Shame on you! There are children present.
But I know the thought probably crossed your mind, so let’s discuss it.
Last week, millions of women received heart-shaped boxes of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I’m sure Godiva made a fortune, and many romantic evenings ensued. But could any of the 300 identified compounds in chocolate be held responsible?
I already mentioned in my guilty post that chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which makes you feel like you’re falling in love. Chocolate also contains caffeine, another brain stimulant. When you add these two things to chocolate’s so-called benefits as an anti-depressant, stamina builder, blood platelet thinner, anti-inflammatory, tooth decay inhibitor, stress reliever, and cure-all for dysepsia, gout, typhoid fever, dysentery, stomach disorders, chest ailments, tuberculosis, and fatigue — it certainly seems as though chocolate could do just about anything.
In 1624, Johan Franciscus Rauch, a professor in Vienna, condemned chocolate as an inflamer of passions and urged monks not to drink it. Madame du Barry, courtesan and mistress of Louis XV, always served her lovers a cup of chocolat before they entered her bedroom, and of course you may know that both the Marquis de Sade and Cassanova seduced their victims with chocolate.
In 1631, Colmenero de Ledesma wrote that drinking chocolate incited love-making, led to conception in women, and facilitated delivery. Dr. Henry Stubbes (1632-1672), a widely respected and quoted English authority on chocolate, was convinced that chocolate was an aphrodisiac. After all, the Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 cups of chocolate every day before entering his harem. And if it was good enough for Montezuma . . .
Chocolate was worshipped and revered from its early days as a bitter drink spiced with chili peppers in ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, both for its curative and spiritual powers. It wasn’t called “food of the gods” for nothing. After Cortez brought cacao back to Spain, its immense value was kept under wraps for nearly a hundred years. Only Spanish monks knew the recipe for making chocolate and they weren’t telling anybody (those rascals also worked wonders last month with soup).
Then an Italian visited Spain, a Spanish princess with chocolate as part of her dowry married a Frenchman, and chocolate frenzy hit Europe big time. Coffee houses and salons proliferated in France and England, where chocolate became the favored drink of the elite. By this time it was sweeter, smoother, and milkier, thanks to lots of refinement in chocolate making techniques. Chocolate’s status soared, as did its reputation as a great aphrodisiac.
That’s just it. Chocolate has always had a reputation, a mystique, a loyal following. When someone gifts you with chocolate, you are already brimming with anticipation. All the pleasant choco memories of the past flood your thoughts, and even before a molecule of the stuff touches your lips, you’re in la la land. Chocolate’s melting point is the same as human body temperature. Once it reaches your tongue, it excites your taste buds, which then release all kinds of endorphins. No other food in human history has been capable of as much euphoria. It’s emotional, sensual, and totally irresistible. The reaction is the same as it was thousands of years ago, even in its crudest form.
An aphrodisiac? If you want it to be.
In honor of the lunar eclipse last night, here’s something so delish it’ll make you howl at the moon. It’ll take a little time, so consider trying it over the weekend. Lovingly mete out the ingredients, tenderly caress the batter, inhale the choco aroma with all your heart. Fall in love. At precisely midnight.
CHOCOLATE MIDNIGHT CAKE
1 cup butter
2-1/2 cups sugar
4 unbeaten eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 (1-oz) squares Baker’s unsweetened chocolate
1. Melt the chocolate in 1-1/2 cups hot water. Set aside to cool.
2. Cream butter and sugar well. Add eggs and vanilla.
3. Sift dry ingredients 3 times and add to above; stir in melted chocolate.
4. Grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans or a 9″ x 13″ pan.
5. Pour batter in pan(s) and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, then for 10 minutes at 300 degrees.
CHOCOLATE MIDNIGHT FROSTING
2 (1-oz) squares Bakers chocolate
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 T cornstarch
Melt chocolate in 1-1/2 cups hot water, add sugar and salt. Mix cornstarch with a little water to make a thin paste, then whisk into the chocolate mixture. Stir gently over low heat, if necessary, until mixture thickens. Cool thoroughly.
OPTIONAL: Make a box of Jello instant vanilla pudding to spread between cake layers before applying frosting over the whole. If using 9″x13″ pan, remove cooled cake from the pan, then carefully slice through entire cake crosswise, and spread pudding over cut surface before reassembling and frosting the whole.
NOTE: The frosting will be glossy and softish — not stiff enough to make peaks like canned, prepared frosting. Cook and thicken it to spreadable consistency.
TIPS: For a total death by chocolate experience, wear black and consume with 50 cups of coffee, tea, or milk.
“Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.” ~ Anonymous