Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Adventuring into a Chocolate Discovery

I never knew such adventure could be so easy.

I never knew that even we common folk do not need to get brownies and cake from a boxed mix. I never knew it could all be so simple.

When I was around ten, I saw the recipe for chocolate cake on the back of our Hershey's cocoa powder. I decided to try it out. I have a vague memory of a flattish, burnt thing that came out of the venture. Even though I was young at this time, I have always taken this experience to mean that I am incapable of baking a cake that did not come from a box.

And then it happened, a few weeks ago, that I found myself making a brownie recipe from a smaller brand of cocoa powder. It was very simple, mixing in flour and cocoa powder and sugar and the like and putting it all in a dish in the oven. And the brownies tasted good. Everyone told me so. I grew encouraged.

For a birthday, I decided to venture into cake and frosting. (From Martha Stewart: click the links for the cake and the frosting.) I looked for simple, basic recipes that didn't look too intimidating. Nothing too fancy, either. After all, I already know that I can make great flourless chocolate cake very easily (the secret is that you have to use very good chocolate). These recipes, paired with some good quality, hippie-looking, organic cocoa powder from Holy Kakow (which was the same kind I used for the brownies) meant wonderfulness.

Sure, I took a little more time with these recipes than if I'd been using a box. I made a little more of a mess. I think probably I will go more quickly next time. But it was all fairly simple. Mix in this and that, bake it all. And the thing about this is that you can choose the ingredients. We all know that a boxed cake just has junk in it. If you mix in the ingredients yourself, you can choose the organic cocoa powder, the pure cane sugar, the good flour, the fragrant vanilla, the fresh eggs, the unsalted butter. I don't ever, by the way, want to buy Hershey's or Nestle cocoa powder again.

Chocolate is intimidating to work with because it's such a fussy substance. But I needed only to work with cocoa powder for the brownies, cake, and frosting. (And, hey, I guess I get along just fine with the chocolate when I make the flourless chocolate cake.) Cocoa powder is much more forgiving and so there is no reason for intimidating. I am amazed and in awe.

Tell me why, why do we think that brownies and cakes and frosting must all come from boxes?

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