Walnuts & chocolate

At the centre of one of the lawns in the Sounds is a walnut tree. It’s been there, oh, forever, and is a real feature of the garden. Beautifully bare & silver-barked in winter, freshly green in spring but, at this time of the year, autumn, with leaves browning & nuts falling on the grass, it comes into its own. In days gone by the possums used to get most of the nuts but nowadays, thanks to years of effective poisoning, those pests are under control & we can rake up a couple of cartons of walnuts without difficulty. So, back home, what to do with fresh walnuts? Walnut & chocolate a great pairing, and in this recipe the chopped walnuts mix into the icing. And it’s a lovely dark, moist cake.


Sanyati chocolate cake


(The recipe came from a VSA newsletter, and Sanyati’s a place in Zimbabwe where there was a volunteer who made this … though apparently it’s actually a southern USA recipe.)


In a large bowl mix 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, ½ tspn salt.

In a pot, bring to the boil 1 cup butter, 4 tbspns cocoa, 1 cup water. Add this hot mix to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Add ½ cup milk, 2 eggs, 1 tspn baking soda, 1 tspn vanilla, ½ tspn vinegar.

Grease a tin (the recipe says square-ish but I went round, the only cake tin I have, which may have caused a longer baking time), and bake for 20 – 40 mins at 350 – 400 F. The cake mix is very liquid so DON’T use a loose bottom tin unless you want a smoke-filled kitchen and a charred oven … learn from my stupid mistake!


For the icing, bring to the boil in a pot ½ cup butter, 4 tbspns cocoa, 6 tbspns milk. Remove from heat & add 1 tspn vanilla, 1 cup chopped walnuts & enough icing sugar to make it spreadable. And sweet! It’s a good idea to taste before icing to ensure the bitterness of cocoa doesn’t dominate.


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