Portland bean-to-bar maker Woodblock announced that 24 January will be the date when it holds the championship of chocolate chomping. Possibly a world record may be at stake.
As a public service (?) for potential contestants they posted training videos
It seems undoubtedly a good publicity stunt, but a contest that celebrates cacao quantity over quality does beg the question: can anyone eat too much chocolate? “Too much chocolate” might make for a cute cookie advertisement, but it’s also pretty much an absolute truth that too much of anything kills the enjoyment, and in this case also can threaten the overindulger’shealth. To unbeg the question: yes, it is possible — as well as stupid — to eat too much chocolate.
Oddly, people brag about their overindulgence. There is even a recipe jetsamming about internet seas for Too Much Chocolate Cake that has as its base a pre-mixed devil’s food cake recipe, raising with flares an objection including the irony of there not being enough real chocolate in the TMCC.
Obviously, the Chocolate Chomping Champion will have bragging rights, but those rights come with an overly eerily similar to the fish from Spongebob who really, really, really gets excited that chocolate bars are for sale:
Perhaps there should be a contest to discover how much is the right amount of chocolate to eat, to find that moment immediately prior to eating too much. Maybe it has something to do with types of chocolate or percentages.
FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE DAY we face a why? Austrian and pastry icon Franz Sacher (1816-1907) was born Dec. 19, and yet it is today, the fifth, which has been declared the day to celebrate his most famous contribution: HAPPY NATIONAL SACHERTORTE DAY!
But we digress. (Again… and again.) Today is a new day to celebrate so please do stop in for a quick sit and a chat buttressed by a small espresso and slice of our version of the delectable that helps make Vienna what it is. Emerging from the haze of culinary history, the tale of the cake’s origin is myth-like in that it was a 16-year-old Jewish apprentice, Franz Sacher, who responded to Austrian state chancellor Prince Metternich’s “request” for an original dessert when the head chef was missing from the kitchen. His creation, what would come to be named the Sachertorte, is a light, two spongey layers of dark chocolate cake separated by a schmear of apricot preserves, all covered with a thin veneer of bittersweet chocolate icing and (usually) served with a mega-dollop of whipped cream.
Franz’s son, Eduard, opened the Hotel Sacher in 1872 Vienna featuring the signature dessert. (In 1998 the hotel created a sachertorte a Guinness World Record diameter wider than seven feet.) Eduard’s son, Franz Jr., sold the recipe and instigated years of claims, counterclaims, legal proceedings and out-of-court boastings. Pretty much every Viennese coffee house has its own version and YouTube even provides a sachertorte channel.
Despite reveling in the spirit of the day we’re not ready to share our recipe. However, as a hint to our secret we will admit inspiration while reading reading Rick Rodgers’ 2002 celebration of desserts, KaffeehausKaffeehaus and his ST recipe gets its online day in the sun at epicurious.com.
4 1/2 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate or, finely chopped
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour (spoon gently into cup and level top)
Apricot Filling Ingredients
1 1/4 cups apricot preserves
2 tablespoons golden rum or water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
6 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Whipped Cream Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper. Dust the sides of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
2. In the top part of a double boiler over very hot, but not simmering, water, or in a microwave at medium power, melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat or the oven, and let stand, stirring often, until cool.
3. Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty standing mixer fitted with the paddle blade on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. On low speed, beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Return the speed to medium-high and beat until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the chocolate and vanilla.
4. Beat the egg whites and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer on high speed just until they form soft, shiny peaks. Do not overbeat. Stir about one fourth of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites, leaving a few visible wisps of whites. Sift half of the flour over the chocolate mixture, and fold in with a large balloon whisk or rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining flour.
5. Spread evenly in the pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. (The cake will dome in the center.) Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan, and invert the cake onto the rack. Remove the paper and reinvert on another rack to turn right side up. Cool completely.
