It’s the beginning of January, which means that you probably have made a few New Year’s Eve Resolutions and if statistics are correct – you probably broke a few already too. Don’t despair – You are in good company. Of the 45% of all Americans that make a New Year’s resolution, only 8% actually keep them. Predictably most are health-related: resolutions to lose weight, stop drinking alcohol, quit smoking. God knows in years past I have made quite a few as well. I have an escape clause for those of you that made a resolution to eat healthier and want to remain in the elite 8%. It comes in the form of an easy, super moist, gluten-free chocolate cake. This chocolate cake will allow you to keep all your New Years’ resolutions and satisfy your sweet tooth all in one tasty bite….
Socca is the ubiquitous street food found all over southeastern France, most notably in Nice and more specifically around the Cours Saleya market. When cooked perfectly, it is best straight from the pan and served very hot, replete with addictively crispy edges and lightly seasoned with flake sea salt, a touch of cumin, and perhaps a drizzle of olive oil. It makes the perfect merenda, or midday snack, with a bottle of rosé (who drinks just one glass?) to keep you active while searching for treasures in the narrow streets of Vieux Nice.
It is hard to pinpoint the exact origins of socca, or soca as it is spelled in the Niçard dialect, though the modern version is likely to have crossed borders from Italy where it is known as farinata. Wikipedia mentions a possible origin story of a group of Roman soldiers cooking chickpea flour on a shield. Chez Pipo, a Nice legend since 1923, mentions that the inhabitants of Nice used to stash large quantities of chickpea flour and olive oil to weather long sieges both by invading Italian and French forces. It is also is very popular in various forms and guises all around the Mediterranean.
This weekend I made my all time favorite dessert, a simple and decadent warm chocolate tart with the most amazing creamy texture. I first encountered it at Joel Robuchon’s three star Michelin restaurant in Paris. I had gone through his multi course tasting menu thinking nothing could top what I had just eaten when the waiter appeared at my table with a rolling cart full of pastries. It was love at first bite and I was determined to make this part of my repertoire at home. Luckily the recipe was published in Chef Robuchon’s book ‘Simply French’ co-authored by Patricia Wells. A recipe so simple anyone could make this at home….