Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Progress report

Oh, well, actually, this past weekend was VERY NONPRODUCTIVE in some ways. In other ways, well —

a) My parents finally got Covid vaccinations, yay! While this didn’t take TOO long, it did take most of Saturday morning and then I never quite back to opening up my laptop. Especially because it was easily warm enough for the dogs to enjoy long walks, plus there is still enough snow to keep their feet clean, so there went the afternoon.

b) I spent all of Sunday baking. I do very little baking these days, but every now and then I have some decent-ish excuse. This time I made corn fritters — I don’t know why, but now that I mostly avoid carbs, corn fritters are something I miss. The sweet kind that you serve with syrup. Then I made a kind of unbaked cheesecake suitable to put in dessert dishes instead of a crust.

Then I made a chocolate layer cake with some of my black cocoa powder. Has anyone tried this? The cocoa powder is very heavily dutched, that’s why it’s so dark in color. The cake comes out VERY black, but with less chocolate flavor than if you used regular cocoa. I used some bittersweet chocolate in addition to the cocoa powder and this cake came out rather well. I was going to make black chocolate frosting as well, but wound up making a not-too-sweet white cream cheese filling instead and using that, so the cake wasn’t unrelieved black.

Anyway, half the cake went to my parents and the other half largely wound up in my freezer. I really overdosed on sugar and won’t have any trouble sticking to the keto diet for the rest of the week, I’m pretty sure.

So the only thing I actually got done:

c) I did read through the current version of Of Absence, Darkness. Wow, reordering certain scenes created VERY ABRUPT scene shifts here and there, which I had not previously realized. So I smoothed those out. I’m also integrating various first readers’ comments and smoothing out the phrasing of sentences and fixing typos and all that. I have now ended this book earlier than I previously intended, so it will come out a little short, whereas the final book will be a little long. I didn’t quite finish that over the weekend, but should be able to do that tonight.

As a side note, I also realized what the other Big Problem will be for the fifth Tuyo novel. I already knew about the most important Big Problem, which has to do with, um, never mind, but the point is, there was no actual villain of any kind in the fifth book. Now I think there is. Unless I change my mind, I know who the villain is and why this person is a villain and what’s going on with all that. I like this idea so far and made a quick note of it so I don’t forget before I get around to actually writing this book.

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4 Comments Progress report

  1. Sandstone

    I find Black Cocoa a bit bitter on its own, but I find it has a nice chocolatey flavor mixed with other cocoa–if a recipe with regular cocoa says to add espresso powder to enhance the cocoa flavor, I tend to substitute black cocoa in place of the espresso powder. (I’ve never had any luck using espresso powder for this, no matter how little I use I just get “coffee” instead of “enhanced chocolate”!)

  2. Elaine T

    We didn’t like black cocoa when we tried it. It gave a powdery flavor to everything. We normally use Bensdorp Dutch these days.

    For coffee we usually cut it down to about an eighth of what is called for and use just plain instant decaf, powdered at home. I’ve found it in sold in boxes full of single serving tubes which are handy for the purpose.

  3. Rachel

    That’s a great tip, Sandstone! I can never use espresso powder either, as the coffee flavor always comes through for me as it does for you. Plus I don’t like coffee. I’ll definitely start substituting black cocoa powder for espresso powder.

    I don’t perceive a powdery texture when using black cocoa, but I’ve only used it in cakes. Maybe that doesn’t happen with that kind of baking?

  4. Elaine T

    It was a chocolate fudge cake we noticed it in. The texture was definitely different from what it normally was with our regular cocoa. Shrug. Never tried again, although I suppose it might have been an off batch. We’ve found some chocolate that didn’t behave well ONE time but every other time it’s excellent. Might be the same with cocoas. Unfortunately you can’t tell until you bake with it that it’s going to be off. And when you haven’t a history of it normally being good, you aren’t going to want to try again with it.

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