Where did it come from?
Chocolate cakes are up there as possibly the most popular cake in the UK, and the world. It might be in part because chocolate releases endorphins when we eat it. But also, it just combines well with cake batter, although challenging at times, to create this popular cake flavour.
How did it become such a popular choice of cake? Well, if we look in the history books, we need to go back quite far to discover the history of chocolate cake. It can be traced back as far as the Aztecs and Mayans of Mexico and Central America, where they consumed a bitter beverage made from roasted cocoa beans.
Cocoa beans are the starting place of chocolate in general, and they’re not really how we imagine chocolate is formed. They are large American football-shaped pods which grow on the trunk of a tree and from larger branches. Each cacao tree produces an average of 30-40 pods a year which are typically harvested two times a year. Inside the pod are the cocoa beans which are shaped like almonds, surrounded by a sweet white fleshy pulp.
To create chocolate as we know and love, the cocoa seeds need to be fermented, the seeds are then dried, cleaned and roasted. Once the shell is removed it reveals cocoa nibs inside which are ground down to create cocoa mass which is chocolate in its pure rough form. Then there’s a process of separating the cocoa from the cocoa butter, and other ingredients, such as milk and sugar are then added to create the chocolate liquor. Finally, conching machines knead the chocolate paste to help the chocolate develop its flavour and texture. When you boil it down, the art of chocolate making is quite complex to give us one of our favourite sweet treats. (chocolatemonthclub.com/the-chocolate-making-process)
The first known chocolate cake recipe was published in the 18th century in Europe, where chocolate was becoming more widely available and popular. Chocolate cakes were initially considered a luxury item, as chocolate was expensive and only available to the wealthy. However, with the introduction of mass production techniques in the 19th century, chocolate became more affordable and chocolate cake became more widespread.
One of the most famous chocolate cake recipes is the German chocolate cake, which was invented in the mid-19th century by Samuel German, a baker from the United States. German chocolate cake features a rich chocolate cake base, with caramel and pecan, as well as coconut.
The British version of the chocolate cake is more simplistic, with a chocolate sponge base, and quite often a simple chocolate buttercream made by mixing cocoa powder with a basic buttercream, or some will melt chocolate, cool it down, and add it to buttercream to create a richer chocolate flavour.
Over-time chocolate cakes have evolved, so we have variations to what a chocolate cake will be for different people. Each country has their own version of chocolate cakes too.
Another chocolate cake variation which is quite popular is a chocolate fudge cake. The sponge tends to be lighter and moister than a traditional chocolate cake, and the chocolate fudge icing takes a bit more effort to create than a traditional buttercream. With chocolate fudge icing, you start by melting butter, once melted cocoa powder is added, creating a paste (we don’t recommend tasting it at this stage unless you are a fan of bitter chocolate). The paste is then transferred into a mixing bowl and the icing is created by alternating the addition of icing sugar and milk, then the icing is beaten for a further five minutes to create a smooth fudge icing.
Chocolate cake creations are becoming more popular, as we explained above there are lots of variations, so there is a demand out there for the products. There are also cakes that add extra chocolate elements to the cake, such as our pinata cake, which is covered in chocolate flakes on the outside and has chocolate beans in the centre for an extra surprise.
The evolution of chocolate has accelerated enormously as it has become more widely available and with technological advances, making chocolate create more accessible for more people. It’s no wonder that there are so many options when it comes to chocolate cake and why they are one of the most popular choices for celebration cakes.
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