Being the daughter of an Armed Forces officer, I have changed six schools in my life in different parts of India. Out of these, three were convents and three public schools. Even though the exposure to Christianity was great and we celebrated Easter and Christmas with equal fervor as Holi and Diwali, yet no one had heard of Halloween. Had you? The truth is many of us did not know about Halloween, let alone celebrate it in India. In a manner to entice revelers and celebrate the spooky festival, restaurants, clubs, and hotels have now started theme menus where dishes revolve around pumpkin and corn and cocktails with bloody twirls are given spooky names. With greater exposure to cultures and festivities all over the world, the youth is more receptive to fun events and children squeal in excitement with their ‘trick or treat’ bags. No one is complaining. With each passing year, we will hear more about Halloween and perhaps we too will participate with equal zeal.
There are days when I have really strong impulses to do something. I wake up at 5 am with a story or a poem already unfolding in my head and the first thing I do is put my pen to paper to let the thoughts flow. That’s it. It’s that easy. Or I enter the kitchen to try a new recipe. This morning all I wanted to do was – Bake a cake…for Halloween. I left the house hoping the market would have edible decorations in the shape of skulls, spiders, ghosts and bats that would ease my job. I went searching for all the Halloween paraphernalia at the nearest grocery stores that stock imported goods. However, since not many know of this festival, there is hardly any demand and not one shop had any spooky edible characters that Halloween is associated with. Candies!! Yes, these add colour, taste and are in consonance with the theme of “trick or treat” that the children love. Jellies, chocolate sprinkles, candies in different colours were dropped in my basket and they would make my decorations easier for the cake.
Fudgy and moist, the chocolate cake recipe is one that mom used for our birthdays. Don’t we carry memories of childhood with us for the rest of our lives? I have plenty of stories of my life as a kid, that lie in the nooks and corners of my heart. Much as I love the perfect cakes available at the confectioner’s today, there’s something about the ones made at home with simple, readily available ingredients that tug my heart. Much as I tried to give the Halloween cake an eerie look, it looks anything from being scary. It is a soft, gooey chocolate cake with lots of goodies and an adorable monster – a cookie done up in green and black fondant icing. The cake is fun, happy with all the bright colours and irresistible.The chocolate cake brings back a plethora of memories. The decorations and frostings may have changed yet the cake recipe has remained the same. Much akin to our festivals. We give different names and significance to festivals but what remains the basis of these is one – the exuberance and the festive spirit that it stirs up. With these happy thoughts, I wish you all a Happy Halloween!!
|Prep Time||20 mins|
|Cook Time||1 hour|
- 11/3 cup Plain flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200 gm dark chocolate (chopped)
- 225 gm unsalted butter (cubed)
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk
For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line an 8-inch cake tin.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Set aside.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water making sure the bowl doesn't touch water. Cool slightly.
- Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. With beaters on medium speed, add vanilla, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in cooled chocolate and beat until well combined. Beat in a third of sifted ingredients, followed by a third of the milk. Repeat until all ingredients are incorporated, beating until smooth.
- Pour mixture into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack to cool completely.
- To serve, spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake using a hot palette knife, then decorate with the coloured chocolate sprinkles, the fondant hearts, the fruit gum candies.