- Pursue It For the Right Reasons -
No one eats cake for any nutritional value. Yes, we make our little jokes to justify the calories and sugar.
“Chocolate has antioxidants.”
“Cake has eggs and milk; protein and calcium.”
“Strawberry Strudel-there’s vitamin C in the strawberry filling.”
We all know full-well that the amount of positives within the desserts we eat do not outweigh the negatives. Cake is for celebrating; donuts are a comforting food; pie is an escape; cookies and milk a reward for that jog. Admit it: sugar is the high we chase. Period, end of story.
These chocolate overdose recipes lead me to one thought: Why can’t we also be chasing a flavor high?
I love chocolate as much as the next gal and will confess there are times you want nothing more than dark chocolate wrapped in milk chocolate with chocolate sprinkles on top. However, in everyday practice, this flavor profile prompts nothing more than a heavy sigh of disappointment from me. Where’s the excitement??
- Profiling Flavor -
Nothing seems to portray my view on flavor profiles like John Maeda’s laws of simplicity. Maeda’s fifth law states “Simplicity and Complexity need each other.” I find this a beautiful concept that applies everywhere, especially food!
The idea is very basic and actually easier to implement that you would think. Take my Chocolate Chipotle Cake. A chocolate cake is very simple in the flavor that it proffers. All it takes is a teaspoon of chipotle powder and you have just added some complexity to your simple profile.
No, this doesn’t make a spicy cake. That would if you added cayenne to the recipe. I prefer chipotle because it just warms everything at the end of the bite. You get your chocolate right up front and are left with this warmth.
See? A teaspoon can be a game changer between simple and complex, boring and interesting.
- Use the Elements as a Structure: Don't Fight Fire with Fire -
If chipotle “kicks it up” too many notches for you, that is fine. Move beyond the cake itself and consider the dressing. Top a cake with a frosting of the same flavor? Not in my kitchen!
I build with the basic consideration of the four elements: fire, water, wind, earth. Every individual flavor can be classified into one of these for elemental groups. Next, consider the opposing group and what flavors might be found there.
Chocolate is an earthy flavor: it is rustic, deep, grounded, sometimes even dry and chalky if you get a bad batch. So, opposite the earth would be the sky. (Take note: yes, I consider the sky synonymous with the element of wind. Deal with it.) The sky group of flavors would be bright, light, airy, maybe even slightly fleeting in their potency.
What flavors do I put in the sky/wind group? Citrus of course. Yes, there are plenty of others, but citrus seems to be the most forthcoming and readily available. Lemon is a particular favorite of mine. That is why a subtle layer of lemon buttercream sprawls across my chocolate chipotle cupcakes.
- Isn't That Better? -
With great power comes great responsibility and baking is a power, as far as I’m concerned. Bakers present the treats people look for after a bad day, a good day, a drab day or a celebration. This power must not be abused with washed out flavor profiles.
The steps between blah and mmmmm create a short flight of stairs for certain. It is far too easy to build a complex flavor profile for us not to do so. Stop with the chocolate on chocolate now. A citrus buttercream or tart berry filling is all it takes.
All [creativity] is not lost...
Corissa has been an artist her entire life and attended the Art Institute for design after completing a Bachelor’s in Accounting from National American University. She validates the contradicting combination with “I love my art but I don’t have to starve for it.”
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