Some people will tell you that the only way to cook is precision. Measuring everything out to the last sugar crystal…
I understand what they are saying. And I agree, to a point. When you are just starting out it is good to go by the book, to get a feel for how the recipe is supposed to look or how bread or cookie dough should feel. But after the basics are mastered why cook like a robot? Especially at sea! The boat is moving, why should you stay stiff?
No, I come from a very different school of thought. To me cooking is art, creativity, experimentation. To put too many rules and regulations on your cooking puts limits on your imagination. I have written measurements down for my recipes exactly, but please just use them as a guide. I encourage you to add a little salt if something is too bland for you or put an extra pinch of sugar or shake of pepper in there.
I’m not a fan of hard and fast rules even on land, but at sea inflexibility is just silly. You never know where you’re going to find yourself and you can’t always find every ingredient you need in every port. And though it is impossible to make cornbread without some type of corn meal (a herculean feat in Australia – do not make my mistake of thinking what they sell as corn flour is corn meal. No corn flour is actually corn starch). Most things can be substituted or worked around. After all, we’re sailors… jerry-rigging and innovation is the name of the game! Often substitution can lead to delicious new recipes. Isn’t that how recipes are invented in the first place?
One of my favorite improvised recipes is my Passionate Death by Chocolate. I had made some passion fruit jam and decided to use it in one of my favorite cake recipes. I admit, I haven’t made the cake on a boat yet, but putting up the picture without posting the recipe just seemed cruel.
This easy-to-make (almost) flourless chocolate cake tastes as decadent as it looks. I recommend keeping it refrigerated and serving it in thin slivers with vanilla ice cream. Whoever samples it may ask you where you’ve been moonlighting as a pastry chef.
- 8 oz dark chocolate
- 2/3 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 5 Tablespoons flour
- 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 Tablespoons sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350◦ F (180◦ C)
- Line a 10+ inch circular cake tin with parchment paper. You can use a larger pan for a slightly thinner cake, but if you only have smaller pans then it might be better to use 2 or make tarts.
- Melt the butter and chocolate in double boiler. It’s easy to jerry rig a double boiler using 2 pans. Put about an inch of water in the bottom one and some small kitchen implement for the second one to balance on so it is not completely touching the bottom of the lower pan.
- Thoroughly mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder
- Mix in melted butter, chocolate, and sour cream
- Bake 40-50 minutes
- Cool the cake completely and cut in half horizontally
- Spread passion fruit, raspberry, or whatever type of jam you’d like between the two layers of cake and on top
- 2/3 cup cream
- 9 oz dark chocolate
- Passion Fruit Jibing Jam
Make the icing while the cake is baking
- Heat ⅔ C. cream in small pan until almost boiling
- Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth
- Allow to cool until of a thicker consistency (if it gets too thick you can always heat it again)
- Spread the icing over the top and around the sides of the cake
- Refrigerate for at least an hour