Over the last few years I’ve developed several oddball allergies: Dust mites. Benzoyl peroxide. Gold (yes, gold, not nickel. My dermatologist was shocked—I’m the only person he’s ever seen who’s actually allergic to gold.). Most recently, wine. That last one is really killing me—drinking a glass of good red wine, with or without a meal, is one of life’s great pleasures. I feel like I’ve lost a friend. I miss it, but I live without it.
So for all those annoyances, why, oh why can’t I be allergic to chocolate? In my fat childhood I’d often wish for hives to appear after scarfing down my second Marathon Bar (and those babies weren’t easy to scarf, let me tell you). An allergic reaction seemed like the only thing that might stop me. There was a girl in my class who had such an allergy, and at birthday parties she always got special treatment—there’d be a vanilla cupcake for her, or some other treat to make up for missing out on the good stuff. I was so jealous. Whatever she had, I wanted.
Don’t get me wrong: I know chocolate is the good stuff. The darker, the richer, the smoother, the better. That’s exactly the problem: I have a hard time getting through the day without a hit of the brown smack. I want to stay away; I know if I stay away I’ll be happier, thinner, more in control, but I just can’t. If there were such a thing as chocolate methadone, I’d be first in line. And don’t give me any of that “oh, a small piece of high-quality dark chocolate is enough to satisfy me” crap. I tried it. Kept a 9-ounce bar of Scharffen-Berger 70% in the cabinet, and shaved off half an ounce at a time with my big chef’s knife. I’d lick my fingertip and dip it in the little pile of shavings, savoring the intoxicating ripples that flowed through my body as it melted on my tongue. For a while, it worked. And then it didn’t. I’d hack off hunks and devour them, standing in my kitchen, barely even tasting it. I forced myself to stop buying the big bars. When I’m really on a tear, as I was until recently, most discriminatory abilities go out the window. I’ll eat Tootsie Rolls until my jaw aches. A handful of chocolate chips from the pantry, then another. Peanut M&Ms by the pound. Those individually-wrapped chocolate-covered cherries, the ones with the syrupy glop inside. Interestingly, even when I’m on a chocolate binge a Hershey Bar holds little appeal.
And now I’m back on Weight Watchers, where chocolate is allowed (everything is allowed, as long as it fits into your program). The problem is, once I have a little I just want more. I bought WW’s faux candy bars, and they’re actually ok when there’s nothing else around, but… I miss the richness of cake, the satisfaction of baking something myself, measuring the ingredients, putting them together, witnessing the alchemy of butter and sugar and flour and eggs—and chocolate. Twice this week I’ve bought a slice of chocolate yogurt loaf at the deli. If you live in New York you know what I’m talking about: It’s usually up by the counter, very dark and moist-looking, about an inch thick, wrapped in saran. It’s good. Crazy good. So crazy good that I know it can’t really be virtuous, even though it’s got “yogurt” in its name. I decided to make it myself.
Here’s the recipe I came up with, inspired by a couple different sources. The smell while it’s baking is hypnotic, I’m telling you. I wanted to run into the kitchen, yank open the oven, and stick my face into its chocolatey, still-raw contents. And it tastes almost as good as the one I’ve been buying. It’s dark, and moist, and rich, but it stops just short of decadent. If I didn’t tell you it was dietlicious, you’d never guess.
According to WW’s recipe calculator, it’s only 3 points a serving. Of course, that assumes one has enough control to get twelve servings out of one itty bitty loaf… I may have made a terrible mistake.
Chocolate Yogurt Loaf
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ t. baking soda
½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
¼ cup dutch-process cocoa
5 T. unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 large egg
½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan and dust it with cocoa or flour.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder and set aside.
Mix the sugar into the butter. Add the vanilla and egg. Mix until uniform. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix. Then add about 1/3 of the yogurt, and mix. Do this again, then again. This batter will be stiff, but it should still mix easily. Don’t overmix.
Spread batter evenly into prepared loaf pan, and bake on the center rack of the oven for 35-40 minutes [mine was done in 37]. Test with a cake tester or wooden skewer—loaf is done when tester comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool thoroughly. When fully cool, wrap the cake well to keep it from drying out.