A long time ago I heard that the water you drain off of chickpeas, also called aquafaba, is a good substitute for egg whites in all kinds of things, including meringue. I never tested it out even though I meant to (and often use chickpeas, and all that fabulous water has gone down the drain). My mom mentioned this tip to me yesterday, and was surprised I already knew about it – and also was eager for me to try it out. I happened to notice that someone visited my blog and landed on the page that includes a recipe for espresso meringue cookies (something I have not made since 2009) and also happened to be making vegetable curry (meaning chickpeas were already being used). Nothing wasted: waste not, want not.
So… espresso meringue cookies. The vegan kind. I was dubious. I started beating the chickpea run-off with vanilla and waited. Didn’t look promising at first. But then it all started coming together.
When soft peaks formed, I beat in a sugar and espresso powder mixture that ended up yielding a very nice meringue. And in fact the taste was like espresso – not like chickpea.
My go-to chocolate cake recipe has always been a bit more than ‘basic’. When I first published it here in this blog way back in 2009, I referred to it as “basic”, but later, when I started baking on a grander scale, I realized that, no, in fact, it has too many separate steps to be called basic. When you can make one-cup microwave chocolate cake to satisfy those driving choco-cravings or something a few steps simpler, this one is not the easiest you can get. But every chocolate-loving friend with whom I have shared this particular cake will tell you that the extra steps are well worth it.
Many years ago when I started making this cake, one friend told me it was the second-best cake of her life (after her wedding cake). Another friend uses this recipe every time she needs a killer cake that will not fail. The other day for a work dinner, I produced this cake, and one of the dinner party guests exclaimed that it was possibly the best cake she has ever eaten. High praise indeed. Similar accolades flow every time.
best chocolate cake ever
The only difference this time between my original recipe and what I did now is that I used two different kinds of frosting. I made a standard buttercream (cocoa, powdered sugar, butter and sprinkle of coffee), which I used as a rather thick crumb coat. On top of this, on each layer, I slathered on generous heaps of chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, which always comes out tasting a bit like chocolate mousse. Again, worth the extra work.
extra step: beat egg whites and fold them into the rest of the cake batter
voilà: uncut cake ready for transport and gobbling up
It’s May and what better way to start the month than to lie? I am only including the original of this particular poem – I don’t have a translation (can’t find an already-done one and don’t have time to come up with a plausible/satisfactory translation myself right now). But I still couldn’t resist sharing it, wanting to expand the range of poetic voices included here.
Tristesse en mai
–Léopold Sédar Senghor
C’est la douceur fondue du soir
transparent vers dix-sept heures au mois de mai.
Et monte le parfum des roses.
Comme pièces de monnaie au fond de l’eau en zigzaguant
tombe le compte lourd de ma journée.
Des cris—qui sait si c’est de haine ?—
Des mots de fronde sur des visages d’adolescents.
Poussière et dos ruisselants, enthousiasmes, essoufflements.
Des enveloppes douloureuses avec paysages de baobabs,
corvées en file indienne et charognards sur fond d’azur.
Bien des confidences encore.
Et pour relever mes épaules,
pour donner le courage d’un sourire à mes lèvres défaites,
pas un rire d’enfants fusant comme bouquet de bambous,
pas une jeune femme à la peau fraîche, puis douce et chaude,
pas un livre pour accompagner la solitude du soir,
pas même un livre !