>Death by Chocolate is a dessert everyone should have in their repetoire. At least if you like chocolate. It is the height of… chocolatiness, and there’s really nothing else to be said.
Valentine’s Day has always been a good time to whip out this recipe. I’ve tried on other occasions, but it just seems out of place- like a Christmas sweater at a bar mitzvah.
According to this site, a Kiwi came up with the recipe in the early ’90’s, which doesn’t surprise me- this is the country that invented Pavlovas and something called Hokey Pokey and may be partially responsible for the monstrosity that is Vegemite.
Anywho, I got my recipe in the 90’s as well. It came in an issue of Seventeen magazine- one of their Valentine’s Day issues that promised that anyone of the chocolate-y treats contained therein would reduce your boyfriend to a quivering lump. Nowadays it would lead to other things, but back then we were a tad more chaste. And silly enough to believe that cooking for a boy would make him love us. But I digress.
Flash back to summer ’94 and post-high school graduation room cleaning: I’m heading to college and want to take a cookbook with me, however Mom is being mean and won’t part with her copy of McCall’s or Better Homes & Gardens and nothing else looks good. So I start sorting through my magazine pile.
I have always loved magazines. I used to have a fantastic collection of Entertainment Weeklys and Premieres (I love movies too!).
I grab a pair of scissors and start sorting through my pile of Seventeens and run across the Valentine’s issue. There they are: Hopelessly Devoted Dream Bars, Chocolate Almond Crunch, Meringue Kisses, Rocky Road Bites, Baby Cakes (yikes!) and Sweet Death Cake. I collage the recipes up, put them in a binder and hike them along.
The recipe gets used several times, always on Valentine’s Day or a winter birthday, and is quite a hit. It doesn’t get me a guy for longer than it takes to devour the stuff. Still, I like the recipe and enjoy the notoriety that comes with bringing the cake to a party. There are never leftovers.
So I hike the binder with me to Japan. And again, it is loved- albeit in smaller quantities as the recipe requires refrigerations and fridges there are small. And people don’t like to eat too much sweet stuff. I leave the cookbook and an oven with a dear friend before moving back to the States in ’01.
Four years later, I am in the home of the dear friend’s sister in Manhattan. Vonnie is going through a pile of stuff that Susette has sent back for me to look through. And there it is: my cookbook! I flip the pages and there’s the Sweet Death cake recipe. And suddenly I feel at home. Making this cake was an experience in that it was the first time I understood the importance of mise en place and how to use a double boiler. And that you don’t need a food processor to crush things- blenders work just fine.
Unfortunately my family has started counting calories and no one wants a piece of this!
Tomorrow I am hosting a dinner party and part of me really wants to make this, because Valentine’s Day has never quite felt right without it. Give it a try and start a tradition of your own.
Sweet Death Cake
Serves 8 -10.
1 package (8 oz) chocolate wafers
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp raspberry jam
1 cup whipping cream
12oz semisweet chocolate
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup whipping cream
10 oz semisweet chocolate
To make the crust: Grease a springform pan and line with wax paper. In a food processor crush wafers. Add butter and process until well blended. Press wafer mixture into the bottom of the the prepared pan. Melt the jam and pour it evenly over the crust. Refrigerate.
To make the filling: In a double boiler over simmering water melt the cream, chocolate, and vanilla, stirring frequently to blend. Remove from heat and let cool. Using an electric mixer whip filling until it forms soft peaks. Place filling in the prepared pan. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until filling is firm to the touch. Pop open the pan and slide cake onto a plate, then onto a wire rack. Place a sheet of wax paper under the rack to catch drips.
To make the glaze: In a double boiler over simmering water melt cream and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly and pour over the cake. Spread the glaze evently over the top and sides, then refrigerate until the top is firm. Serve with a garnish of mint, creme fraiche, berries, whatever tickles your fancy.
To scare your calorie-conscious friends: Tell them what they’re eating.
Recipe from Seventeen Magazine. The date is lost to antiquity, but the memory lives on.