Sunday 19 February 2012

Cloud Nine Chocolate Lava Cake

Every morning in Air Dingin (which means cold water and is named this because of the waterfall that runs nearby to my mothers house) Faridah serves a selection of fresh fruits, usually papaya and pineapple, and her famous Cloud Nine Chocolate Lava Cake. I call it this because when you eat it's like being on the proverbial cloud nine. In actual fact cloud nine is, according to the International Cloud Atlas scale, the cumulonimbus - that big, heavy grey thunder cloud. Cloud 0 is actually the highest cloud being the cirrus cloud. Now interestingly the cirrus cloud is the only cloud formed entirely of ice and is often formed from  the condensation stream of jet planes. These cirrus clouds help to regulate the earths temperature. When air traffic was suspended after 9/11 daily temperature variations across the US rose by 3 degrees for 48hrs as the cirrus protection shrank, letting more sunlight in by day and more heat out by night. (Lloyd,J. Mitchinson,J.2009. QI Book Of General Ignorance). Now this is where I get to link Cloud Nine to Champagne. I'm not the only one who holds Champagne in high esteem - my dear friend Therese Glasgow and her husband Scott will only drink French Champagne, Chekov's last words were 'I havent had champagne for a long time' . German medical etiquette at the same time held that when there was no hope, the doctor would offer the patient a glass of Champagne. Coco Chanel famously mouthed her last words as 'My only regret is that I didnt drink enough Champagne'. Anyways back to clouds. These are formed by small droplets of water droplets or ice crystals formed by condensate around even particles like smoke or salt called condensation particles. Now what makes Champagne fizz is not CO2 (carbon dioxide) but microscopic particles of dust/dirt/lint in the glass - technically speaking these are condensation nuclei for the carbon dioxide similar to the process involved in cloud formation! Back to Faridahs Cloud Nine Chocolate Lava Cake - the wonderful thing about the chocolate in this is that cocoa fruit has been picked off the tree here in Aceh, the seed pulled out and fermented for a few days, dried then and roasted in the wok, just like the coffee seed. Sometimes Faridah roasts the coffee overly much and then it's like drinking charcoal. Anyways, when she prepares the chocolate, because the cocoa butter isn't extracted from the seed (or bean as we erroneously call it) the finished product is not the powdery cocoa powder we ar used to in the west, but a slightly moist dark mass that looks somewhat like moist soil. Now here is the recipe for Faridahs Cloud Nine Chocolate Lava Cake made with this chocolate: 6 tablespoons of flour 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 1 cup raw sugar 1 cup palm oil 2 cups chocolate 6 eggs 1 tsp vanilla essence natural Beat the eggs, add the sugar and beat well, add in the chocolate, stir in the flour to which the bicarbonate of soda has been added and the oil then bake in a moderate oven (here it is cooked in a bundt cakepan set into a wok covered with a lid, ontop of the small portable gas cooker) but leave it slightly runny-moist in the centre to give it a lava like consistency. (I'm guessing about 35 minutes in an oven set at 175C but I have to test this when I get back to Australia. To get the chocolate a similar consistency in the west I would experiment with 1 cup of cocoa powder, 250gms of dark cooking chocolate and half a cup of raw sugar, scrapping the addition of the cup of raw sugar). Should this recipe actually turn out with our over processed chocolate and electric ovens back in the West, I would recommend you celebrate with a glass of French Champagne!  Actually, even though the grapes-wine for the original Champagne came from the Provence of Champagne in France back in the 1600's, it was actually the English who developed it into the sparkling brew we refer to as Champagne! They imported the green, flat wine from Champagne in barrels, added sugar and molasses to start it fermenting and also developed the strong coal-fired glass bottles and corks to contain it. Méthode Champenoise was first recorded in England in 1662. It was not invented by the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon (1638-1715) who actually spent most of his time trying to remove the bubbles! He did however leave a legacy of skillfully blending grape varieties from different vineyards  and he invented the wire or hempen cage for the cork. In 1876 the French finally Champagne its finesse by perfecting the modern Brut (dry) style and began seriously marketing it (mainly for the English market though).

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