May 27, 2009

Win Your Weight In Chocolate Competition

I was rummaging through a neglected, dusty pile of old folders, when a bright, pink folder caught my eye. A smile sprung to my face as I pulled it out and opened it up to the first page. The events of that day came flooding back. It was 13 years ago, goodness that long ago. May 31st 1996 to be precise.

On the afternoon of May 30th I was driving home with a car full of groceries glad to be supermarket free for the next few days. After unloading and packing groceries away, I sat down with a cup of tea to read some of the newspaper before setting about to cook the dinner.

This very small segment captured my attention.

I read it and I turned the page. I flipped the page back and read it again. Goodness this challenge is tomorrow. No way, not enough time. I turned the page and tried to forget it. But I couldn't. It kept niggling away at me, this little voice saying 'you need to do this'. For about an hour I tossed up in my mind the reasons for why "I should" and the reasons for why "I shouldn't".

After all this mulling, I snapped. I'm doing it. Crazily I recall dashing through the cupboard searching for all the "cakey ingredients I might require. I didn't have enough cooking chocolate or pouring cream. I was literally assembling the cake in my mind and I kid you not, I had never before made the creation that was evolving.

Since the theme was chocolate, I imagined a zesty orange, grated chocolate sponge, split and filled with alternating layers of chocolate creme patissiere and jaffa chocolate mousse, covered with grand marnier cream and decorated with lacey chocolate triangles and whole cumquats piped with extra dark chocolate. Not so hard; right?

Damn, I had to race back to the shops. And race I did. I was in mission impossible mode now.

After dinner was over my cake making marathon commenced. By midnight I had the baked cake back in it's plastic film covered tin with four layers of the fillings as I described. I rested a plate on top to assist with the pressing and in the fridge she went. Tomorrow (actually today as it had just passed midnight), I'll finish assembling it.

Next morning I recall not getting much sleep and I got up feeling really nervous and edgy. Pulling cumquats off the tree, beating cream, piping chocolate I wasn't feeling any better, infact I started to get shaky. What the hell? I remember thinking I should call the whole thing off and just let the kids tuck into this "monster" because this amount of stress was just not worth it. I decided that if I wasn't satisfied with the end result then that is exactly what I would do. That helped a little. I completed the cake, took a good hard look at it and decided she was going to compete.

Just after ten o'clock I said I was going to drop off the cake when low and behold everyone decided they would come too. My husband backed out the car a little too fast for my liking and I bit his head off. Take it easy!!!!!!!! I shrieked. After all my effort how could he be soooo inconsiderate. (Actually I am laughing my head off right now remembering how seriously I took the whole silly thing). Sigh.

We got our cake there at 10.30am. The people there began to deliberate about which category my cake should go in. I said the cake section. They disagreed and put it in the dessert section. On closer inspection of the entries there, the desserts were by far the nicer. That'd be right. Just my luck to put me in the hardest category. We went home. Back for the judging at 2.30pm.

Well that had to be the longest three hours of my life. I had never entered anything before or done anything like this. I recall seeing my eldest daughter Larissa pacing up and down the hall and in the lounge with her eye constantly on the clock. I think it was the longest three hours of her life too. The thing is, when we were there she had thoroughly checked out the other entries and became very excited because she really thought I was going to win!

The others were quite normal and acted as though nothing majorily exciting was happening. Infact my seven year old son was mightily miffed that we would be going back for what he considered to be a total waste of time. Playing leggo was much more appealing to him.

Armed with a camera (just in case) we headed off for the judging. Now I should explain that there were three categories; the slice category, the cake category and the dessert category. The winner of each section would win a ten kilo block of solid Cadbury milk chocolate. The overall supreme winner would win their weight in assorted Cadbury chocolate. Holey dooley. Unimaginable.

As the crowd gathered and waited for the announcements I remember feeling excited that I had done this and whatever the outcome, at least I had participated and I was happy with my entry. You can only do your best.

As the slice and cake winners stood on the stage, the dessert winner was announced last. It was me. To top it off, I was the supreme winner too. I had to stand on the scales before everyone while the radio announcer declared I weighed 65.2 kilos. Yep. I feel flushed actually remembering it all. But what I remember more than anything was the relief on Larissa's face and the feeling that her belief in me paid off. That was probably the best feeling of all.

Three days later my prize was delivered; 66kgs of chockies.

The ten kilo block we took home that day so we could begin celebrating right away. Check out the three happy faces with little Nikka's eyes set firmly on the prize.

