I'm going to state the obvious but boys are really quite different from girls with their attitudes towards dating. Boys or men often have a buoyant confidence that you don't often see in the female equivalent. I was struck by this when Belinda and I were having an online conversation with Nick, our ebullient single "brother" that we are trying to get matched up.
Belinda: You need to go on a date night.
Nick: I only date Victoria Secret ex or current models!
Belinda: If you get a date with a VS model I will buy you dinner at Quay.
Nick: You're on!! I like that challenge. Current or ex? It will be easy. Remember I'll be in Vegas.
Belinda: I mean a legit date not a photo op at a dodgy Las Vegas bar.
Lorraine: Yes I will buy your drinks at Quay then. And that's a genuine Victoria's Secret model. Not VS=Victor Siffredi.
Nick: SBS great movie on quick!
Lorraine: What about?
Nick: Two hot women in an erotic adventure in Rome. Wild scenes.
Belinda and Lorraine have left the conversation...
Nick is of course an extreme example of an overly confident man on the prowl. We also have Mr NQN who is shy and there is also his similarly quiet Danish "twin" Viggo who was born one year and one day apart from Mr NQN. They share common interests like technology and there is the whole Scandinavian thing. Even their mums have a lot in common. One thing that they both like is beer.
It was Viggo's birthday and we were invited to dinner. I hate to turn up empty handed and Viggo and his wife Louise already have an entire cellar room of wine so they didn't need any so we turned up with a birthday cake. There was just one cake request: chocolate cake. I decided to incorporate two of Viggo's favourite things into the cake and that is beer and pork or bacon.
This chocolate cake is really very simple with the present taste of beer without becoming bitter or being knocked out by it (and by all means, you can brush the cake with beer before icing it if you want more of a beer flavour). It's a cake that keeps well because it is moist. The beer and bacon serve to enhance it-the beer with the crackly crust and moist centre while the bacon gives it a savoury boost that goes so well with the beer. And it doesn't matter if you're making this for a woman or man, by the time you've finished your slice, it won't even matter!
So tell me Dear Reader, what three flavours would be your choice for a cake? Are you a bacon and sweet fan? And what do you think Nick's chances are like? P.S. he has never dated a Victoria's Secret model.
Chocolate, Beer & Bacon Cake
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- 1 cup beer (your favourite kind)
- 250g/8.83ozs butter
- 1/2 cup mascarpone or cream cheese, softened (you could even use sour cream)
- 1 3/4 cups plain all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 3/4 cup cocoa, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 350g/12.36ozs. brown sugar
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 200g/7ozs. dark chocolate chips
- 2 rashers streaky bacon, fried and then cut up into squares*
Chocolate gloss icing
- 175g/6 ozs dark chocolate drops
- 150ml/ 5 fl. ozs double cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
*You can add more bacon to this recipe by chopping up 4 cooked rashers finely and sprinkling it on top of the cake or along the sides. It depends on how much you want the bacon flavour - it is a great addition to the cake
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a long rectangular tin with parchment on the base and sides. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the beer. Whisk in the mascarpone.
Ok this looks weird and not appealing...
Step 2 - Sift the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt into a large bowl. I usually never sift things but cocoa tends to be lumpy as does bicarb and you don't want lumps of either. In a jug whisk the sugar and eggs together. Pour half of the butter beer mix into the flour and then half the sugar egg mix and then repeat until it is mixed together. Add in the chocolate chips and stir to distribute. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes. Cool in the tin for a few hours or overnight.
Step 3 - Trim the cake so that it sits flat when upturned. Place the cake on a cooling rack with a tray underneath to catch the drips. Brush away any little crumbs. You can of course do a chocolate ganache crumb coat beforehand but I was running out of time.
Step 4 - Place the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and melt them together over simmering water or in a microwave. Stir in the butter. Pour three quarters of the icing over the whole cake, making sure it covers the top and the sides completely, scooping up the excess from the tray with a palette knife as necessary. Use the remaining 1/4 of the icing to patch up any gaps with a palette knife. Place the bacon on top and allow the icing to set.