Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Chocolate Continuum, or, Smells Like Chocolate Spirit

Like hemlines and pop stars, chocolate has its trends. Back in the swingin’ Seventies, every fondue restaurant worth its shag carpeting served chocolate mousse for dessert. The glitzy Eighties brought us giant chocolate tortes adorned with chocolate curls, enough sugar to fuel a New Wave all-nighter. Suddenly, everyone wanted to commit suicide with chocolate as the weapon of choice. Death by chocolate desserts popped up in a desire to combine dessert and nihilism. In the Nineties, we wore flannels, discovered these strange little metal disks that held music and stopped putting flour in our chocolate cakes. The Aughts saw us scuffing around in Uggs and Juicy Sweats, gluing ourselves to the Internet and preferring our chocolate cake molten, i.e. underbaked. Where will chocolate go next? Only the gods of cocoa know for certain. But chocolate, whatever permutation it takes on the dessert menu, is forever.

The De Beers cartel would have us believe a diamond is forever, but I’d rather have chocolate. I’d look more favorably on Z. if he presented me with a box of See’s rather than some valueless rock pried from the ground to gleam uselessly on my finger. Have you ever had a See’s Candy Bordeaux crème? If you did, you’d know why a diamond is just carbon in comparison.

February means romance on demand, and that means chocolate. This month’s DB challenge had us all strap on our Timberland hiking boots, turn up the Pearl Jam and go back in time. Our Valentines would be gifted with flourless chocolate cake, plus we had to make some creamy accompaniment, preferably of the ice cream variety. To be frank, flourless chocolate cake never ranked high on my dessert dance hits. It can be dense and monodimensional. I like a little textural play in my desserts, and, often, FCC is just a wedge of gritty, unrelenting chocolate without much sense of humor. We all have relatives like that, and they usually corner us at family gatherings to grill us about tax preparation.

But, being a DBer means setting aside my biases for the greater baking good. So I made the FCC and found it easy and, shockingly, pretty damned tasty. I added a hit of cinnamon for a tip of the hat to chocolate’s pre-Columbian beginnings, and reduced the size of the recipe so it yielded one cute little cake, perfect for Z. and I. My accompaniment was orange and cream ice cream, its flavor reminiscent of an orange and cream popsicle, but with a much more sophisticated flavor profile.

I’m not a FCC convert, just as I don’t miss my sartorial and dating choices from the Nineties. But I can still look back on all of that with some nostalgia while eating the dessert of yesteryear with my now and forever sweetheart. I’m looking forward to see what the future brings.

I remain,
Your servant, &c.


Anonymous said...

Sweet. Let's talk tax prep over a box of Christmas Sees.

Christina R said...

You write wonderfully! Care to share the Orange and Cream Ice Cream recipe?

Kristine said...

Agreed about FCC being over-rated. The late 80s/early 90s (the last time I made one before this challenge) was not a pretty time. It was time full of....excesses. FCC is definitely in the excess category. Ditto on the dating choices back then. Things are so much better now!

I made the FCC and some fabby rosewater ice cream, the first week in Feb, took good pix, but have no interest in even posting about the challenge. I don't have to now as your post says it all. Thanks! Kristine