I have spent the last month or so reading the Divergent novels, a series of YA dystopian novels set in post apocalyptic Chicago. The series follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior as she explores her identity within a society that defines its citizens by their personality types and separates them into five factions: Amity, Candor, Erudite, Abnegation, and Dauntless. During the series the different factions attempt to control, destroy and dismantle the system. Amidst the societal chaos there is also a love story that develops between Tris and her Dauntless instructor, Four.
The series has been compared to other popular series’ such as The Hunger Games (which haven’t written about yet), and The Maze Runner (which I have written about here). It also has elements of The Giver and a few other novels thrown in for good measure. Overall, I think Veronica Roth paints a good futuristic picture with the series and handles the YA elements like love and loss in the novels really well.
Another of Roth’s strong points in the Divergent series is that she is able to describe life in the factions in a very fascinating way. She uses a common dystopian plot device and gets very specific with it. What type of clothes people wear, where they work, where they live, how they spend their time and what they eat is all determined by what faction they belong to. It is truly woven into a person’s identity.
The diets of the different factions I found particularly interesting; it’s basically an edible manifestation of their principle values. If one could imagine a faction as a meal or dessert, Roth does a great job of illustrating it. For example, Abnegation diet consists of things like chicken and peas with very little seasoning and no types of treats. This type of average meal parallels their beliefs in how they find things like treats to be self indulgent; something Abnegation does not support. The food consumed in each faction is an extension of what they represent; which brings us to Dauntless Chocolate Cake.
The food that the Dauntless eat is also symbolic of their image. Food mentioned in relation to the Dauntless are muffins, cheeseburgers and cake; items that can be viewed as indulgent, bold, and flavorful. The food consumed is done with enthusiasm and vigor, alluding to how the Dauntless do everything. They do not sit down to a meal simply for nourishment; it is an action that is meant to be experienced and enjoyed.
We find out later in the series that the cake served at the Dauntless compound is made from a mix. This seems fitting since I couldn’t picture the Dauntless engaging in creative recipe bulding. They are too efficient, not creative enough and would probably utilize any thing in order to get to the enjoyment phase of the meal faster.
So, I used a dark chocolate cake mix and mixed in two packets of dark chocolate fudge instant pudding to really boost the flavor. I rounded out the chocolate madness of this thing by adding a full cup of chocolate chips. My kids were standing next to the oven waiting for this thing to be ready!
I frosted it with a can of dark chocolate frosting. It doesn’t need frosting, but would a Dauntless only do this thing halfway? The flavor of this cake is a very intense chocolate with a moist texture. Delicious. This cake is even better the next day! If you follow me, you know I have made a couple chocolate cakes before. I enjoyed them all for obvious reasons but they all bring something special to the table. This one stands out as a rich, fudgy chocolate cake that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously; perfect for this YA series.
Dauntless Chocolate Cake
1 Box of Chocolate Cake Mix
2 packages of chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup of chocolate chips (optional)
1 can of dark chocolate fudge frosting
- Preheat oven to 325.
- In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mixes, eggs, water and oil.
- Beat on low for 30 seconds, beat on medium for 2 minutes. Batter will be very thick. Fold in chocolate chips if using.
- Pour into 2 8inch round pans. Bake for 60-65 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely. Frost with chocolate frosting.