Thursday, November 10, 2011

Easy Chocolate

I fear that too often this blog becomes just a long litany of the things I find wrong with the Netherlands.  It's true that I do tend to write when I'm upset about something.  Take yesterday, when I came home crying after three teenagers laughed at me.  I was walking behind them on my way home from the store when one of the girls tossed her empty energy drink can into the bushes.  (What is it with those energy drinks?)  I'd like to think that most people would say something when confronted with such a blatant act of littering, and I did.  Maybe my Dutch sounded terrible, or maybe they were just assholes.  Either way, they looked at me laughed in my face and just kept walking.  I did tell them in English that they were assholes as I walked past them, and I'm not sure they understood me.  I'm not sure why I let three teenagers get under my skin, but I cried about it off and on for a good hour.

It was nothing that a bout of baking couldn't fix, which is the reason I found myself going to the store in the first place.  My brother-in-law and his girlfriend were coming to dinner, and it was high time for me to get back into the kitchen and dust off those baking skills of mine.  I picked a nice and easy chocolate cake for our mid-week meal, one that didn't even involve melting chocolate.  The recipe didn't even need a mixer, just two bowls and a box of really good cocoa powder.  In the world of chocolate, I know the Belgians get top billing, but when you think of cocoa, you really have to go to the Dutch--all because of that famous "Dutch process" some inventive nineteenth century Dutchman came up with.  I took Niek at his word a few years ago when he told me the Dutch were the largest exporters of cocoa in the world.  Apparently, the Dutch really are that important when it comes to moving cocoa all over the world (with 25 percent of the world market), although I hope they thank their growers in West Africa.  (If you're bored, you can check out this study done on the demand for Nigerian cocoa in the Dutch market.  So many Dutch companies tied up in the economic developments of that country.)  This is all to say that it's easy to find good cocoa here, easier even than in the States.  Also, I love the packaging.  Check out the sweet looking nurse on the front of the Droste box:
Full disclosure: I ended up using the last of the fancy cocoa from Fassbender & Rausch, which is not Dutch process cocoa.  It felt so great to make a cake again.  It was an easy three layer cake, and I think prepping the cake tins took longer than mixing the batter.
My assistant was less than helpful.
The baking time should have been twenty-five minutes, but it ended up taking three times that long thanks to my tiny oven.  It really is a pain to bake only one layer at a time.  I should be grateful that we have an oven, since landlord's aren't required to provide one.  I think it turned out well in the end.


  1. As odd as it seems to me, my brothers have had to vacuum the dust out of their ovens whenever they've moved. I'm spending Thanksgiving with them; guess who's cooking???