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If Chocolate be the Food of Love

One thing that can be sure to get you into your loved one’s good books on February the 14th is chocolate. 

Good quality chocolate is good for our hearts in more ways than one.  It provides amazing antioxidant protection, a wonderful feel good factor, and just enough caffeine to be beneficial in improving fat metabolism.

Chocolate comes from the Theobroma Cacao tree, which literally means ‘food of the gods’, and we get most of it from Africa today, although its history began in Latin America.  The Theobroma Cacao is a delicate little tree, which needs protection from the sun, so it is planted underneath trees of different species, called ‘Madre de Cacao’ or mother of cacao.  When it matures it bears oblong pods, which contain 40 to 50 of the beans.

More than 3000 years ago the Mayans and Aztecs would not only consume the chocolate but also use the cocoa beans as currency.  It is then said that in 1502 on his last voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus came upon a canoe transporting cocoa beans, which he seized and brought back to Spain.  Decades later, when sugar started to be added to the cacao, it started to become more popular, however, the earliest chocolate produced in European history would not have been very enjoyable.  It would have been fatty and difficult to digest.  As early as 1753 the fat was being removed, but it only became powdered in around 1828. The physician to Queen Anne, Sir Hans Sloane had the idea of mixing the powder with milk, and he sold his secret recipe to a London apothecary who later sold it to the Cadbury brothers.

In 1932 Franz Sacher, an Austrian-Jewish confectioner, is said to have invented the Sacher Torte, the world famous chocolate cake.  The Sacher Torte was a dense chocolate cake with apricot jam spread through its middle, and shreds of chocolate on the outside.  The way this classic chocolate cake came about would seem to be by accident, which makes it even more amazing.  The Minister of Austria’s Foreign Affairs, Prince Metternich had ordered his kitchen to create a special dessert for his high ranking dinner guests, and unfortunately the chief cook was taken ill on the same day.  Therefore the task was passed to 16 year old Franz, who was in his second year of apprenticeship at the palace, and the result was the magnificent Sacher Torte.

Since then, the chocolate cake has evolved into many different variations, such as chocolate sponge, chocolate mud cake, red velvet cake, and black forrest gateau to name just a few.  Chocolate is one of the most popular sweet treats known to man and it is not hard to find any number of mouth watering recipes to delight the taste buds, and release some feel good endorphins.

So if you are out to impress this Valentines Day, why not avoid those over priced, over filled restaurants with set menus and bad seating arrangements, and instead cook up a romantic meal for two at your place, followed by feeding each other the most decadent chocolate cake you can possibly imagine.

I can hear Cupid tightening up the strings on his bow as we speak.

 

Frosted Chocolate Fudge Cake

115g plain chocolate broken into squares

175g unsalted butter or margarine

200g light muscovado sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs (Beaten)

150 ml Greek yoghurt

150g self raising flour

 

Frosting

115g dark chocolate

50g unsalted butter

350g icing sugar

90 ml Greek yoghurt

 

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.  Grease two 8 inch round cake tins and line them with baking parchment.

Break the chocolate into squares and heat in a bain marie to melt.

Cream the butter with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla extract and then gradually add the beaten eggs, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the melted chocolate and yoghurt evenly, and then fold in the flour using a metal spoon.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until firm to the touch.  Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Make the frosting.  Melt the chocolate and butter in a pan over a low heat.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the icing sugar and yoghurt.  Stir until smooth, then beat until the frosting starts to cool and thicken slightly.  Use a third of the mixture to sandwich the cooled cakes together, and then spread the remainder on the top.  Decorate with chocolate curls before serving. 

Eat!

 

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