Chocolate Cake is Currency

Adventure is one of those words that I’ve almost grown to hate. Thank you Pinterest and hashtags. It’s a word that has become a cliché, or in some cases the gross hyperbole that is, “I’m totally going on a nail painting adventure today.” No. This is not an adventure. It’s an activity.

Now that I have sufficiently been a hater potater I’ll get to my point. Adventure isn’t vacation. It isn’t just all of the really exciting cool things; it’s all of it. This is where Instagram and Facebook and all of those social media outlets can lead us astray. We all know this. Who wants to make a post about something not fun, less flattering, or embarrassingly stupid (not in a funny or cool way). The participators in these sources know what I’m speaking of. It’s the illusion that’ll get you. Yes, our lives are peppered with really happy moments, really exciting moments, really adventurous and awesome moments, but this is not a constant. There will always be a struggle. I’m always weary of those ‘I’M HAVING THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE…ALL OF THE TIME!’ people. There is no freaking way. I believe that some people are generally happier than others, but we all have our down slopes. That’s what keeps us interesting. No one wants to just be one thing, even it if is happy. Blech, how ‘milk toast’.

That feeling when you've riding straight up a mountain and you can't even see the trail after turn 1...you know it's going to be a sweetly scary descent!
That feeling when you’ve riding straight up a mountain and at the top you can’t even see the trail after turn 1, you know it’s going to be a sweetly scary descent!

This is why we adventure. In whatever form it takes; sometimes it’s moving jobs, or towns, maybe it’s quitting something or starting something. For me, right now the adventure that I am on is bundled into the “Hey, I’m in New Zealand” adventure, but there is a lot more to that. Because just going to and being in a new country is cool, but it’s also really easy. You buy a ticket and you sit down for an extended period of time (and if you read my last post, sometimes there is some sweatiness involved) but really anyone can do it. The adventurous part is all of the uncomfortable shit after that.

You want to know when you’re having an adventure? Here are some hints to see if you’re on the right track:

  1. You have the feeling of always being lost. *BONUS if you have neck pain from checking left, right, left again, right some more and then just to be safe another left trying to cross the residential street.
  2. You’re constantly reminding yourself that you’re supposed to be having an adventure so you find yourself doing things and saying, “yes” to any and every social offering.
  3. You feel guilty when you have time to be sedentary, because that somehow translates to wasting precious adventure time.
  4. Finding a grocery store and buying food for at least 4 days is a major accomplishment.
  5. Everything you do seems to hold some sort of higher, complex, and often contrived meaning. Not always bad, but certainly comical when looked back on. Did folding my clean underwear really help me see the meaning of my life? Yes. Yes it did.
  6. I bet you thought I forgot about the chocolate cake thing. I didn’t. Chocolate cake becomes currency.

The combination of sugar, butter and chocolate isn’t just a recipe for baked goods; it’s a recipe for making friends, it is a skill that is vital in any sort of adventure. You have to be good at making genuine connections with people. You will inevitably look like a little lost American regardless of how many guidebooks you have, so be open to the help of locals. They know what is up. They generally like to pass that knowledge along, especially to those willing to accept it and use it to its’ fullest. THIS IS ADVENTURE!

This is chocolate cake.
See the bottom of the post for the recipe!

Sometimes, if you’re really super duper lucky, that initial interaction can turn into shelter and even a hot meal. Never expect this from your encounters but be pleasantly surprised when it does happen. These people are out there and when you are the local you can repay the universe by letting the lost little souls into your home. See how that works? Yep. It’s a really beautiful thing.

My personal rule for accepting a place to stay is making a nice meal for your hosts. Sometimes they are so nice that you can’t seem to offer anything they will accept so you just have to jump in there and bake them a damn chocolate cake. So do it. Don’t skimp on yummy, high quality ingredients. If there is ever a time to spend a ridiculous amount of money on cake ingredients it’s now. So do it. And love it. Because you’re paying for lodging, showers, meals and fun times with this delicious baked good. Life doesn’t suck for you right now.

Last thing I have to say, imagine what our world would look like if we paid for shit with chocolate cake. Happy, round and diabetic. But there probably wouldn’t be any wars!

(Here are some more pictures from my travels to the south island. Nelson and Golden Bay area.)

Here is how we made the chocolate cake!

Get these things:

  • -200g dark chocolate
  • -200g butter
  • -200g sugar
  • -200g ground almonds (or hazelnuts)
  • -1tsp vanilla extract
  • -6eggs separate
  • Ganache icing:
  • -1/2c. cream
  • -150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Then do this:

Heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease 22mm spring form cake pan and line with baking paper.

In a saucepan, very gently heat the butter and chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. Cool slightly, and then stir in the sugar.

Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the ground almonds, egg yolks and vanilla.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out moist (ew, I hate that word), but clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then carefully turn it out on a serving plate. Ice the cake when it’s completely cool.

Combine the cream and chocolate in a pot and on very low heat melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature, but don’t allow it to harden before spreading the ganache over the cake. Cut with a knife that’s been dipped into hot water and enjoy the most delicious thing you’ve EVER EVER experienced.

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