As I revealed yesterday, cookie baking is neither my forte nor my passion, actually baking in general. Some people were simply born to be pastry magicians, and others to be culinary geniuses. The rest of the lower mortals cook to keep body and soul stitched together, and try to have at least one dish that is publicly presentable and guaranteed not to send anyone to the ER. My mother was definitely no pastry wiz, but she perfected her chiffon cake over the years, and my childhood memories are filled with delicious flavours of fluffy chiffon and pound cakes that lived up to their name. Somewhere along the line she discovered that dessert bars were a thing and made up her mind to fiddle around with those as well, and then someone dropped an exquisite chocolate fudge cake recipe in her hands and my life was never the same again.
There is nothing extraordinary or complicated about the recipe, but I supposed Mommy never failed to add that divine ingredient to every cake – kindness. No matter what the occasion or who the guests were, this cake was a winner both in flavour and its simplicity. That is what keeps me so attached to the cake, which I rarely make these days, and every time I do embark on the task, I can’t help but get all sentimental about it.
Like Mommy and my grandfather before me, I consider recipes to be superfluous in life once you know how much is too much and what can go horribly wrong if you forget something… butter for example, can be substituted with margarine but definitely not left out, and the same goes for baking powder. Nuts are definitely optional – she always topped her masterpieces with pecans or walnuts, which I can’t be bothered with. A friend suggested salted chips instead, but I countered with salted pretzels instead, which my daughter supports fully, arguing that there is salted caramel for a reason, and how many ice cream flavours out there have salted something thrown in… I draw the line at Cheetos though, those should be crushed and sprinkled over spaghetti instead of parmesan, or used to bread pork chops!
I don’t know what got into me yesterday but I suddenly had an urge to whip up Mommy’s chocolate fudge cake but with a twist (or two). I threw in a copious amount of chocolate chips into the batter, way more cocoa than required in the original recipe (like I said, recipes have mere suggestive powers not dictatorial rights), and eyeballed the milk and butter quantities. I can feel the cringes the bakers and pastry chefs out there reading this. Once my transformed chococreature emerged from the oven, I drowned it in +/- 1/3 bottle of rum (methinks it was more + than -). I usually resort to Bailey’s but realised too late that I had a choice of rum, tequila or martini rosso, so rum it was. Does anyone remember Uncle Waldo from Aristocats?
The crowning glory of this fudge cake is the gooey chocolate glaze that drowns the cake in a deliciously sinful coat. As I mentioned to a friend this morning, a slice of this will necessitate at least 90min in the gym afterwards! In the absence of salted pretzels, I opted for more chocolate chips as a final topping to my Death by Chocolate creation:
I harbour absolutely no regrets inducing Death by Chocolate, it’s a hell of a way to ditch a diet, and the perfect way to welcome the second Hard Lockdown in Germany today. Mind you, I do not and cannot hold a patent to the name Death by Chocolate because others already have, including some ice cream companies!
It’s bizarre that it took a lockdown to nudge me back into baking this childhood favourite, but that just goes to prove that it is often times the simple things that bring much needed comfort and joy during these dark and turbulent times. As I washed the mountain of dishes and equipment afterwards, I listened to the priest (online mass) remind us that Christmas 2020 is all about simplicity and intimacy – which is actually closer to the original Christmas. Extravagance and lavish festivities are not welcome this year.