Yes, it’s that time of the month again – the Daring Bakers Challenge! Yesss, it’s another challenge where the difficulty factor wasn’t high, once again making it easy for me to participate without having to set knee in the kitchen, or for my helpers to have to set foot in the kitchen more than a few times. The main component of this month’s challenge contains only 3 ingredients, yep, just three ingredients – chocolate, butter and eggs. The second component (which I’m absolutely sure isn’t second to most people) is something I could cook, but it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Well, I guess the title kind of gave it away, but hey, I need some kind of intro.
First off, I must add this paragraph so the DB-BOT will sense my participation and put me on it’s good baker list. It knows if I’ve been bad or good so I’ll be good for goodness…oh, wait, I’m confusing ‘it‘ with someone else. Here goes…
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge. Thank you for a great challenge, Dharm and Wendy! (That’s me thanking them – NOT part of THE paragraph).
OK, done! Seriously, though, I think it’s a great idea, and it’s so helpful to Lisa and Ivonne in keeping up with who’s still in it, and who isn’t, not to mention those who have ‘cut class’ without a note, more than several times!
Truth be told, I’m not a fan of dark (bittersweet) or even semisweet chocolate, I can tolerate semisweet, but I don’t know what it is, other than being born without a dark chocolate gene. Regardless, I still bake with both quite a bit because people like it, they really like it! For this challenge, I decided to keep the dark chocolate to a minimum.
I baked two flourless (Valentino) cakes, the first being a white chocolate-dark chocolate layered dealypoo. I split the master batter in two, 8 oz of each chocolate, and just dropped alternating spoonfuls of white chocolate and dark chocolate batter into the pan,, for Valentine’s Day, and last week as yet another thank you gift to some of my helpers who came for dinner, a milk and dark chocolate Valentino, not layered or split, just melted together with the butter.
White chocolate really isn’t suited for a flourless chocolate cake because well, it isn’t chocolate and the cocoa butter content is very high. However, not being one to give up before actually testing something (unless it resembles a grenade or has a skull and crossbones on it), I went ahead with it. Guess what? It worked. You just need to work that confection like a cheap slu..ok, I’ll keep it G-rated – like cream to butter.
Here’s the main caveat when you use white chocolate – the chocolate separates and curdles when you incorporate the egg yolks. Don’t be alarmed and give up, just keep mixing it and it’ll eventually come back together. The second caveat is that as it comes back together, it starts to firm up.
NO worries, because once you fold in the egg whites, it loosens up again. The last caveat is that the white chocolate batter is much looser than the batter using real chocolate. I originally wanted to do a zebra drop layering, but the dark chocolate batter didn’t spread nearly as much as the white chocolate batter, so I ended up (as I mentioned above) just alternating heaping tabelespoons of batter on top of one another in a rustic (aka sloppy) manner. I kind of left it up to the baking gods after that.
The end result was most of the the dark chocolate batter sinking to the bottom while most of the white chocolate batter rose to the top. It was perfectly fine though, as it still resulted in a pretty presentation and most importantly, tasted great! Surprisingly it set up really well. I was initially apprehensive due to a few daring DB’ers encountering runny interiors when cutting into their white chocolate Valentino’s after it seemed set. No idea why it worked for me, but here’s what I did in my attempt to tame that cantankerous confection for this preparation…
- I used Callebaut white chocolate (actually, it was all I had on hand)
- Mixed the heck out of the white chocolate-butter amalgamation after adding the egg yolks.
- Lightened the batter with a little more than a third of the egg whites, then folded in the rest
- Baked it for 30-32 minutes instead of the 25 stated in the recipe, and after letting it set at room temperature, refrigerated it overnight.
That’s it, and it was perfect – perfect enough to stick with a Valentine’s Day motif by cutting hearts out of the cake. I got a total of four 3-inch whimsical hearts from the 8-inch round cake, and the scraps were up for grabs!
The next part of this challenge was to make an ice cream to go along with the cake. We were given two great vanilla ice cream recipes by Wendy and Dharm, one a precooked custard, the other a no cook mixture, prior to freezing. However, we were given free reign to use any ice cream recipe or come up with one of our own. Naturally I chose a no cook recipe as simplicity is exponentially key for me now, and not sure my electric fondue pot would have held all the ingredients for the cooked version, lol!
The recipe I chose was one I’ve been using for years from my old standby site, Epicurious.com – a simple cream cheese ice cream that’s uber creamy and so incredibly smooth on the palate. I felt the light tang of the cream cheese would pair well with the extremely rich, dense cake. I put my own take on it by adding chopped strawberries, a touch of lime.
I also decreased the sugar since I felt it didn’t need as much as the recipe listed. Unfortunately, my ice cream bowls had been placed in a part of the freezer near the door where they never freeze up enough since the door is opened quite a bit. I didn’t realize this until I heard that liquidy sound during the churning. I removed the bowl and took some photos of the liquid ice cream anyway, not thinking I would use any of them, but one of the photos came out kind of cool, so I did (see above, next to the frozen heart by itself).
After taking the photos, I poured the ice cream into a container and stuck it in the fridge so I could freeze it the next day, after the bowl was properly frozen in the RIGHT part of the freezer! Thankfully, everything turned out well, and the ice cream froze just fine the next day.
I packed some of the ice cream into heart shaped molds for the final freeze (not that it mattered, since my frozen hearts started to melt into a puddle of goo the minute I started taking pictures), since I was going for Valentine kitsch. OK, kitsch is an understatement! Everything about my presentation was less than original, everything epitomizing Valentine’s Day – from the chocolate dipped strawberries to the heart shaped cakes and ice cream to the chocolate straws and strawberry-raspberry coulis.
Red, pink, chocolate, hearts GALORE!! It doesn’t get anymore Valentine than that! However, I was a little more creative with the dark chocolate-milk chocolate cake, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that one, since I plan on blogging about it next time!
Speaking of presentation, I topped each heart with chocolate ganache, then placed it on a grid of 4 chocolate straws. I placed the ice cream heart on it’s side and gave it a drizzle of strawberry-raspberry coulis (HA! A bleeding heart – I should have called the plate ‘MY HEART BLEEDS FOR YOOOU!), with a few extra dots outside the chocolate grid. A white and dark chocolate dipped strawberry was the final touch. Original or not, it reeked of love and was enjoyed immensely. In the end, that’s all that mattered.
- 16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped *
- ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
- 5 large eggs separated
- Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
- While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
- Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
- Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
- With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
- Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
- Fold in ⅓ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining ⅔rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan ¾ of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
- Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. **
- Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.
** If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet, when it's done.
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from one vanilla bean
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1¼ cups chopped strawberries
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
- Blend cream cheese, milk, lime juice, vanilla, sugar, and salt in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, then stir in cream, strawberries, and lime zest. Chill mixture in covered bowl in the fridge for at least two hours to overnight.
- Once mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze in ice cream maker following manufacturer's directions.
- Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours. Let ice cream soften 5 minutes before serving.
Be sure to check out the magnificent creations by my fellow Daring Bakers by clicking on the links to their blogs at the Daring Bakers Blogroll site!