s also admit that whenever we feel the need for instant comfort there is no better way than to bake a deliciously gooey chocolate cake.
With the Easter winds about to blow soon in our direction, I thought of this old favourite of mine: a flourless chocolate cake. Soft, moist and easy to make, it is simply scrumptious!
200 g unsalted butter
200 g 70% dark chocolate
200 g sugar
50 g ground almonds
A dash of Cognac
A few drops of vanilla essence
Serves 6 to 8
- Butter a 18 cm (7 inch) spring form cake tin and dust it with cocoa powder.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
- Using the paddle attachment, mix the eggs until they begin to froth.
- Add sugar and keep mixing until the creamy blend turns to whitish colour and almost doubles in volume.
- In a bain-marie,melt the butter and chocolate or microwave for to 2 minutes. Stir when melted.
- Add vanilla and cognac to the egg mixture.
- Fold in the melted chocolate and butter.
- Finally gently mix in ground almonds.
- Transfer to the buttered tin and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. *
- Let it cool.
*Cooking time will vary from oven to oven. The centre of the cake should remain fairly soft to the touch.
50 ml double cream
100 g butter
200 g dark chocolate
- Gently warm cream and butter in a saucepan over very low heat.
- Add the chocolate pieces and leave to slowly melt.
- Remove from the heat.
- Mix with a spoon.
- Allow 10 to 15 minutes cooling time before spreading over the cake with a palette knife.