(Mr Pomo warns: Includes references to poo.)
This is a committed one. Really, really deep. Life-long, practically. It’s a relationship that is not good for me; the type my mother warned me against. She said, “Avoid the toxic ones” and she said “Be careful of addiction. It’s dangerous.” And of course, she was right. She’s my mother after all, and she knows. This relationship is one I can largely control, but at certain points, I lose it and fall right back in. My husband knows about it, and swears I prefer it to him. He’s wrong, but there’s nothing like swimming against a tide to weaken an addict’s resolve. And this time of year is the most dangerous of all, because it’s less of a tide and more of a tsunami.
I’m not talking red wine here, either. I have to ‘fess up to the rather girly stereotype of being a chocolate addict. “Chocolate” was my nickname at school, and certain friends still call me “Choc”. Worse still, I had a boyfriend who called me “Poo” (sickening, I know, he also gave me fluffy toys which is why that one didn’t last), so for at least two years I was also called “Chocolate Poo”. You would have thought that would have been enough to put me off, but no.
Largely, I manage to restrict myself to a small amount of chocolate every few days, if I’m being astonishingly controlled. But like any addict, one trigger and I’m off and running. Here’s the thing – I’ve just been triggered. In our town, there’s a tea and chocolate shop. It’s been open for a year. I have NEVER been into it, because I know it is very dangerous territory for me. However, my mother-in-law has been visiting, and, in order to source some of her favourite brand of green tea we wandered in. We purchased tea and two bars of chocolate – beautiful dark chocolate, one studded with grilled almonds, the other with orange peel. We shared the chocolate over a period of a couple of days. Then we went to some outlet shops near Stuttgart, and while MIL bought sensible things like tank tops and T-shirts, I found the Lindt factory shop and did the Lindt pick ‘n mix. Small but lethal.
Now that retailers have decided it’s officially Christmas, chocolate is bloody everywhere. Since my MIL left (yesterday), I have purchased two more bars and eaten one and a half thereof. I’m sinking fast, sinking into chocolate oblivion. It’s got to stop. There are seven weeks till Christmas. I can’t carry on. Every shop I go into has twinkling displays of foil-wrapped chocolate delights. My favourites – the Milka marzipan bar, the Lindt cinnamon and coriander Christmas special – are in every supermarket. Which ever way I turn, there they are, winking at me.
And so today, I staged a chocfest of my very own, which hopefully should get it right out of my system. It’s been a binge, from which I will wake up tomorrow older, wiser and ready to start afresh. I have inherited the world’s best chocolate cake recipe from my mother. It’s stunningly easy to make and fudgily delicious to eat. I doubled the recipe and make 42 chocolate fudge muffins. I enjoyed the gloopy mixing and stirring, the pouring and the melting. I enjoyed the icing and the decorating. I allowed myself the full delight of spoon licking.
But don’t fear, gentle readers, I haven’t eaten the lot. Twenty-five have gone into Tupperware for a festival at kindergarten tomorrow evening, six went in the stomachs of children for afternoon tea, one went into me. The remaining ten are sitting on the cake stand, waiting for me to wake two little girls tonight for a surprise midnight feast. The menu is muffins and hot chocolate (possibly also wine for Mama). Thereafter, I call this latest binge to an end. I draw a line. I wait. I rest. At least till Christmas.
Granny Toni’s Easy and Astonishingly Fudgy Chocolate Cake:
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup best cocoa
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup buttermilk (this is the key to the fudge)
1 tsp baking powder
- Set oven to 180 degrees
- Grease and line cake tin
- In a large saucepan, boil butter, water, oil and cocoa
- Take pan off heat, add sifted flour and sugar
- To the this mixture, add the two beaten eggs
- Add vanilla, baking powder and buttermilk
- Pour into tin and bake
It should be ready after 30 minutes. Start testing from 20. Sometimes it can take up to 50. There’s no knowing, but put in a skewer (a piece of spaghetti will do) and when it comes out clean, it’s ready. While it’s baking, mix the following ingredients together to make an icing which you pour over the hot cake:
2 tbsps best cocoa
2 and 1/2 tbsps buttermilk
1 and 1/2 cups icing sugar
(Apologies to American readers for the metric weights and Celsius temperatures.)