Happy National Chocolate Cake Day
Updated: Feb 13
Each year, 27 January is observed as "National Chocolate Cake Day" in North America. It honours the approximately 250+ years this delicious treat has been a staple of civilisation. Therefore, today is the perfect day to learn about chocolate cake and to enjoy this decadent treat. There's no need to celebrate a birthday or anniversary to enjoy some.
Contrary to popular belief, chocolate cake hasn't actually been around since the dawn of civilisation. Although it is true that the Aztecs invented chocolate over 3,000 years ago and that the ancient Egyptians were the first to bake cakes, the two inventions are not related.
The modern history of chocolate cake in North America, first dates back to 1764, when Dr. James Baker discovered how to make chocolate by grinding cocoa beans between two massive circular millstones. However, this process was time-consuming and labor-intensive.
It wasn't until 1828 when the truly modern era of chocolate production officially began in Europe. A Dutch man, by the name of Coenraad Van Houten patented his technique for separating cocoa butter from processed cacao, leaving a powdered chocolate. Consequently, and very happily, cocoa and chocolate became more accessible to a wider audience.
Eliza Leslie, frequently referred to as Miss Leslie, was an American author of popular cookbooks during the nineteenth century. She also wrote household management books, etiquette books, novels, short stories and articles for magazines and newspapers. In 1847 she wrote one of the earliest chocolate cake recipes in "The Lady's Receipt Book". However, it wasn't until roughly the 1880s that North American homes actually started adding cocoa into their cakes.
The first packaged cake mix was developed around this time by Pittsburgh-based P. Duff and Sons. They would go on to develop the first "Devil's Food" boxed cake mix during the 1930s. Regrettably though, they had to put it on hold because of rationing during World War II. After the war, General Mills and Duncan Hines dominated the market with their cake mixes. At this point, the popularity of chocolate cake in America had started to soar.
Nobody truly knows when the holiday called "National Chocolate Cake Day" first appeared. But as time goes on, it's a holiday that's gaining popularity throughout the world. Why wouldn't it? Chocolate cake is, after all, marvellously delicious.
To celebrate this year, and for something different, I thought about pairing chocolate cake with dry red wine.
I am happily spending the majority of winter this year in Morocco. It is here where I discovered this intriguing 100% old vine Carignan red wine, by Les Celliers De Meknès simply named "Beauvallon Rouge", rated 3.6 out of 5 on the Vivino App.
This wine, however, REALLY needs time to breathe. Since I lacked a decanter where I am staying, I simply left the bottle open after pouring a small amount out to sample. This wine truly did not begin to open up and reveal its best flavour profile until the second day after opening. I'm so pleased I didn't pour it down the drain after my first tasting it, as it now ranks among my favourite Moroccan reds.
The back label reads, "Beauvillon Rouge accompagnera à merveille des desserts chocolatés." (Beauvillon Rouge will go wonderfully with chocolate desserts.) So I decided to put it to the test.
I have to admit I was a little hesitant because upon first taste the tannins in this wine were excessively astringent, complete with rather unpleasant herbaceous flavours. But to my utter delight, after two days of being open, LOL, it paired perfectly with this rich and delicious Chocolate Gâteau.
I purchased the gâteau at one of the many wonderful local pastry shops in Agadir, Morocco, which are perilously close to my front door.
Happy Travels & Happy Tastings!
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