“ Brand: Dr Oetker / Type: Chocolate „
It's not been too long since I moved out from home, so I'm still very much learning when it comes to cooking. I have, however, tried to do a bit of entertaining with my gf, we'll have a couple of people round and try and knock up a meal.
Whilst we tend to put a fair amount of effort into the starter and main, the dessert gets largely overlooked - especially in the winter. This is, simply, because we often find nobody wants dessert, or we're too full. In the summer, we tend to have strawberries, meringue and cream around - so it's easy to russle up an eaton mess if we need to. In the winter time, I've discovered, Dr Oetker's Tarte au Chocolat is the perfect option for a quick, tasty dessert.
It comes in a brown box, normally found with other ready-mixed cakes and other baking ingredients in the supermarket - and generally costs a couple of pounds. As it's not fresh, it can stand in the cupboard ready for when you need an emergency dessert.
Cooking the thing is really easy. Melt some butter (15 seconds in the microwave), then add the packet mix and a couple of eggs. Give it a good beating up. The mix comes with a piece of greaseproof paper which you cut to size, then stick in a greased baking tin. The first time I did this, being a bit of a novice, it took a couple of minutes - subsequently it's down to around 10 seconds - you don't need to be too precise with the cutting. Once you've beaten the butter, mix and eggs well (the mix has little chocolatey lumps in it, so you'll never get it completely smooth) you just chuck it in the tin.
Generally speaking, I'll prepare the tarte while the main's simmering, or cooking in the oven, etc - it only takes two minutes to get everything out, beat the mix, put it in the tin, then clear up again. I then just leave it on the side. Once I've served the main, I stick the tarte in the oven and sit down to eat. 20 minutes later, we've normally done eating, I clear the plates and whip the tarte out of the oven.
We use a springform tin and it's super-easy to get the tarte out...Pop the ring off, tip upside down onto a plate, whip the greaseproof off the bottom, then turn it back the right way up onto another plate.
The resulting tarte looks lovely - chocolate brown, slightly risen and steaming just a little.
It's a "piece of cake", then, just to serve a slice onto a plate, add cream/ice cream and a little garnish. The tarte holds together well, doesn't crumble or break up.
To taste, the tarte is awesome. It's chocolatey, it's always perfectly moist in the middle, the little chocolate bits add just a hint of crunch...it's a really nice dessert.
Sure, purists will argue that it's cheating, that I should be making something from scratch, but I tend to think of cooking as being a game of results - and when the Dr Oetker mix gets perfect results *every time*, I see it as a fair compromise - you still get the fresh-baked warmth and taste, but without the hassle, and risk, of baking something from scratch.
Best of all, if it turns out that we don't want, or are too full for, pudding, the Dr Oetker tarte certainly won't go to waste - it tastes fantastic cold for snacks the next couple of days, or a few seconds in the microwave will bring it back to life ready for serving with a little icecream for the next day's pudding.
For the sake of a couple of quid, I really feel the Dr Oetker Tarte au Chocolat should be a secret weapon in any budding chef's arsenal. Almost zero preparation, great results and always lovely compliments from guests. Top, top product.
I can cook, I'm a pretty good cook but I don't really like it that much. However, what do like is baking. I find it therapeutic after a stressful day at work. I often bake just for the heck of it.
Under normal circumstances I would bake from scratch, either use well established recipes I know off by heart or open my trusted hand written cook book from my school years to find a new inspiration.
However, sometimes I just want to let of steam and not want to go through all the weighing out ingredients. That's when I find that cake mixes from the supermarkets come in handy.
I grew up in Germany, only a short drive away from where Dr Oetker are based in Bielefeld, which was on many occasions the destination of school trips to visit the factory and watch the chefs in the kitchens do their work, try new things and take home a goodie bag with lots of lovely samples to eat. I also happen to have a number of their cooking books at home (well, my mother bought them over time and every time I am in Germany some of them just happen to hide in my luggage and make it all the way back to London).
