THE chocolate cake (seventh simple pleasure)

12 Sep

Everyone has (should have) one of these. A simple chocolate cake recipe to pull out for special occasions. Everyone likes (should like) chocolate cake.  And this one is good. Dark and brooding, buttery with a touch of salt. A faintly crumbly texture from the almonds that exempts it from the truffle category. That would be too decadent, a slice of chocolate truffle.

Like a book that you need to put down several times so as not to finish it too soon – this cake is one slow, overwhelming bite at a time. Then, satiated, you need to share. To rave about it to someone else.

This is a party cake, a show off cake. (And yet it only it takes five minutes to stir together.) The cake and recipe were offered to me at our housewarming more than six months ago. Yesterday I made it for another party, to celebrate the anniversary of Frances in France. Marvelled that in one short year I had met enough friends to make a whole party. Friends that gladly dressed up as Napoleon, Asterix, the Paris Metro. Friends that danced, drank, ate cake.

Most of my simple pleasures are solitary. My personal bare necessities, carefully thought out one day in a park with a squashed strawberry-thyme tart. Eat when hungry, sleep when tired. Move your body. Be in nature. Discover the new and beautiful. Do what you do. But the final one – the caveat – was to know how to


I don’t believe that you need another half or a constant social circle to properly be. In fact I would like to know how to enjoy myself really, truly, quietly alone first –  to better share my delight later.

But playing tourist in your own city with a guest makes you look around more attentively when you are alone again. Baking for an appreciative crowd reminds you of the pleasure in the act of cooking solo.

I am thoroughly grateful for the people that surround me. The people that wake me up and spin me around. I would not have survived this year without them.

Thank-you, both new and familiar people. Please accept this cake as proof of my gratitude.

*Very much indebted to the Happiness Project for the series  idea

THE Chocolate Cake

200g dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids)

200g butter

170g sugar

5 eggs

100g ground almonds

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease or line a round cake tin.

In a small bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together on a low heat in the microwave. Stir and let cool. In another larger bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture, then the almonds. Mix until just combined. Pour into the tin and tap the tin against the counter to release any air bubbles.

Bake for 20-25 minutes maximum. Leave to cool before cutting into thin slices. Serve alone or with slivers of fruit.

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