Friday, February 7, 2014

You've got one week until Valentines' Day. How about chocolate?

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. – Oscar Wilde

This post is originally from two years ago, but since it's one week until Valentine's Day, I though you might like to have it for reference.

Next Friday will be a day full of celebrations as diverse as the couples celebrating it. Some will be going out to dinner (make reservations now!!!), or to a movie, or both. Some of you will also be pulling out all the stops in creating a magnificent feast for the one you love. Most likely some stage of the day will involve chocolate.

A Mayan clay figurine (unknown attribution)
Chocolate through history
Chocolate, from the cacao tree, was unknown in the Old World until Europeans "discovered" Central America in the 1400s.

The cacao tree was worshipped by the Mayan who believed it to be of divine origin. In their language, cacao meant "god food." 

This adoration of cacao continued through to the Aztecs as well. 

Our word "cocoa" is a corruption of the Mayan name.

Chocolate as an aphrodisiac
Chocolate has been used as an aphrodisiac since the time of the Mayans. Emperors would drink cacao mixed with chilli during religious rituals and to increase their fertility and sex drive. Chocolate and chilli is an amazing combination. French courtesans used to feed chocolate to their lovers hoping for the same effect. The ritual of giving chocolate to loved ones continues to this day, in hopes of the same result... sort of.

Chocolate is good for you
Pure dark chocolate is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Antioxidant-rich food effects include increased blood circulation, reduced cholesterol levels, and lowered risks of stroke and heart attack. The magnesium, iron, and vitamin B found in chocolate can also help in preventing other illnesses. 

So maybe the Mayans were onto something. You do have to be healthy to "carouse" properly. At the same time, all things in moderation...

If you're looking for a good dose of chocolate for Valentine's Day, your search is over. How about a rich chocolate cake, complete with pink clove glaze? If it sounds decadent it's because it is.  Yes, I hear you saying "it's only a cake", but it has hints of coffee in the batter and the clove glaze really sends it over the top.

This cake is a snap to make. It is in the oven in 20 minutes – maximum. The glaze takes all of 5 minutes to mix together. If you have the time just before Valentine's Day give it a try. You'' fall in love" with the result.

The batter in the sugar/cocoa dusted pan.
Chocolate Bundt Cake with Pink Clove Drizzle
Prep: 15 min  |  Cook: 45 min to 1 hour
1 tbsp cocoa mixed with 1 tbsp white sugar
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
This is what is meant by the cake pulling away from the
edge of the pan. It's a sign the cake is done, or nearly done.
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Grease a bundt or other tube pan with butter and dust the inside with the cocoa sugar mixture. Shake out any excess and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the milk, yogurt, instant coffee, melted butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Mix on low. Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 2 minutes. Then add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat well after each addition.

Then slowly add in the remaining dry ingredients. Once combined, turn the mixer to medium and beat the batter for a further 5 minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a cake needle inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.
Depending on the pan you use, your time will vary. Start testing for doneness at 45 minutes just to be safe. If using layer pans, start testing at 30 minutes. (The pan I used took 1 hour 5 minutes.)

Allow the cake to partially cool on a wire rack before glazing. While cooling, make the icing and drizzle it on top of the cake. If you glaze it hot the drizzle will just run off.

Pink Clove Drizzle
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp white corn syrup
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
water and food colouring

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Start with 1 tablespoon of water and continue adding a little at a time until you reach the consistency you want, then tint with red food colouring. Only add a drop or two of the food dye at a time and beat well to judge the final colour.


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