09 February 2007

Chocolate Overload (NOT!)

Last weekend I went to a fabulous women's retreat. Our organizer is the queen of hospitality; She made sure that there was plenty of rich, luscious choclate for everyone. I had been dieting up to that point, but I really needed to let down a bit for the retreat, so I did. So I REALLY did! I needed it after my very stressful and late arrival at the resort.

This little resort was selected because it was:

A) Owned by members of our church
B) Reasonably priced
C) Had (reportedly) fabulous food
D) Had the requisite hot tub, indoor pool, and sauna
E) Was local

It was this last point that caused most of the attendees difficulty. Because it WAS local, none of us consulted maps or asked any questions. We all foolishly assumed that little handwritten map on the back of the brochure would lead us straight to it. We were chumps! Every woman I asked, except for one, got lost on the way to the resort. I, however, took the prize as the most misplaced, displaced, and sad-faced.

Theoretically, I could have left my house and arrived at the camp 22 minutes later. Instead, I was STILL trying to locate the correct blankety-blank back roads over an hour after kissing my hubby and kids good-bye. It was dark and I couldn't read the blankety-blank roadsigns (when there WERE road signs) and I was running low on gas and I was, in case you couldn't tell, developing a very ugly attitude. This was most unfortunate because I was supposed to be speaking to these women the next day!

Finally, I found the right road. It was pitch black, hilly and twisty, and only sort-of plowed. Lovely. I was looking desperately for the house number - #96 - but I couldn't read ANY of the numbers, even with my high beams. Fortunately I was driving slowly because quite suddenly my way was barred by a rope slung across the road and the words PRIVATE PROPERTY and a number - #99. I had passed the balnkety-blank resort!

Muttering under my breath and trying to pray through my irritation (not very successfully, I might add), I tried to back up to turn around. The front of my van got caught in the unplowed snow and slung the front end sideways so that I was facing down an unplowed dirt road in the wrong direction. Attempts to back out were futile; I was stuck!

I shut off my blankety-blank van, zipped up my blankety-blank coat, and started walking down the blankety-blank road the way I had come. I figured the blankety-blank resort had to be back there somewhere and if I walked long enough I'd find it.

That's when I finally stopped steaming and stewing long enough for God to start talking. With each step He reminded me that He was in control. Most of our days here the past feww weeks have been sub-zero, but this particular night the temps were in the 30's. There was no wind to chill me, and although it had seemed dreadfully dark when I was driving, I could see fine while walking because the moonlight was filtering through the clouds. A snow storm had been predicted, but it had not started yet. In short, I was just fine, so I needed to quit my whining!

The resort ended up being about a mile and half from my van, but I was much calmer by the time I finally got there. The resort dude was very sweet and was able to pull my van out with no trouble at all. So all's well as ends well!

But, even though I had had time to pray and breathe, I was still in need of some TLC. The other women gave me hugs and our hostess gave me chocolate. Oh yes, LOTS of chocolate! And it helped, it really did. Music may soothe the savage beast, but it is chocolate that soothes the savage Groovy!

I ate chocolate in abundance: Chocolate truffles, chocolate cookies with kisses encased inside, chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. So that I would not slip into the horrific mode of worshipping the creature instead of the creator, I made a point of continually thanking God for His gracious provision of chocolate!

And for the first time in my entire life I actually hit my chocolate threshold. I did not even know this was possible, but I ate so much excellent chocolate that I literally could not eat one bite more.

But I'm over it now...Oh yes I am. That's why I've answered This Challenge to give you a couple of my favorite recipes for chocolate goodies. May you all enjoy and may you too experience the joy of reaching your chocolate threshold!


Incredible Chocolate Almond Cake

Serves 8-10

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
9 ounces Sweet German chocolate, melted
2 and 1/3 cups ground almonds
4 large eggs, separated
4 ounces white choclate, melted to decorate

Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a deep 8 and 1/2 inch springform pan, then line it with wax paper and grease again. It looks especiall pretty if you use a heart-shaped springform pan!

