chocolate

You could write off my obsession with chocolate, like I did for the longest time, and say “It’s just the time of year (which is anytime of year) or just that time of the month (which is anytime of the month)”. And I would politely respond, “No, it’s more than that.”  “Craving”, “Addiction”, or “Compulsive Disorder” might be the socially accepted catchphrases you would throw at me. And I would nod and helplessly hum “Mmmmhmmm, I know.”

We could sit and discuss the history of chocolate, which would indicate that many hae fallen prey to its seductive qualities. The cocoa bean was once money that grew on Mayan trees.  “For Pete’s sake, you could buy anything from an avocado to a prostitute with a cocoa bean!”  Given time and technological advancements, chocolate has snaked its way through history. Appearing as a hot, sultry liquid sold in French cocoa houses only the elite of society could afford this tasty treat to the mass-produced, low grade candy bars, courtesy of Mr. Milton Hershey, that tickle our grocery store shelves today.

“And let’s not forget the medicinal benefits that are being reported.” I would add. Antioxidants, serotonin, and a coupla words that start with “phenyl” all comprise the chemical kaleidoscope that is chocolate. It has become the natural mood enhancer and anti-stress agent of our day.

But I would still feel unsettled and well, picky… a bit snobbish in my pursuit of fine chocolate. In an attempt to marginalize myself further, I would land on the term “connoisseur” because anytime I can throw my Puritanical DNA out the window by substituting a French word, whether for hand soap or a state of being, fashion or social reform, I feel so much better about myself. These side notes to my obsession would help, they really would. And indeed, I would not feel so pathetically alone in my drama.

Honestly, I am not thinking of these health benefits or a history lesson at all when I snap off a shiny, mahogany bit of chocolate and breathe in its husky deep aroma, place it on my tongue and press it into the roof of my mouth. Sensing the slow melt of the chocolate at exactly 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit, coeternal with my own body heat. The loudest taste reveals itself first…is it a flower or fruit? Unthreading the softer tones, I press my tongue to the roof of my mouth allowing a more subtle nuttiness to express itself.  Holding on to the seduction for as long as possible, the final aroma blows a kiss to my senses with a soft caress of earthiness and says “farewell”. I am not thinking at all when I eat chocolate. For a brief moment, I am only living. However, it is in the repeated experience of this intoxicating mirage of happiness that allows destruction to come knocking at my door.

And I am cognitively aware that there is no great and lasting fulfillment with my obsession with chocolate. Enticing but never delivering, demanding but never releasing, this forked-tongued attribute is a classic trait with any great obsession. It’s a bit like getting a big running start, jumping on a carousel, going round and round in dizzying circles, and years later wondering why you aren’t riding off into the sunset. It can’t happen, won’t happen, until you get off the ride. And that’s a scary proposition because you might be, well, you might be free. Free to fail and wander, but also free to live.

I realize what I need isn’t more chocolate or another pass through an obsessive cycle. I’m thirsty. Dry and unfocused, I ache from the struggle of trying to get it all right and feel “Good”. The kind of primal thirst you see when a wobbly-kneed foal is born in the early morning hours. Emerging wet from the river of its birth, being licked clean by moonlight and mother’s tongue, the foal searches out for a source to satisfy its thirst. The mare, whose stillness and heartbeat becomes a comforting invitation, knows only she can provide the liquid whose source isn’t an earthly well, but a nourishing spring. With time and experience, the infantile muscles and bones of the foal will establish themselves on solid ground. We might return to visit this foal that no longer requires parental hemming. A mare in her own right. Regal, charged and running free.

Gâteau au Chocolat est une Française or A Frenchwoman’s Chocolate Cake

9.25 oz (250 g) bittersweet or semisweet GOOD chocolate, chopped

8 Tbsp. (120 g) unsalted butter

1/3 Cup (65 g) sugar

4 large eggs, at room temp., separated

2 Tbsp. flour

pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9″ loaf pan and line bottom with a strip of parchment paper.

In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, heat the chocolate and butter together just until melted and smooth. Do NOT do this too quickly, as the chocolate will seize on you.

Remove from heat and stir in half the sugar, then the egg yolks and flour. This isn’t a science experiment, so you don’t have to measure the half-quantity of sugar exactly, just pretend your French.

I prefer using a whisk over an electric mixer, but you can do whatever you want, just begin whipping the egg whites with the salt in a separate bowl. Keep whipping until they start to form, soft, droopy peaks. If this is your first time doing this, have faith, put your arm into it, this will happen. Stick with it. Gradually whip in the rest of the sugar until the whites are smooth and hold their shape when you lift the whisk. You should look into your bowl and see mountains of love.

With a rubber spatula, fold in one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites until you can no longer see any streaks of whiteness. What I  mean by “fold in” is that you are no longer beating or stirring your concoction with great fierceness, but gently, laying a layer over another layer, like folding a beautiful linen napkin or what I call “hula hands”: soft gentle hand movements.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing out the top, and bake for 35 minutes. The cake should feel slightly firm to the touch. do not over bake and let it cool in your wonderful, fragrant kitchen.

Although I do not know him personally, I give David Lebovitz all the credit for inspiring me in this recipe. I admire his work. It is a very simple traditional chocolate cake recipe found in many cookbooks.( But I have increased the amount of chocolate ever so slightly! ) Here is a website for you to procure your chocolate: http://www.chocosphere.com

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This entry was published on March 31, 2011 at 5:54 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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