Archive for Wednesday, February 4, 1998

KITCHEN AND GARDEN

February 4, 1998

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Like most people who have a sweet tooth, I'm a fool for chocolate. Imagine what happens when I can indulge that passion for a good cause.

Last year I had the opportunity to write a feature story about a group of women who were making elaborate desserts for Baldwin's annual Valentine Chocolate Auction, a benefit for the Baldwin Community Arts Council.

I don't know how readers responded to the story but I certainly piqued my own interest. So it was that I found myself on the Sunday before Valentine's Day in a room full of chocolate, with a competing bidder being the only thing standing between me and cocoa nirvana.

My rival finally wimped out, and I left the auction triumphant. The prize I bagged was a big one -- an elegant three-layer chocolate truffle cake baked by Charlene Potter.

Let's just say that my winning bid was significant enough that I didn't tell my husband how much I paid. Anyway, why taint a creation so magnificent with tawdry discussions of money?

Of this I am certain: A denser, more chocolaty dessert has never been prepared for human consumption. This cake was so rich that it came very close to being overwhelming and could only be eaten in thin slivers. I grow weak just thinking about it.

I'm happy to report that this finest of desserts is now within reach of anyone willing to accept the challenge. The recipe appears on pages 46 through 48 of "The Fine Art of Chocolate," a cookbook commemorating the 10th anniversary of the chocolate auction.

That's no misprint. The recipe for this complex confection spans three pages.

Ruth Dickinson, president of the arts council, brought me a copy of the cookbook, which will be on sale during this year's auction, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Baldwin High School commons. The book also will be available at The Bay Leaf, 725 Mass.

We visited a bit about the auction and its objectives, which went a long way toward assuaging any residual guilt I had about how much I'd paid for that cake.

Ruth told me that the auction generally nets about $2,000 a year and provides the majority of the arts council's funding.

"We are just too small to qualify for grants since they've cut things back," Ruth said. "We depend on the auction for a lot of our funding."

Scholarships get a good portion of the proceeds. The additional revenue generated by cookbook sales will help the council increase its sponsorship of budding musicians.

As fund-raiser cookbooks go, this one stands apart by virtue of its subject matter. I was happy to discover recipes for all manner of chocolate dessert, from cupcakes to candy. I was also relieved to see that not all of the recipes were as demanding as the one for the truffle cake and that some could, in fact, be prepared by mere mortals in well under an hour.

Take Robyn Elder's Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, for instance. Once you lay the ingredients out on the counter, the prep time is five minutes.

If a moist chocolate cake, floating in a puddle of gooey fudge syrup sounds appealing, this one's for you. My family loved it topped with vanilla ice cream.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 cup flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

grants since they've cut things back," Ruth said. "We depend on the auction for a lot of our funding."

Scholarships get a good portion of the proceeds. The additional revenue generated by cookbook sales will help the council increase its sponsorship of budding musicians.

As fund-raiser cookbooks go, this one stands apart by virtue of its subject matter. I was happy to discover recipes for all manner of chocolate dessert, from cupcakes to candy. I was also relieved to see that not all of the recipes were as demanding as the one for the truffle cake and that some could, in fact, be prepared by mere mortals in well under an hour.

Take Robyn Elder's Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, for instance. Once y

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