Despite any impressions you may get from the following post, I’m generally not a big chocolate eater, I tend to go for the savoury, salty variety when it comes to foodstuffs that come from a vending machine. I also generally prefer fruity desserts or just fresh fruit (especially in summer). However, over the last month I had not one, but two, blocks of dark cooking chocolate at my disposal and a couple of recipes that had interested me enough to warrant making them animal friendly.
The first was “Mary’s Chocolate, Coffee and Cream Pie” from The Vegetarian Adventure Cook Book. This cookbook is somewhat of a New Zealand vegetarian bible. Or maybe it just is for me as it was the first veggie cookbook I remember reading as a youngster – that and it is in every cookery section in every bookshop back home. The ingredients are something of a fantasy list for a decadent dessert: chocolate, coconut and coffee.
The base of the pie is chocolate melted with a bit of “butter” and a hugely generous amount of coconut. This mixture is then smushed together, forming a shell, chilled and then filled with creamy (but not heavy) concoction of chocolate, very strong instant coffee, a little bit of sugar, a mixture of soy milk and cream and agar flakes to get it to set. The verdict? Very nice! Not too sweet at all (as I prefer my desserts) and with a real coffee hit. This one has certainly made the “Definitely Make Again” list.
Number two was the “Chocolate Cake” from Rachel Allen’s Bake. I flicked through this book in detail in Waterstones while passing time one day. My first impressions were that it was a pretty decent collection of recipes, most of which I could modify to my heart’s desire (and probably quite easily) and therefore worthy of purchase – one day. Well, a well-known Internet retailer recently had it heavily reduced, and somehow it ended up passing from my wish list, to my shopping basket and finally to my front door and into my kitchen!
I’ll admit that I feel somewhat compelled to like chocolate cake, such is the social perception that women-kind has a kryptonite weakness for chocolate, and especially chocolate in the cake form. But truth be told I often find chocolate cake to be disappointing and rather anti-climatic. So if I am to make it there are certain conditions that must be met: one of those is the use of chocolate and not just cocoa powder in the recipe (why make chocolate cake without chocolate?). Luckily this recipe does use dark chocolate in the cake batter. I then subbed the eggs with blended tofu but stuck with the butter ingredient, using an animal friendly option instead. Often in cakes and similar baked goods I’ll sub in oil for the butter, however this time I didn’t and I’m glad, because the result was extremely pleasing: very much like a Victoria Sponge in texture (though I doubt the WI would have approved of it). In a fit of domestic goddess-ness I also whipped up the chocolate butter icing and sandwiched the cake together with this and then dusted it with icing sugar. The final result with very sweet (due to the icing) but still rather nice and not anti-climatic at all.