I learnt to say “I love chocolate” long before I began to say “I love cake”.
Chocolate was the cheeky treat I’d give myself as a kid, climbing unstable chairs to reach the kitchen cupboard, where my mother stashed a tub of chocolate spread I was only allowed to eat with her permission. I’d then rub it in heavenly spoonfuls on any piece of bread I could find, no matter how fresh or stale, and savour every forbidden mouthful.
Chocolate had a place of its own in my culinary education. A lifelong milk chocolate lover, I learnt to appreciate dark chocolate well into my twenties; out of the blue, I stopped wincing in disgust at its sharp bitterness, and started craving more and more of it, as if making up for lost time. One day I was shunning dark chocolate like a vampire shuns the sunlight; the next day I simply couldn’t be without it. Whatever triggered the epiphany, certainly changed my life for the better.
Back home, my mother stocks up on heaps of Lindt chocolate every Christmas and Easter, without fail. Bloody family turf wars ensue: I fight to keep my coveted red Lindor pralines away from my father’s greedy paws, while my mother wages war on me for eating the blue ones she wants for herself. White chocolates always remain, unpicked, at the bottom of the pot – but even those never last too long, when my gluttonous dad is around.
Yes, I love chocolate – and more even than egglets and pralines, I love treating myself to chocolate bakes. My favourite recipes are the ones that feature chocolate as the uncontested queen, with little other ingredients or flavours standing in the way; the ones that make me feel as if I was chewing on all the 70% dark truffles I can fit in my mouth, heedless to the mighty sugar coma waiting to happen.
Unsurprisingly enough, melted chocolate is one of my favourite baking ingredients. Cocoa powder never quite did the trick for me; always a tad too bland, always used too scantily in recipes that would call for twice or thrice the amount. Bree Hester’s chocolate and yoghurt cake recipe changed my mind: who knew that cocoa powder alone could create such a richly flavoured batter? Have a whole slice, and you’ll feel compelled to surrender to that blissful “death by chocolate” sensation; have half a slice and you’ll feel content, hungry for more but sated enough to save the rest for later (or share it with a crowd of chocolate lovers, equally eager to get their hands dirty with spongy crumb and sticky glaze).
Bree’s recipe lent itself well to a few tweaks. I reduced the amount of sugar, so the taste of chocolate could come out in all its loveliness, and replaced vanilla with rum essence to create a bolder flavour. The sliced almonds on top are a finishing touch of mine: a light brushing of colour, breaking the monotony of the big dark brown mountain. I could go on for hours about the pleasure of dipping a cheeky finger in the raw batter, or tasting the silky, boozy glaze directly from the spoon, but I’ll leave the final judgement to you. My guess? You’ll love this loaf if you’re a cheeky bowl licker; if your willpower is strong enough to resist until the last drop of glaze has set, you’ll love it even more.
Boozy Chocolate and Yoghurt Loaf
(makes around 10 – 14 slices)
For the loaf:
- 200g flour
- 75g cocoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 170g 0% fat Greek yoghurt
- 80ml cold water
- 1 teaspoon rum flavouring
- 75g butter
- 200g sugar
- 2 eggs
For the glaze:
- 150g icing sugar
- 75g cocoa
- 50 – 100ml cold water
- 1 teaspoon rum flavouring (use 1/2 teaspoon if you want it more chocolatey and less boozy)
- A handful sliced almonds, to decorate
Recipe (adapted from Baked Bree’s Chocolate Yogurt Cake recipe)
Prepare the loaf:
- Mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together yoghurt, water and rum flavouring.
- In a third bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, using a hand mixer or a whisk.
- Add the eggs one at a time, and keep whisking until combined.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl with the butter, sugar and egg mix. Whisk until combined, using a hand mixer or metal spoon.
- Add the yoghurt mixture, and keep mixing well.
- Add the remaining flour, and whisk until just combined.
- Line a loaf tin with baking paper; pour in the batter, and even it out with a metal spoon.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°, and bake for 45 – 50 minutes (or up to one hour, depending on your oven).
- Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool down for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the tin, and leave aside again. Gently remove the baking paper when the cake is only slightly warm or completely cool.
Prepare the glaze:
- Whisk together the icing sugar, cocoa, water and rum flavouring. Start with 50ml water, then gradually add more, until you feel you have achieved the right balance of creamy and runny.
- Pour the glaze over the cooled cake, sprinkle with sliced almonds, and leave aside until set. The glaze will only slightly firm up, maintaining a soft, gooey texture over time, so prepare for a messy eat!