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Issue 8 - Richpickings

Scotland Magazine Issue 8
May 2003

 

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Richpickings

SUELAWRENCEGETSCARRIEDAWAYWITHTHESHEERINDULGENCE OFCOOKINGWITHCHOCOLATE

Beforeweunwrapthepackagingandindulgeinafeastofchocolate,hereareafewfacts.Didyouknowthatittakestheharvestofonecocoatreetomakeabout20barsofchocolate?OrthattheAztecsusedcocoabeansasmoneyandalsogroundthemuptomakeadrink,flavouredwithchilli,cinnamon,maizemealandwater?AndwhenCortezarrivedatthecourtofMontezumain1519,thatheandhismenwereservedthisdrink–‘xocolatl’–insumptuousgobletsofpuregold?Renownedasanaphrodisiacatthetime(sowhat’snew?),Montezumausedtofortifyhimselfwithjugsofthebrewbeforeretiringtohisharem.

Therest,astheysay,ishistory:thedrinkwasintroducedtoSpainwheretheyaddedsugarandvanilla,and,afteracenturyofkeepingitacloselyguardedsecret,theSpaniardsintroducedittoFranceandItaly,andthenEngland,whereitstastewasimprovedbytheadditionofmilk.AftertheDutchmanVanHouteninventedapresstoextractcocoabutterfromcocoaliquorin1828,givinguscocoaasweknowittoday,theEnglishQuakerfamilies(Fry,Rowntree,Cadbury,Terry)optedtoproducechocolateasanourishingdrink,toprovideahealthieralternativetogin.

Thefirsteatingchocolateappearedaround1847,andsincethenourannualconsumptioninBritainhasincreasedtoahealthy8–10kilosperperson;healthy,thatis,comparedtogin.Itwasinthe1890sthattheHersheycompanywasestablishedintheUS.FrankMarssetupbusinessinMinnesotain1920.

InScotland,withourrenownedsweettooth,wehavebeeninveterateconsumersofchocolateovertheages,andnowadays,Iamhappytosay,therearesmallartisanalcompaniesmakingworld-classchocolates,suchasAudreyMeikleofPickwick&MarquisinAyrshire,whomakesdivinecreamtruffleswithflavourssuchaschampagneandraspberryorwhitechocolateandlemon.

Becauseofitsspecialplaceinourlives,therearealsotheusualcomfortstoriesassociatedwithchocolate:childhoodmemoriesofsuckingsquaresofdairymilkchocolateafteragrazedkneeandacuddle;lateron,eatingaboxofBelgiantrufflessingle-handedlytotrytomendabrokenheart.Andnowadays,IcanthinkofnothingnicerthanspendingSaturdaynightin,withagoodbottleofwineandadelicioussupper,thensnugglingintothesofawithaboxofchocolateswhilewatchingHighSocietyforthe50thtime.

Tasteschangeovertheyears,andmineareslightlylessunsophisticatedthantheywereasachild,andIamabletoassuagemylustforchocolatewithafewsquaresof70percentcocoasolidsplainchocolateinsteadofthedismallylow(20percent)milkchocolateofmychildhood(thehigherthepercentageofcocoasolids,thebetterthechocolate:lookforaminimumof50percentfordarkand30percentformilk.)AndIcouldcertainlynevermanagesixchocolatecreameggsinadayasIateasastudentoneEasterDaybetweenlunchandtea.Butthereisstillsomethingobsessiveandirresistibleaboutthetasteandtextureofchocolate,andIbelievethatifmypassionforchocolatebegantowane,thenIwouldbemoreorlessreadytoshuffleoffthismortalcoil.Pleasecouldtherebechocolatecakeatthewake?

CHOCOLATECHUNKSHORTBREAD

250g/9ozunsaltedbutter,softened
175g/6ozgoldencastersugar
225g/8ozplainflour,sifted
115g/4ozsemolina
200g/7ozchocolatechunks
(milkorplain–high-qualitychocolate)

Placethebutterandsugarinabowlandbeatwelluntillightandfluffy–byhand,inafoodmixerorwithhand-heldelectricbeaters.

Addtheflour,semolinaandapinchofsalt,andcombinegentlybutthoroughly,thenstirinthechocolatechunks.

Turnintoabutteredswiss-rolltin(23x33cm,9x13in):themixturewillbeprettycrumblyatthisstage.Flouryourhands,thenpressthemixturedownsoitislevelallover.Prickalloverwithafork,thenplacethetinonabakingsheet,thenintheoven,tobakeat150C/300F/Gas2forabout40minutes,oruntilfirmaroundtheedgesandpalegolden-brownallover.

Removeandplacethetinonawirerackandcutintosquares.Coolforabout30minutes,thenremovetheshortbreadtothewireracktocoolcompletely.

HOTCHOCOLATEFUDGEPUDDING

Themethodheremightseembizarre–pouringhotwateralloveraspongemixture,butitsinksthroughthepuddingtoformarichfudgysauceunderneath.Magic!

200g/7ozself-raisingflour,sifted
140g/5ozcocoapowder,sifted
200g/7ozgoldencastersugar
85g/3ozqualitydarkchocolate,chopped
40g/11/2ozbutter,melted
1mediumfree-rangeegg
175ml/6flozmilk
1tspvanillaextract
150g/51/2ozdarkmuscovadosugar

Mixtheflour,25g/1ozcocoaandthecastersugartogether,thenaddthechocolate.Whisktogetherthemeltedbutter,egg,milkandvanillaandpourintothedryingredients,stirringwell.Spoonintoabuttered1.5-litre/21/2-pintroundovenproofdish.

Mixtheremainingcocoawiththebrownsugarandsprinkleoverthepudding.

Slowlypour450ml/16flozveryhotwater(justofftheboil)alloverthepudding,thenplaceinapreheatedoven(180C/350F/Gas4)forabout50minutes,oruntilfirmandspringy.Servewarmwithcream.

REALHOTCHOCOLATE

400ml/14flozfull-fatmilk
1heapedtbspgoldencastersugar
125g/41/2ozqualitydarkchocolate,chopped
whippedcream,marshmallows,
chocolateshavings

Heatthemilkandsugarinasmallsaucepan.Whenyouseebubbles,addthechocolate.Whiskforacoupleofminutesoveramediumheat,untildissolved.Tasteandaddmoresugarifnecessary.

Pourintotwomugsanddecoratelavishlywithcream,marshmallowsandchocolate.