Chocolate & Spice

chocolate, spice and the other pleasures in life

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Chocolate is a cure....

for days like today.

For the first time in many weeks, Melbourne finally sees rain and quite a fair bit of it too with showers throughout the whole day. With my luck, it's also happens to be the day that I have to traipse around the CBD for class at the Centre for Adult Education.

Today's the first lesson for a course in resin jewellery and sculpture that I signed up for a couple of months ago. I was all excited about producing some beautiful resin bangles and receptacles like those at the expensive but oh so luxe Dinosaur Designs but was disabused of this notion early on in the lesson since we don't actually work with resin until the next lesson. We spend most of our 3 hours discussing how to cast a rubber mold (for the resin), the objects suitable for making a mold (all of my bowls failed our instructor's requirements – there went any thoughts of producing a Dinosaur Design lookalike) and then actually making the rubber mold.

We start first with creating the clay exterior and that alone took me ages and ages and even then, still needed reshaping by the instructor. I forgot to mention earlier that I'm the girl who routinely failed her craft projects in school so when I was handling the sticky stuff, that gave me horrible flashbacks of my ay sculpture that hardened into an unmentionable shape because my patience gave up before I finished it. Then came the mixing of the rubber and the active agent, and the pouring of the rubber from a height in a thin thin stream ("You're pouring too fast!! TOO FAST!!"), which suitably chastened, I managed to get right eventually after several screams of "SLOWER!!" from the teacher. 15 minutes later, my arms are screaming blue murder and I was wondering what I'd signed myself up for.

Strangely enough, I'm not half as impatient when I cook or bake, although I'm still not patient enough to sit with a tiered cake on a lazy susan and pipe elaborate twirls. Maybe it's because most of the time, end products for cooking/baking sessions don't quite take the whole day to emerge (unless you're making a Christmas fruit cake, in which case the whole process probably takes a month before you unearth the cake for consumption). Of course, I do love recipes that produce results in a snap and that's why lazy me had flagged this recipe in Allan Campion and Michelle Curtis' new cookbook "Everyday Cooking" alone for it's title "One-Pot Chocolate Cake". I was quite gratified to realise after finishing that I REALLY only had the pot, the wooden spoon and the springform tin to wash!

I've come across better chocolate cake recipes but this recipe isn't all bad, seeing that it doesn't require an electric beater or food processor (i.e. perfect for me as I have really basic equipment here!) or 12 eggs ("Eve's Chocolate Cake" from Damien Pignolet's "French" which scared me with the thought of cholesterol counting) although it does require 1 whole 250g slab of butter. And it definitely tastes much better with keeping as the recipe promised so you can make it in advance for a party! To cut down on more washing, I skip making chocolate ganache and use my new obsession, Nutino, as a quick icing instead. YUMS!

With a splash of thickened cream and sprinkle of cocoa powder (mine looks quite unartistic I know but then again, that's me - the unartistic girl! And apparently sprinkling the powder doesn't quite look the same as using a sift .....), this One-Pot Chocolate Cake does hit the spot after a frazzling morning grappling with goopy materials and getting my new Bonds top clay-streaked.

One-Pot Chocolate Cake
(serves 6-8)


250g soft butter
150g dark chocolate, chopped
220g caster sugar
250ml strong coffee, cooled completely
150g plain flour
100g self raising flour
50g baking cocoa
2 eggs (medium sized weighing about 59g each)


Preheat the oven to 180'C. Butter a 22cm springform cake tin, line the sides and bottom with greaseproof paper and butter lightly.
Place the butter, chocolate, caster sugar and coffee in a large saucepan. Cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally until everything melts. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Sift the flours and cocoa together and add to the cooled chocolate mixture, along with the eggs. Beat well until all ingredients are combined.
Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake in the prepared oven for 45 minutes. Test the cake by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready; if it doesn't, cook for a further 5 minutes and test again.

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