Kek Chokulåti’: Chocolate Cake
This popular dessert item is a dark-colored baked cake that contains chocolate as the main flavoring ingredient. Often coated with sugar frosting or icing, the chocolate cake is presented as a sheet cake or a layered round cake, and decorated to suit the occasion.
Chocolate cake is a dessert item that is often served at gatherings such as birthday parties and weddings. Like many dessert cakes and pastries (postri) enjoyed in Guam, chocolate cake in its present incarnation probably appeared with the arrival of Americans to the island in the early part of the 20th century. Indeed, recipes for chocolate cake were printed in early editions of the Guam Recorder, such as those belonging to Mrs. H.A. Nagle, a graduate of the Mrs. Barber Cooking School in Philadelphia and an instructor of domestic science classes at the Guam Department of Education.
Cakes were classified in the traditional CHamoru food category of postri, which included dessert cakes, sweet rolls and pastries. It is unclear if chocolate cake was consumed during the Spanish era (17th through 19th centuries), although the Spanish did introduce chocolate sweets, chocolate drinks, and pastries to the CHamoru people. The Spanish also introduced the cultivation of cacao, the plant from which chocolate is derived. Although never grown into an agricultural or commercial industry, cacao plants remained on Rota (Luta), an island north of Guam and part of the Mariana Islands) even after World War II.
Although many families today choose to purchase chocolate cake from local bakeries or use a prepared cake mix, others choose to bake their own cakes from scratch.
The ingredients for chocolate cake vary with recipes, but essential components are eggs, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, butter or oil, salt and baking soda. Most of these ingredients obviously are imported food items to the Marianas. Different frostings can be used to cover the cake, and other items may be added to enhance flavors and textures, such as nuts, coffee, coconut or other fruits. Indeed, chocolate cake is one of the most versatile items on the fiesta dessert table and a nice way to close out a festive meal.
Placement on table
Chocolate cake is placed with the desserts at the end of the table, but dishes classified as desserts are most commonly placed on a separate table.
Devil’s Food Recipe
One cup of brown sugar, one cup of grated chocolate, one half-cup of sweet milk
One cup brown sugar, one half-cup sweet milk, yolks of three eggs, two cups flour, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder.
Put part one on the stove and let it come to a boil. Cool and mix with part two. Layer with vanilla. Bake in three layers and put together with white icing.
* Recipe from “Recipes and Domestic Science Hints” by Mrs. Nagle in The Guam Recorder, Volume II, December 1925, p. 284.
Little Chocolate Cakes
Two tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup of water, 1-1/2 cups of flour, a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, put together with butter as for cake. Bake in round pans in moderate oven.
* Recipe from Little Chocolate Cakes by Mrs. Nagle in The Guam Recorder, Volume III; September 1926, p. 163.