Friday, October 21, 2005

SHF #13: Dark Chocolate

cake, originally uploaded by emily loke.

For me, chocolate is an obsession, an addiction, a passion. Besides being a significant part of me physically (hips – need I say more?), chocolate as an element has, over the years, become interwoven with so many memories that I now find it quite hard to separate myself from it emotionally.

Chocolate was there the night my god brother and I stayed up well past our bedtimes, cloistered in the kitchen making milkshakes out of anything sweet we could find. It was all over us when our mothers finally discovered what we were up to, and was smudged across our very faces that contorted horribly as we tried to feign innocence while holding back laughter at the same time.

When problems in our lives weighed too heavily on our shoulders, chocolate was always present – in the form of Irish Cream brownies – during the long sessions of mutual commiseration M and I shared. Crumbs of it were in the water of her pool the night M and I swore to never let physical distance change our friendship. It was smeared into our clothing as we hugged each other goodbye. It was promised a place of honour in our next meeting, whenever that happened to be.

In my fondest memory of it to date, chocolate in a luxurious molten state oozed out of the warm cakes N, G and I would share as we swilled champagne cocktails and allowed our giggles to drift through night air tinted blue with cigarette smoke. It was there- in that cake, served with 3 forks – each time I would return home to see them. It was there to mark summers of adrenaline-fuelled euphoria, to kick off nights of parties that always ended too soon. It was on our table the night we toasted to a lifetime of summers just like that one.

Chocolate was there tonight as part of a comfort food lineup D and I shared as we bemoaned family, school, boys and life in general. It was eaten in the kind of silence only good friends would find comfortable – the kind that is inevitably followed by hours and hours of talking about somethings and nothings and everything in between. It was a non-verbal way to tell D to cheer up: that no matter how unbearable life seemed at times, she’d always have friends like me and chocolate.

For R, my god brother who I think of every time I have a tooth-achingly sweet milkshake, for M who brownies just don’t taste the same without, for N and G who at the same time live far away in person and close to me in my heart, and finally for D whose happiness I am wishing for: should any of you ever decide to make this dessert, may the memories associated with its chocolate content be as rich and sweet as the confection itself.

Molten Chocolate Memory Cake

For the cake:
1 egg white
1 pinch cream of tartar
4 tbs sugar
½ cup chopped dark chocolate
4 tbs cocoa powder
4 tbs butter
1 pinch grey sea salt

For the cream:
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbs icing sugar
2 tsp orange liqueur

1. Microwave chocolate, cocoa powder, salt and butter together till melted, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds to prevent burning.
2. Meanwhile, whisk egg white with cream of tartar still frothy, then add sugar and beat till stiff peaks form.
3. When chocolate mixture is melted and smooth, add into the egg whites and whisk gently till just combined.
4. Grease 4 small ramekins (about 2 inches diameter) and coat with granulated sugar.
5. Ladle batter in till ¾ way full, and bake for in a 400 degree oven for 7 minutes (or till tops are set, but insides are still wet).
6. While the cakes are baking, add icing sugar and liqueur to cream and beat till stiff.
7. When the cakes are done, invert carefully onto plates and serve immediately, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.