=== Who or What are Dr Oetker? ===
Dr August Oetker, a young pharmacist, founded the company in 1891 after experimenting with powders and potions only to find the perfect mix for baking powder that can be stored over time, stayed taste neutral and ensured prefect results every time it was used. It was, and still is, sold under the name 'Backin'. Over 100 years later, the company has grown into a global business and despite starting small with baking ingredients, has diversified into a number of areas, including frozen pizzas, deserts, yoghurts as well as a whole range of cookery books covering everything from small snacks to three course dinners and more.
=== Tarte au Chocolat ===
As I said earlier, I do like baking from scratch but there are times when I like something quick and simple. That's when I open my cupboard and pick a Dr Oetker cake mix (which for the longest time I had to bring back to England from my trips to Germany as they are unavailable here, most of them still are.)
Over the past few months three cake mixes have been heavily advertised on TV. They are part of the 'French Patisserie' range and I have to say that I tried all three, the Tarte au Citron, Tarte aux Amandes and of course Tarte au Chocolat. The latter is subject of this review.
The actual cake mix can be found in most supermarkets at a price of around £2.30 or thereabouts, depending on the promotions they are currently offer.
The box is quite appealing with a finished cake being part of the main picture on the front of the box. But it does not give too much away. All it shows is a piece of chocolate cake. Further information on the front of the box explains that you still need to add 125g of butter and 3 eggs, the time it takes to prepare and bake the cake and how many servings there are (in this case, 8 servings).
The back of the box has pictures illustrating the route to take while making the cake, as well as instruction on time in the oven and the temperature required (200ºC/Gas mark 4 or 180ºC for fan assisted ovens.)
The instructions on how to make the cake are printed in detail on the back of the box. Altogether it is a very easy process: preheat oven, unfold the include parchment, size and grease it, line the bottom of baking tin, combine cake mix with 125g melted butter (I use margarine and don't bother melting it but use it at room temperature) and 3 eggs - it does not tell you what size eggs but I have used both medium and large eggs and it does not seem to make any difference.
Using my trusty mixer, it only takes me a couple of minutes to mix everything into a lovely frothy mix. I use a 24cm (10") cake tin for my cakes, either the rigid sandwich tin or the new silicone baking tins. The results are almost identical, the silicone tins do not require greasing as they can be turned upside down and the cake simply 'peeled' out of the tin.
There are instructions for cakes in different size tins and the given baking times of 18-22min for baking tins the size of 25cm or 10" are correct. To check if the cake is ready, simply poke a knife into the middle of the cake and if there is no cake mix left, the cake is done. Otherwise, leave it in the over but check on a minute by minute basis.
Once done, remove the cake from the oven, leave to stand for a few minutes, turn the cake out onto a plate and wait until cooled down.
=== Tasting the fruit of your labour ===
So, after all this work, how does a cake mix with a little bit of fresh ingredients actually taste?
The top of the cake is slightly crusty and crumbly so when you cut it, it will crumble. I decided to serve the first of the Tarte of Chocolat when I had friends round for coffee one afternoon. The opinion was very positive, nobody knew it was a cake mix and everyone commented on how moist the cake was. I can confirm that each piece of cake is very squishy and moist. The cake smells very much of chocolate and then there is the taste of the cake.
Tasting is a pleasure, the cake is very moist, almost wet and the taste of chocolate goes all through it. Not only that, there cake contains chocolate bits in the cake that makes it tastes even more chocolaty (if here is such a word). You can taste dark chocolate bits in the cake that is so moist, it just melts on your tongue. The taste experience is marvellous and divine. It smells and tastes like a million pounds and very much of expensive chocolate and you would not know it actually came from a cake mix.
Cake I do not use at home, feeding to friends, I take into work the next day to distribute to colleagues. The opinion is entirely in favour of the cake and everyone is praising my baking skills. One of my colleagues even asked me for the recipe for the cake so that she and her daughter can bake it. If that isn't a recommendation, what is?
I love Dr Oetker's Tarte au Chocolat cake mix. It only takes around 30 minutes from start to finish, a perfect last minute desert or tea cake when you suddenly have guest. It tastes great and not like a packet mix at all. I can whole heartedly recommend it for yourself, your family and friends.
It's easy, it's tasty, what else do you want?