That was my year of chocolate. I remember I gave away heaps; for raffles at the school; for teachers to use as rewards for kids and to friends and relatives. I recall with fondness as I took over a load for my neighbour Gayle and her brood of five kids. I think they all thought Christmas had come early that year.

But the funniest thing was instead of having a fruit bowl on the kitchen table for a year, we had a chocolate bowl. We stored the chocolate in the garage in a cool spot so it didn't spoil, and I topped up our "fruit" bowl regularly. Years later my son confessed to going in the garage and nicking the Cherry Ripes because they were his favourite. I should have reminded him about his "waste of time" comment regarding the contest. So so funny.

Well there is my "nostalgia" post for today. A wonderful trip down memory lane. Sweet memories. Literally sweet memories. And may I mention the beginning of my run of entering competitions. Food magazines had just begun to emerge at this time and competitions were regularly run. For five years I had lots of fun and that is why I have a competition folder. It contains the results of my successful entries.

Today I share with you my very first win but also my most affectionate win; mainly because of the joy it brought my kids. And others too. But mostly for the joy it brought me in giving and sharing.

As I turn the page of my dusty pink folder I see other times that brought me so much pleasure. I think I have bored you all enough for today and will save that for another time. In the meantime I shall leave you with a little clue? How does meeting Jamie Oliver sound.


  1. Never would I be happier to be overweight than if I were to be given my weight in chocolate!

  2. What a fabulous story. After drooling over the comfort food post and being so impressed with your I understand why all your cakes look so yummy.I bow to you "Sweet Queen". Are all your cakes and desserts a success or do you eat your way through the good, the bad and the ugly like we mere mortals :-)

    Linda.......Jaffa chocolate mousse mmmmmmmmmmm

  3. A lovely story Mariana, as usual. Your kids certainly look happy in that picture! I bet you were the darling of the neighbourhood that year, with your garage full of choccies.

  4. I know Catherine. I experienced the feeling. For no less than a whole year.

    Oh dear Linda, you made me laugh out so loud that my daughter came running to see if I was alright. I'm gushing with all your kind words. I don't think I would be human if I didn't have my fair share of 'letdowns'. These days I fare rather well though - I think they call it practise!

    Well you got that right Debora. I did seem to have lots of friends that year. I wonder where they've all gone now. Hehe. Glad you dropped by.

  5. Well, well, well.
    That nearly brought tears to my eyes.
    What a wonderful recollection of the greatest day in all of history!!

    Course I had belief in yah, Ma. Always have, always will. :)

    P.S. If I wasn't the daggiest kid ever, then I've no idea who was. I like to think I've improved!


  6. Hi there my sweet. Its funny how I managed to recall so much about that experience. Such a sentimental time; wasn't it just grand!
    Out of you three kids I remember you the most; I actually spent time trying to reduce your anxiety you were that worked up - even more than me! Haha.
    Speaking to Nikka about it, she said she remembered walking into the garage and seeing boxes and packets of chockies and thinking it was a child's fantasyland. Isn't that so cute?

    PS: I see Nikka wearing homemade leggings, you wearing one of my designer skirts and no you weren't the daggiest; Im sure The Borb takes that one and thank god the block of chocolate covered him up. I imagine he was wearing ripped dinosaur multi coloured shorts with one of those awful fluro tops I made back then. We certainly didn't dress up for the occasion thats for sure!

    I'm so very pleased this recollection touched you. Lots of love my precious one - Mama.

  7. You didn't bore me at all!I loved that story. That's so cool, thats something they don't do these days, fun contests like that. I love going through old pictures i have been doing a lot of that lately. and the muffins were really fluffy and nice. :)

  8. Awww you are such a sweetie Baking Monster. Thank you. And yes I couldnt agree with you more about the contests these days. I used to have a ball with the twenty five words or less comps that were based on literay and creative merit or the ones like above that relied on a great recipe. These days they are pretty much based on 'enter the draw' comps and as such I have stopped entering. Ahh those were the days!

  9. You are not kidding Licked spoon ! I was her neighbour and my son became her best friend over night!! (remember Simon) That was just the greatest thing I had ever heard of happening and it gave me a lot of pleasure to see you win it as well as to the pleasure sampling it!!

  10. Ahh weren't they fun times stormygayle. Yes I do remember your Simon having lots of time for me after that event. I can assure you the highlight of the entire experience was in me sharing it with all of you more than anything else.
    Love Mariana