It is officially Chocolate Week in the United Kingdom. Although it's a transparent ploy by food retailers to get people to purchase even more of their goods, I succumbed to the mania and made this simple, flourless, cinnamon chocolate cake.
The word chocolate comes from the Nahuatl word xocolatl, meaning "bitter water". The Aztecs and Mayans both associated chocolate with fertility, which is not dissimilar from our current associations of chocolate with sex and love (think Valentine's Day). New research shows that the Olmecs were the first to cultivate chocolate. These cultures consumed chocolate exclusively as a drink, often mixing it with chilli, vanilla and spices. Cocoa beans were also used as currency.
Like many products from the New World, the chocolate industry flourished through colonialism and slavery. Spanish colonizers introduced chocolate as a luxury for their monarch, and it was later used by the Catholic Church and the Spanish aristocracy. It was a hundred years before chocolate became popular elsewhere in Europe.
With the invention of the cocoa press, chocolate became a good for broad consumption. It was widely produced as a powder and paste, and was noted for many medical purposes including improving digestion, stimulating the nervous system, and encouraging breast milk production. In 1847 Fry's chocolate factory in Bristol, England produced the first chocolate bar for general consumption.
This cake takes inspiration from modern Mexican chocolate, which is a mixture of bitter chocolate, sugar, cinnamon and sometimes nuts. It is extremely rich and dense, and is an ideal post-dinner dessert. It can be served with whipped cream, ice cream, yogurt (or Greek yogurt, which is thicker), sour cream or crème fraîche.
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
confectioner's sugar and cocoa for dusting (optional)
- Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave or on the stove top over very low heat. Make sure not to burn the chocolate. Allow the mixture to cool while you prepare the cake.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and line a springform pan (9 or 10 inches in diameter) with wax or parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
- Add the butter/chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool to room temperature. This cake can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to one week. Bring back to room temperature before serving. Dust with confectioner's sugar and/or cocoa before serving. Serve with some sort of cream or yogurt, and dust with cinnamon.