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History of chocolate and a recipe from our pastry chef

Chocolate makes the world go round! Enjoy a potted history of chocolate – plus a very chocolatey recipe from our pastry chef.

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Chocolate may seem like a modern invention, but the beginnings of chocolate actually date back to Central America, to a time when the region was known as Mesoamerica. The first traces of chocolate come in the form of fermented chocolate – essentially an ancient hot chocolate – that have been dated back to 450 BC.

Not only does chocolate have a long history, but the reverence people hold chocolate with seems to be a longstanding trait of the foodstuff too. The scientific name of the cacao tree is even Theobroma cacao, which literally translates as ‘Food of Gods’. The Aztecs believed cacao seeds were a gift from Quetzalcoatl – a god of wisdom. In this age, cacao seeds were so valuable, they were actually used as a form of currency!

A world where chocolate makes the world go round and makes people wise sounds like a pretty good one to us…

Back in those days, drinks and foods made with cacao seeds were quite bitter. But in the 16th century, chocolate arrived in Europe, sugar was added, and chocolate closer to the variety we know today was born.

Over the years, chocolate’s highly esteemed status has continued. It was considered to be an essential part of ration packages for US soldiers during World War I. On Valentine’s Day alone, an estimated £330 million is spent on buying chocolate. And other industries feed chocolate too – including 40% of the world’s almonds, which are used in chocolate making.

To celebrate all things chocolate, our pastry chef has shared a very special chocolate recipe.

Chocolate fudge cake recipe

Ingredients:

400g plain flour
250g caster sugar
100g soft light brown sugar
50g cocoa powder
10g baking powder
5g bicarbonate of soda
3 eggs
150g buttermilk
175g butter
125ml vegetable oil
300ml cold water
5 vanilla essence

 

Frosting
230g dark chocolate
450g icing sugar
120ml boiling hot water
42g golden syrup
15g vanilla essence
320g unsalted butter
50g cocoa powder

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°
  2. Add the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to a mixing bowl and combine.
  3. Using a pan over a low heat, melt the butter with the oil and the soft light brown sugar. Set aside.
  4. Add the buttermilk, vanilla essence and eggs to the flour mix. Whisk until the mixture is a smooth batter.
  5. Add the butter and oil mixture to the batter.
  6. Add the cold water and mix until smooth.
  7. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased cake tin and cook in the oven for 50 minutes, testing with a skewer until it comes out clean.
  8. While the cake is baking, make the frosting. Start by placing the icing sugar in a mixing bowl and adding the hot water.
  9. In a pan, melt the chocolate and golden syrup over a low heat and add in the icing sugar mixture.
  10. Remove from the heat and add in the butter. Once it has completely incorporated through the residual heat, add the vanilla essence and allow the frosting to cool.
  11. Add the frosting to the cooled cake. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 12

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