Is there any day that couldn’t be made just a little bit better with a sliver of chocolate cake?
We’re currently at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, in all our eco-friendly finery, and in honour of National Chocolate Day (and the fact that the inimitable Mary Berry is visiting) we wanted to share a link to her fabulous recipe for the Very Best Chocolate Cake.
Taking just 50 minutes from start to finish, this gorgeous gateau is deep with luscious Fairtrade cocoa, light with cream, and has just a touch of tang from its apricot jam glaze.
You can find the full (and fabulous recipe) over here – and whilst you’re waiting for your cake to bake, we went foraging for some chocolatey facts to keep you entertained:
- Did you know that cacao (aka chocolate) was once used as a currency? Apparently so. Science Magazine reported that:
“A new study reveals that chocolate became its own form of money at the height of Mayan opulence…The study is on the right track, says David Freidel, an anthropologist and Maya expert at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who was not involved with the work. Chocolate “is a very prestigious food,” he says, “and it [was] almost certainly a currency.”
- White chocolate isn’t actually considered chocolate. According to Bon Appetit:
“Technically, white chocolate is not a chocolate—and it doesn't really taste like one—because it doesn't contain chocolate solids. When cocoa beans are removed from their pods, fermented, dried, roasted, cracked open, and their shells discarded, what results is a nib.
Chocolate nibs are ground into a paste called chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor can be separated into cocoa solids, which provide the flavor, and cocoa butter, which is the fat. Though white chocolate contains extracted cocoa butter, it lacks the component that defines real chocolate.”
- The chemical in chocolate that makes us feel so good after eating it – Theobromine – actually comes from Latin words, meaning ‘food of the gods’, says Wired:
“The Latin name for the cacao tree - the tropical plant source of all things chocolate - consists of two words packed with candy-loving scientific exuberance. Theobroma cacao.
It derives from the Greek words for god (theo) and food (brosi), roughly translating to "food of the gods".”
- It was because of chocolate that the microwave was first invented:
“About 70 years ago, Raytheon engineer Percy Spencer was testing military-grade magnetron (or really intense magnets) when legend has it the heat made the chocolate bar in his pocket melt.
Fascinated, Spencer brought popcorn kernels into the office next day and put them by the same heat, creating the first ever batch of microwave popcorn. Thanks to his melted snack, the microwave oven was born.”
- Cailler Chocolate, founded in Switzerland, is one of the longest-running chocolate companies still in business in the world today:
“Every piece of Cailler chocolate produced in Broc [a town in Switzerland] is made using carefully-selected, high-quality ingredients. We only use Swiss sugar and fresh Alpine milk from the Broc region.
Cailler is one of the few chocolate makers in the world that uses lightly-condensed milk instead of milk powder. This milk is then added to the cocoa mass using our special procedure.”
However you slice and serve your beautiful cake, we hope you find a suitably indulgent way to enjoy National Chocolate Day – perhaps adding some bubbles (in the bath, or a champagne flute) to your evening.
After all, as Mae West put it – too much of a good thing can be wonderful!