Chocolatey Strawberry Goodness

It's been a long month and I'm in need of some chocolatey goodness - and the caffeine and Tryptophan and Phenylethylalanine* to pick me up. So I went searching for some new recipes and found this on Hugs and Cookies XOXO. I've adapted it to metric and for Aussie cooking.

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Brownies.

What you need:
  • 1/2 cup margarine (I'm lactose intolerant. You can use butter if you prefer)
  • 225g dark cooking chocolate for brownies.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (we used fresh from mum's chook run)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 225g strawberries (just under a punnet )
  • 250g of 70% dark chocolate for the topping.
How to make it:
Brownie base: Melt the cooking chocolate and margarine, until smooth. Stir in the sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and self-raising flour. Pour into pre-greased or non-stick 20 x 20 cm baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes at 175 deg C. Allow to cool. Topping: Slice strawberries and place on top of brown base. Melt dark chocolate and pour over the strawberries. Chill for one hour (minimum) and cut into slices. Yum! finish
Changes I made to the original recipe:

Self raising flour has flour+baking powder. In Australia we don't have salt in our self-raising flour, as they do in the US. I removed the salt in the original recipe to make this healthier. I'm also using 70% dark chocolate which is not as sweet (and less milk - see lactose intolerant comment above). I also increased the amount of chocolate for the topping to ensure the strawberries would be covered.

Changes I'll make next time:

The extra thickness made it harder to cut and made them very, very rich. Next time I'll try my 85% dark chocolate to reduce sweetness. I may also decrease the amount of chocolate to 200-225g for the topping so it is not as thick.

Suggestion: The brownies were soft and gooey (which I love). If you prefer your brownies more 'cake-like', then you will need to cook the brownie base for longer.

And for those who like video:

Sciencey Stuff:

*Tryptophan: amino acid found in small amounts in chocolate and is used by the brain to make serotonin (neurotransmitter producing feelings of happiness). Phenylethylalanine: has been found in chocolate. It promotes feelings associated with the initial euphoria of falling in love. It also acts as an anti-depressant, combining with dopamine in the brain.

  1. A natural compound in red wine and chocolate may halt Alzheimer’s, study finds
  2. Can chocolate give me a happy high?
  3. Compounds in dark chocolate can make you feel calmer...
  4. Why does chocolate make us happy:

Photos and Video:©2016 Karen J Carlisle. All Rights Reserved.

Could Henry Really Eat Chocolate Cake?

Here is that "I-was-going-to-do-a-post-on-Chocolate" post pipped from last week.

I've just finished the seemingly-endless rounds of rewrites and editing for Eye of the Beholder & Other Tales. Several episodes of ferreting down the rabbit hole ensued - fact checking, date of origin checking and following up on 'to do later' notations. All good. No problems.

Then my editor, Sharon, asked: "Would Henry really eat chocolate cake? Was it available in 1889?"

I froze. I know I fact checked it for the first book.

There is a running joke throughout both books about Viola's friend and police surgeon, Henry Collins', fondness for both chocolate and fruit cake. Originally, I wanted to use Red Velvet cake but the earliest recipe I could find was post 1900. The earliest recipe for Devil's Food cake, which used twice as much cocoa (4 ounces) as previous chocolate cakes, was published in 1900. Until then, most chocolate cakes used no more than two ounces of cocoa.

I knew this! But the first chocolate cake recipe? The date eluded me. I took a deep breath and pulled out my research notes. I know I had the information. Somewhere.

A Quick History of the Victorian Chocolate Cake.

The Production of Cocoa.

1764: Dr James Baker produces chocolate after grinding cocoa between two millstones. Cocoa was expensive - mainly due to the cost of processing.

1828: Conrad van Houten developed a process called Dutching - a mechanical method to extract the fat from cocoa liqueur, separating cocoa butter from the cocoa. The cocoa was sold as rock cocoa, which could be ground into powder. This was the first step to reducing the cost of cocoa.

1851: Chocolate was added to boiled sweets, caramels, chocolate creams and bonbons and showcased at the Prince Albert Expo in London.

1879: A new process, called 'conching', was developed by Rodolphe Lindt. This technique produced smoother chocolate which was easier to use in baking.

By the 1890s, chocolate was cheaper to produce. Chocolate desserts were common.

MrsBeeton_copyright2016KarenCarlisleBaking with Cocoa:

Most recipes in the late nineteenth century were for drinks. The first known chocolate cake recipe was not a 'real' chocolate cake, by modern standards. They were yellow or white cakes with chocolate icing.

1847: The first known recipe for chocolate cake was in an American recipe book, Eliza Leslie Lady's Receipt Book. Grated chocolate was added to the cake mix. Essentially, any cake with cocoa added, either into the cake mix or topped with chocolate icing, was known as a chocolate cake. Most were single layer cakes only.

1859: The introduction of baking powder into cake recipes produced lighter, less dense cakes.

1886: Sarah Tyson Rorers produced a recipe for cake, using two ounces of melted chocolate and baking powder.  It was expensive, so not readily available.

1894: The recipe for Chocolate cake No. 3 was published in Mrs Beeton's book.

1897: First recipe for chocolate brownies was published in the Sears and Roebuck's catalogue.

1900: Devil's Food cake used four ounces of chocolate in the recipe.

With a sigh of relief (I knew I'd checked it), I messaged my editor with the information: Chocolate cake was available, albeit not affordable by everyone, in 1886. So the answer to her question was:

Yes, Henry could have his cake - and he would definitely eat it too!


 Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle. All Rights Reserved. If you wish to use any of my images, please contact me.

  1. Brief History of Chocolate. Smithsonian.
  2. Eliza Leslie Ladies Recipt Book. (1847) Hathi Trust:;view=1up;seq=7
  3. Food Timeline:
  4. Food and Drink in American History: A "Full Course" Encyclopedia.
  5. History: Wikipedia Chocolate Cake.

  6. Mrs Rorer's Chocolate Cake: Revolutionary Pie.

  7. Royal Baker Pastry Cookbook (1888)

  8. Swiss Chocolate Pioneers in the 19th Century:

  9. Victorian London:

1889 sarah tyson rorer lady reciept book 1847 royal baker pastry cook book 1887