6. To assemble: Using a long serrated knife, trim the top of the cake to make it level. Cut the cake horizontally into two equal layers. Place one cake layer on an 8-inch cardboard round. Brush the top of the cake layer with the apricot glaze. Place the second cake layer on top and brush again. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining glaze. Transfer the cake to a wire rack placed over a jelly-roll pan lined with waxed paper. Let cool until the glaze is set.
7. Make the chocolate glaze (it must be freshly made and warm). Pour all of the warm chocolate glaze on top of the cake. Using a metal offset spatula, gently smooth the glaze over the cake, allowing it to run down the sides, being sure that the glaze completely coats the cake (patch any bare spots with the spatula and the icing that has dripped). Cool until the glaze is barely set, then transfer the cake to a serving plate. Refrigerate until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour. Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving.
8. To serve, slice with a sharp knife dipped into hot water. Serve with a large dollop of whipped cream on the side.
Whipped Cream Preparation
Pour the cream into a well-chilled bowl and add the sugar and vanilla. Using an electric hand mixer or balloon whisk, beat the cream to the desired consistency. For soft peaks, the cream will be just thick enough to hold its shape in soft billows. For stiffly beaten cream, the beaters or whisk wires will leave distinct traces on the cream and stand in firm peaks when the beaters are lifted.
The cream can be whipped up to 1 day ahead, covered tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerated. If liquid separates from the cream, whip it again to incorporate the liquid.
Chocolate Icing Preparation
1. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan (no larger than 2 quarts, or the mixture will reduce too rapidly and burn before it reaches the correct temperature) over high heat, bring the sugar, water, and chocolate to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring, until the mixture reaches 234°F., about 5 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and stir to cool and thicken slightly, about 1 minute. Use immediately. When pouring, do not scrape the pan.
Small batch chocolate glaze: Use 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, and 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate. Make the glaze in a small saucepan.
Apricot Filling Preparation
Bring the preserves and rum to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Cook, stirring often, until the last drops that cling to the spoon are very sticky and reluctant to leave the spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain through a wire sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on the solids. Spread while still warm.
Even in chocolate, where one almost always wants more, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Also, you can’t judge a chocolate by its cute or clever appearance.
Those are the lessons to be learned as we take in the wonder of a ridiculously long chocolate choo-choo that if life were really just would be delicious. The candy engineering efforts of Maltese-born “chocolate artist” Andrew Farrugia are on display in the Brussels, Belgium, station of his ton-and-a-half, 112-foot long chocolate train — which, thanks to the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records is now officially also the longest chocolate structure, as well as longest chocolate train and probably winner of a host of other made up choco-categories.
The train’s unveiling was the kickoff to Brussels Chocolate Week … in case you want to make some quick post-Thanksgiving, Black Friday travel plans and take a look as well at Farrugia’s “chocolate piano” (obviously not including keyboard and other key playing parts since it will be used by musicians tapping out everything from jazz to classical ditties.)
Of course, nobody uses the finest cacao and supporting ingredients when building a train and in all the hype of the sculptural, record-setting feat there is no mention of gustatory pleasure. So while we have our doubts about the joys of chomping on the choo-choo, we’re confident of finding many other mouth-sensations while in-country thanks to Swiss-émigrée Jean Neuhaus and his Flemish and Walloon compadres. Go Belg!
The best news is that the chocolate temple will be destroyed 21 December 2012, in keeping with the Mayan calendars “end of time.” The worst news is that thousands of pounds of cacao beans suffered the loss of their innards in a publicity stunt that will thrill no tongue.
In the middle are the facts. To celebrate their 30th anniversary, California’s Qzina Specialty Foods created an 18,000+ pound, 1/30th scale chocolate model of a Mayan temple. Doing so broke the Guinness World Record for the largest chocolate sculpture — a 10,700+ lb sculpture from Italy’s Mirco Della Vecchia, but did not threaten the world record for tallest religious chocolate sculpture, an honor continuing to be held by with a 32+ foot “Christmas tree” from Patrick Roger in Sceaux, France.
Intriguingly — and a great way to keep the publicity machine flowing — Qzina announced they haven’t determined the path of the temple’s destruction.