Sunday, August 17, 2008
Just Say No!
No matter what part of the world you live in, it seems, you regularly hear horrid tales about the evils of drug abuse. I have nothing new to add to that debate.
I am more concerned with a less common, but no less pernicious phenomenon, the problem of chocolate abuse among otherwise upstanding housewives. I refer, of course, to the GMCCD [Great Microwave Chocolate Cake Debate] over at Thimbleanna's. That is the action of a truly desperate woman. As with other kinds of substance abuse, it's often not until you've hit rock bottom that you find the courage to mend your ways. I think making a chocolate cake in the microwave represents rock bottom in this instance.
Thimbleanna is a sweet lady. A devoted wife and mother. Funny and talented. I think this issue has crept up on her, and she probably doesn't realise the danger she is in. If she continues on this path, who knows where she might end up?
Living under a bridge?
Dumpster diving behind the Godiva store?
Begging for Hershey Kisses on the streets of Indiana?
One shudders for her......
As we all know, chocolate is an essential ingredient in the maintenance of mental health, particularly for women. With that in mind, a wise woman stashes chocolate in various places throughout her house. She will not, especially as she advances in age, necessarily remember all these hiding places, but she should not let such a minor drawback deter her from stashing, plenty, and often. She will find it when she least expects to, and, if God's in His heaven, when she needs it most. There is no greater bonus in life than rummaging for something in a little-used drawer, only to have one's fingers close unexpectedly around a bar of Ritter Sport Cappuccino, or some Lindt Truffles, or Belgian Seashells. Planted there for a rainy, hormonal, climbing-the-walls kind of day. And promptly forgotten.
Obviously Thimbleanna made no such provisions.
At her lowest ebb, she resorted to making a chocolate cake in her microwave. It makes one sad to even think about it.
And so, because I am kindhearted, and want to help her with her chocolate abuse problem, and prevent others from going down the same path to hell, I have decided to share my swoon-inducing recipe for chocolate cake. A recipe that gives a wide berth to the microwave. A recipe that is easy and delicious, and equal to the job of taming that chocolate-craving monster within.
The oven should be preheated to 350 degrees F and the following ingredients assembled:
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tblsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats [not instant]
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened [I prefer butter]
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
A generous handful of semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
The chocolate chips can be omitted, but then why bother with the cake at all?
The world will likewise not cave in should you wish to skip the nuts.
I sometimes toss a Tblsp of instant coffee crystals in with the oatmeal and water, depending on whether or not I'm in a mocha kind of mood. To get a strong coffee flavour you'd probably have to dump the entire jar in. Which might then scuttle the whole point of the exercise, which is to placate the monster, not give him caffeine jitters. Better not.
And lastly, it's not required, but I usually add 1 tsp of vanilla.
Stir together the flour,salt,soda,and cocoa; set aside.
Mix oatmeal and boiling water together in a large bowl; let stand about 10 minutes.
Stir in butter and both kinds of sugar.
Add eggs and mix well.
Beat in the flour mixture and the nuts, if using; mix well.
Spread the batter in a greased and floured 13"x 9"x 2" pan. Sprinkle the chocolate pieces on top. The original recipe instructs one to toss half the chips into the batter and to sprinkle the rest on top. I prefer to sprinkle them all on top so they don't sink to the bottom!
Bake in a preheated 350 degree [F] oven for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.Do not overbake. Moist is yummier.
Cool the cake in the pan.
You could frost the cake with your favourite chocolate frosting, but that smacks to me of gilding the lily. Besides, it never lasts long enough at my house to get the frosting on! A little sprinkle of powdered sugar just before serving, or [yum!] a dollop of whipped cream, is embellishment enough. It's a great cake to send to kids away at school,as it keeps well. I would recommend to Thimbleanna that she store the cake in plain sight, where her family can see it and help her to demolish it. If, however, her addiction is flaring, she could hide it in a paper bag in the laundry room and eat it all herself. But in that case I think I'd have to refer her to a twelve step program......
I think she will find that this recipe will cure her of any temptation to resort to eating microwaved excuses-for-chocolate-cake, that I have to think would be akin to chewing on old leather. So if any of you are overcome by a sudden urge to make a chocolate cake in the microwave, fight it! Be strong! Make this one instead.
Your taste buds will thank you! And you'll avoid the pain and expense of rehab.