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Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Going like hot cakes

My soul is black from swearing,” a friend said to me last week. And in fairness, the same one knows her way around the odd curse or two when things aren’t going her way. My soul is black for another reason, though. I have failed utterly with Lent this year. I know, I know… shame on me.

It had all started so well too. No beer, no crisps, no chocolate, no biscuits (the four main food groups)… Ash Wednesday was a cinch and even the following day as I was snacking on a celery stick I felt good about myself and the challenge ahead. And then the weekend arrived and the whole thing went to… pot. I was going to use a different word than ‘pot’ there but the aul soul is black enough, so I resisted.

I basically made it as far as the weekend after Ash Wednesday before the wheels fell off the wagon and I was once again shoveling all the badness into me like there was never going to be another Monday. The problem is: Once you give in an inch and you take that one crisp or that one slice of cake, it’s all over (red rover). I knew we should have eaten all the Celebrations before Lent started. Ah, well. There’s always next year.

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Did you know that the Aztecs believed that cacao was a gift to mankind from Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom? They did. Apparently they added spices to ground cacao seeds to make a fermented drink. I wonder what they would have made of my chilli and chocolate fudge cake. I reckon they’d think that a gift from one of the gods as well.

This cake started life as a birthday offering and the addition of chilli powder arrived later, for subsequent creations. I think I was thinking about the addition of dark chocolate to my chilli con carne and wondered if it might work the other way round. Turns out, it does. It’s well known that eating chocolate helps the body release the feel good chemicals, endorphins and the same goes for chilli too. So why not aim for double the happiness with chocolate AND chilli. In this recipe I add half a teaspoon of hot chilli powder but if you’re after more of a hit, you could double that dose. And if you’re a certified spice fan, you could even top the cake with a sprinkling of chilli flakes. Also, if you’re thinking yer man Devlin’s head’s away with his chilli and his chocolate, you could even leave the chilli out altogether and you’re still left with a beautifully decadent chocolate fudge cake, perfect for Easter Sunday.

Goes down a bomb with some just-whipped double cream or even on its own with a cup of coffee.

Don’t be tempted to use cooking chocolate either. You want real dark chocolate, anything with cocoa solids 70 per-cent and upwards.

INGREDIENTS

150g of self raising flour

half tsp of hot chilli powder

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1 tsp of baking powder

35g of cocoa

pinch of fine sea salt

160g of light muscovado sugar

175g of soft butter

3 large free range eggs

1 tsp of vanilla extract

50g of dark chocolate, melted

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

200G soft butter

180g of icing sugar

200g of chocolate, melted

THE PLAN

I should have mentioned that you’ll need two 20cm cake tins for this.

Start by pre-heating the oven to 170C and while that’s happening, grease the two sandwich tins with a little butter and cut out disks of baking parchment to line the bottoms.

Sift the flour, chilli powder, baking powder and cocoa into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Add into that bowl the salt, sugar, eggs, 175g of butter and vanilla and beat the life out of it with a wooden spoon until smooth. You could do this in a mixer, but I don’t have one.

Once smooth, put half of the mixture into each tin and then bake both – ideally on the same shelf in the oven – for 18-20 minutes, until springy and the edges of the cakes are moving away from the sides of the sandwich tins.

Remove from the oven and cool each sponge on wire racks.

When the cakes are nearly cold, get the chocolate fudge frosting on the go. Melt the 200g of chocolate and add this to a big bowl with the rest of the butter and the icing sugar. Once again, viciously beat with a wooden spoon until combined and smooth.

Top one sponge with a good third of the icing and then top with the second sponge. Use the rest of the frosting to ice the top of the cake as in the picture. And that’s it.

If you’ve more frosting left over, you could ice the sides of the cake. But I’m never usually that motivated.

It’s no wonder I couldn’t keep Lent with my oven pumping out cakes like this. Maybe I’ll do Lough Derg this year by way of penance. I know first hand that a chocolate cake is the last thing you’re gonna get there.

Happy Easter!

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