Everyone has different motivations for cooking, baking or whatever other kitchen-related activities they choose to participate in. I would say that a large portion of the population simply makes food because they have to eat it to survive. In many cases convenience is the number one priority, meaning that eating out is preferred to eating in. You also have the people who really like to cook – but simply because they really like to consume the final product that they make (hey if it tastes good, there’s nothing wrong with that, assuming you leave some room for moderation). Then you have people like me. Yes we like to cook and bake, and no, we do not completely abstain from eating our creations. But for the most part, we are perfectly content baking up a storm for hours on end, and then feeding the majority of our efforts to those around us. It’s almost like the introvert/extravert distinction, but in the kitchen. Intro-bakers keep things to themselves. Extra-bakers give it away.
I get questioned about this all of the time. People cannot wrap their heads around the fact that you would make something and hardly eat any of it. “What’s the point?” seems to be the common concern. I was feeling especially contemplative yesterday and thought about it as I kneaded a batch of bread that I had no intentions of eating (the buns turned out like pathetic little pancakes so maybe it was karma). I concluded that for me at least, it comes down to motivation; intrinsic vs. extrinsic. Whereas intrinsic motivators come from within, extrinsic motivators are those that are present in the environment around us. It does get a bit complicated because some might argue that baking to eat is an intrinsically motivated process. I disagree with that. I will argue instead that you are baking to serve an extrinsic motivator, that being hunger, taste or what have you. See true intrinsic motivation doesn’t require anything else to validate it. I bake because I enjoy it for what it is. The entire process puts me in my happy place. If you know what I am talking about, I am sure you can relate. Otherwise, you think I am crazy, I know. I get that a lot. That’s not to say that extrinsic motivation doesn’t play a role though. Giving food to other people and seeing the enjoyment they get from it definitely serves as extrinsic motivation. No matter how intrinsically motivated you are to cook or bake, if you continually experienced rejection from those you tried to share it with, I don’t doubt that you would lose the extrinsic motivation to keep doing it.
See it’s a careful balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation – in all aspects of life. Ultimately, you want to strive for extrinsic motivation, yes. But you cannot discount the importance of extrinsic motivators either. Would you go to work every day if you did not get paid for it? And would you work for free if you never got any recognition for the job you were doing? If your answer to either of those questions is “yes”, you are a better person than I will ever be. Hey, maybe I could work for free, but realistically I could only do it if I was extrinsically motivated by chocolate.
Now about this torte. My love for Green and Black’s Organic Chocolate runs deep. Although they have some amazing flavours like Burnt Toffee (used here) and white chocolate, studded with little flecks of vanilla bean (used here), sometimes you just have to go for the classic, 70% stuff. Make no mistake, this flourless chocolate torte is the perfect, rich application to show it off for all it is worth. If you like light, fluffy desserts, this torte probably should not be your go-to. But for all you other intrinsically or extrinsically motivated chocolate lovers out there, this torte is for you!
- 3 100g bars of Green and Black's Organic dark chocolate (I used a combination of 70% and 85% bars)
- ¾ cup (6 oz.) butter
- 6 large eggs
- 1¼ cup (8 oz.) brown sugar
- 1 mandarin orange, juice and zest
- ⅔ cup ground almonds (ground hazelnuts also work)
- Melt together the dark chocolate and butter, either over a double boiler or just in the microwave. Let it cool slightly at room temperature.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, orange juice, zest and almonds.
- Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated.
- Pour the batter into an 8 inch spring form pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F until it doesn't jiggle anymore, about 40 minutes.
- Allow the torte to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Chill for at least 2 hours prior to slicing and serving.