After all, it's called Chocolate Tulip...
Chocolate can be both a unifying and a divisive factor. Whole debates can erupt about 'dark vs milk', 'the best kind of M&Ms', 'cocoa:sugar ratios', or 'is white chocolate really chocolate?'
However, most of the time, placing a plate of brownies or a bag of chocolate or a giant bar in the middle of a group of people will result in good spirits, lip-smacking, finger-licking, and lots of smiles.
My economics teacher always promised us chocolate when we found out the answer to a challenge question, and joked that we owed him chocolate when we did well in an assessment. The truth is, we owe him a whole lot more than chocolate – to go with economics terms, technically, teachers could be considered as not being economic goods, because it's actually very difficult to put a price on them.
But this chocolate-nutella cake in a jar was symbolic, and I had a lot of fun making it, right down to the cute labels and nerdy economics puns.
I think I ate this cake in 3 forms: First, I planted myself on the kitchen counter and licked all the extra batter out of the bowl.
Then halfway through baking we smelled something burning, and all the batter had bubbled out of the cupcake cups, all over the tray. (After much reflection, we realised that in the chaos of the evening, my sister and I had forgotten the flour.....) So after scooping whatever batter was reclaimable into a new tray and adding some random scoops of flour, I ate up the delicious sizzling-brownie-esque stuff that was all over the tray.
And then I finally turned the broken cake into 'cake in a jar', layered with huge dollops of nutella and lots of chocolate sprinkles. Yeah. And of course I ate up the extra bits of cake.
Another delight of chocolate is chocolate in the morning. The Dutch know how to do this right, with rich chocolate sprinkles or flakes on toast being immensely popular. Chocolate features in my oatmeal, on my toast, in my cereal, anywhere. One morning towards the end of school, I had a pretty exhausting day ahead and lots of work, so I decided to make myself chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Because. Breakfast is special and pancakes are fun and chocolate just makes it better.
The chocolate was gooey and warm, and the pancakes were crisp and soft, and it just turned my day around.
Of course, I've thought of the people who don't like chocolate at all. (Don't worry. I don't hate you.)
So whatever it is that makes you socialise, laugh, and be happy, go ahead and make it.
Eat it in 3 forms. Eat it for breakfast.
Adapted from Maria's Menu
Note: my cake was entirely wrong, and it tasted pretty scrumptious. I made the batter without flour, and poured it into a muffin tray. Halfway or 3/4 of the way through, when it smelled like burned sugar, I scooped it all out and added a few spoons of flour (by this point there was very little batter left). I baked it for a little while longer till it seemed a little solid, but it stayed really moist. The result was a cake that didn't come out of the pan incredibly well, but served perfectly for pressing into a layered cake in a jar. Maybe if you do something similar, but put the batter in a regular pan in the first place (you want to avoid sizzling batter all over your muffin pan...) you could get a super cool messed up cake :) You never know.
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar (powder it if it's Indian sugar)
1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil)
1/4 cup hot coffee (1 teaspoon instant coffee in 1/4cup hot water)
1/4 cup milk at room temperature
1/4 cup yoghurt at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla essence/vanilla sugar
Preheat the oven to 180 C, 10 mins before baking. Lightly grease the cake tin and line with parchment paper. In a large bowl sift together the all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and sugar. Make a well. Add all the wet ingredients one by one.
With an electric mixer, beat the mixture on low speed for 2-3 minutes until the dry and wet ingredients are well combined. Do not over beat it.
Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Tap the pan a couple of times so the batter is spread evenly and there are no air bubbles. Bake for about 30 minutes. Take the cake out when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cake cool before taking it out of the pan.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pancakes
From Top With Cinnamon
Note: I used olive oil, and I skipped the dates because my chocolate was sweeter.
This recipes also happens to be vegan and gluten-free.
Serves 1 (4-5 small pancakes)
1/2 cup (40 g) old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 ripe banana, peeled
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk (any kind - e.g. almond, cashew, oat, cow's - obvs don't use cow's milk if you're vegan)
2 dates, pitted
2-3 tbsp dark chocolate chips, plus more for topping (vegan, if required)
Coconut oil, for frying (you can use regular vegetable oil too)
Blend all the ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in a food processor or blender, until well mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Heat a non-stick frying pan with a little coconut oil. Dollop the batter into the frying pan (I go for a heaped tablespoon of batter) and spread out a bit with a spoon. Cook until lightly golden underneath, then flip and cook until the other side is golden. Serve warm with the remaining chocolate chips.