For the love of chocolate


Chocoholism might be going too far, but a healthy indulgence is good for you, writes Elaine Lavery

Chocolate. One word never evoked so many feelings. Rich and creamy, chocolate is an indulgent but unparalleled treat, and triggers the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which make us happy. Indeed, chocolate has been said to produce similar feelings experienced by a person ‘in love’. Chocolate also goes hand-in-hand with amore, a box of chocolates traditionally being the perfect gift for a man to give a woman. As a wise man once said “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.” The irony is that when the chips are down, nothing is more consoling than the wondrous luxury of eating a whole box in one sitting; the more expensive, the better.

The health benefits of dark chocolate have garnered much attention. However, once consumed in modest amounts as part of a varied diet, I believe that all chocolate is something that should be enjoyed and appreciated as you like it – be that white, milk or dark. After all, happy people live longer.

With a winter theme in mind, make this delicious cake as a Sunday lunch after dinner treat. It’s a pudding to be enjoyed, warm and with a scoop of real vanilla ice-cream. It is equally charming the next day when the caramel topping has hardened to a toffee-like consistency.

Chocolate Caramel Plum Cake

280g plain flour

185g butter

165g dark muscovado sugar

230g caster sugar

3tbsp cocoa powder

2tsp baking powder

3 eggs, lightly beaten

160ml milk

6 plums stoned & halved

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a loose-bottomed 25cm deep cake tin with baking         parchment.

2. Put the muscovado sugar, 30g of the flour and 75g of the butter in a bowl and rub together to evenly distribute the butter.

3. In a separate bowl sift the remaining flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together.

4. In a third bowl cream the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well between each addition.

5. Add the sifted flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture and carefully mix to a combined batter.

6. Pour the cake batter into the lined tin, arrange the plum halves on top and finish by sprinkling the muscovado mixture over the top.

7. Bake for about sixty minutes, or until firm to the touch.