Monday, 29 February 2016

Getting Your Rocks Off

And so yes, life is tricky and strange. The thing to do, is dot it with spoonfuls of sugar every now and then. Metaphorically and literally. My own tooth is not particularly sweet, I'd even go so far as saying that at times, I opted for savoury seconds in place of dessert. Again, metaphorically and literally. But denying yourself the pleasure of decadence when the chips (triple cooked or not) are down, seems unnecessary deprivation. One of the most important lessons, I believe, to be learned from a life looking up to a self-flagellator such as dad was, is that you must occasionally kick back and treat yo'self.

To me, there is no greater embodiment of the ultimate treat than a slice of rocky road, aka tiffin, aka fridge cake. When inspired to reach for the sweets, I invariably lean towards chocolate. However, not the sickly, corner shop confectionary minimal cocoa solids content business, but the richer and gooier sort. And even with this particular ingenious yet simple creation, combining chocolaty soothing comfort with a sugary buzz, whilst it's easy to get hold of some god-awful supermarket varieties, they are never EVER as good and satisfying as when home made.

Growing up, of course, my tastes were less discerning on issues on purity, whenever my mum would make fridge cakes. Chocolate was not a staple, we rarely had it at home, let alone available for consumption. But when the mood took her, my mum would whip out the tea biscuits, bash them with a rolling pin, then add them to an irresistible mixture of  cocoa powder, fat (marge, horror of horrors) and sugar. This glistening crunchy batter would be shaped into thick salamis, wrapped in baking parchment, and deposited in the freezer. We would then be apportioned 1 or 2 slices to savour, but not every day, the diminishing size of the enticing roll monitored closely by the parental units. I remember the excitement noticing clues of preparation, the anticipation of the finished cake, being allowed access to chocolate-sullied bowl dispensation and its perks (if I'd been good), and the wonder of the cake's sliceability, despite being frozen, made possible by the high fat content.

And later on, as an adult, coming across the more sophisticated variations - made with *gasp* butter and real chocolate, and with added beloved glacé cherries (yes yes, the marmite conundrum... well i love them so there), raisins, nuts, marshmallows, and even such eccentricities as M&Ms or Smarties! Well i never. Tiffin is even covered in ganache! - all interpreted by my still presiding younger self as rare and special moments to be savoured, enjoyed and never taken for granted. Which is probably why the store-bought kind is readily dismissed and ignored by that same young me. They're just not made with the right intent - dotting our lives with specks of delight.

Recently, attending a special and fabulous offal Supperclub marvelled at here, I came across as near an approximation to my mum's recipe as I ever have, and it came as such an unexpected surprise, given the theme of this long and complex meal, that in spite of unbearable fullness, I couldn't help but reach for a second slice, filled with evoked memories, bringing back moments of childhood joy.

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