Place 1/2 cup butter and all the sugar in a mixing bowl and beat 'til light and fluffy. Add two-thirds of the sweet chocolate (6 ounces), the almonds and the egg yolks. Beat together until well blended.

Whip the egg whites in a separate clean, dry bowl until stiff (Groovy Tip: Room temp egg whites beat easier and higher than cold ones.) Fold them into the chocolate mixture, then turn the better into the prepared pan. Smooth the top.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack. Peel off the wax paper and allow the cake to cool completely.

In the meantime, place the remaining sweet chocolate and butter in a saucepan together. Heat on low and stir constantly until melted and blended well. Now drizzle over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. (Put wax paper under the cooling rack to catch any drips.)

Once that sets, you can use a piping bag (or a strong baggie with the corner snipped off) to top the cake with swirly white chocolate designs.

This is very rich and VERY yummy. Enjoy!

Groovy's Wicked Good Chocolate Cake

1 and 3/4 cups four
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong coffee (instant is fine)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup salad oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350º F. Heavily grease either two 9-inch round pans or one 9x13-inch pan.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk the wet ingredients togeher in another bowl. Once they are combined, stir them into the dry ingredients.

Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. (The batter will be quite thin.)

Pour into pan(s). Bake 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and cake pulls away from sides of pan.

Cool in pan(s) for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely on wire racks.

Wicked Good Dark Chocolate Frosting

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 pound confectioner's sugar

Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool. (If you try to work with it while it's hot, you will get VERY frustrated, so let it cool completely!)

Add the milk, vanilla, and salt to the sugar in a medium bowl. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture until thick enough to spread. If you can't get it to thicken up, then put it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so (It's worth the wait!).

Fill and frost your wicked good cake.

If you have any frosting left over, hide it from your husband and kids and enjoy it later as delicious fudge!


Annie said...

Great recipes, thanks so much! I can't wait to try this.
Have a great Friday.

FamilySnows said...

Delicous....sweet German chocolate mmmm....and the dark chocolate is sure to be loaded with antioxidants making it not so wicked!!

Fun recipes, thanks for sharing!

Overwhelmed! said...

I'm with you, there's no such thing as chocolate overload in my books! :) Anyone wanting to get on my good side has only to present me with chocolate. :)

I love that you included 2 cake recipes and a frosting recipe in your post! Thanks.

Thanks so much for participating in my Favorite Ingredients Friday- Valentine’s Day chocolate edition recipe exchange. I’m having so much fun with this one!

Ms. Kathleen said...

Oh Groovy I just had to laugh at your story and I wonder if that is how women sometimes feel when they come to our retreat center/camp ground - out in the middle of nowhwere


- I am so happy you enjoyed yourself and all that wonderful chocolate. The last retreat we actually did we had a chocolate fountain fondue! Now that was yummy!


Rae said...

I'm happy you found your way safely to the resort & all went well! These recipes look fantastic, thank you for sharing them! Happy Valentine's Day! =)

Carole Burant said...

Oh Groovy...only to you would getting lost and stuck like that happen! lol You poor dear...glad to see that it all ended well though and that you managed to drown your sorrows in all that chocolate! hehe

The recipes sound soooo good! I can feel my clothes shrinking on me already when I start trying out all those chocolate recipes I've copied down today!!!

Hugs xox

Unknown said...

These sound wonderful. Thanks!

Karen said...

Hey Lady!

Glad you had a wonderful time at the retreat. You know, even the walk sounded lovely... sorry, there's just something about solitude that is a bit alluring to me. Ok, the being LOST while wandering...yeah, not so much fun.

I've hit "the chocolate wall" a couple times myself. It actually took me a full week before I could even look at a piece of chocolate without nearly gagging.

Another chocolate note, a friend of mine made some chocolate zucchini bread. It smelled so good, and she gave me a lovely large piece. Too bad she forgot to put any (or enough) sugar into the batter. Excellent fragrance, just no taste at all. They did make nice room deodorizers.

Ballpoint Wren said...

Yowza! A mile-and-a-half in 30 degrees? I really am a wuss. I'm glad you made it safely. And thank goodness for the healing properties of chocolate!