I am sort of embarrassed to admit this, but I joined this on-line baking group called "Daring Bakers," which I found because I noticed that some of the blogs I ended up on when I googled things like "pumpernickel flour substitute" had references to it. It's basically a group of people with blogs involving baking or food who all bake the same thing once each month. A couple of members choose a recipe for the entire group, and you are supposed to make it at some point during the month and then post it on a designated day (yesterday! I hope I'm not on the outs already). There are some pretty lengthy rules about posting that I am still not entirely clear on. For example, we are required to post the following statement with this month's flourless chocolate cake and ice cream recipes:
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.There is also a website for members with forums with people fielding questions about baking and cooking.
I was feeing a bit skeptical until I started in on it and looked at this month's host Dharm's blog for guidance on how the cake should look when it came out of the oven (answer: sort of still wet and wobbly in the center). I found out that Dharm is a dad of two cute kids in Kuala Lumpur who recently posted a chocolate layer cake he made from a recipe he found in a 1978 edition of Australian Women's Weekly. How can you not love that? So I am sold again. Plus, I brought the cake and ice cream over to our new friends' house for a (pretty fantastic) pot luck dinner, and it was a hit. I respond very well to positive feedback, and they gave me a lot of it. Hostess Priyanka took this picture for me. I made the cake, plus a coconut ice cream with candied ginger (they gave you leeway on the ice cream part). I had extra heavy cream so we made whipped cream, too--which was unnecessary but always good.
The cake has just three ingredients: chocolate, butter and eggs. The tricky part is beating the egg whites and folding them into the chocolate/egg mixture -- on the first try I let the eggs sit too long and they separated, so I had to beat a new batch and added some cream of tartar that time. It worked. Second tip is to use the best chocolate you can afford -- it will (as the Daring Bakers instructions told me) taste exactly like whatever you use. I went part expensive chocolate, part cheap.
The ice cream is easy enough, but making a custard base always means hovering over the stove for a while. Good study break. I used the opportunity to test out the confection thermometer I've had for years without using (not sure where it came from), and turns out that yes, the custard does seem to thicken considerably somewhere between 150 and 170 degrees. Very cool.
Here are the recipes, the cake from DB and the ice cream adapted from Peggy Fallon's Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts:
Flourless Chocolate Valentino Cake
- 16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped. [I used 1/2 Valrhona from Trader Joe's, and 1/2 nestle chocolate chips; 3/4 semisweet and 1/4 bittersweet]
- ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter [I accidentally skimped on the butter by those extra 2 tablespoons and didn't notice until just now]
- 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.
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 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – 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.
Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.
Coconut Ginger Ice cream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 14oz can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons candied ginger (for a garnish or to mix in, or more if you want)
So that's my first Daring Bakers challenge. Happy Sunday!
Heat the cream, coconut milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan until the sugar melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
Beat the egg yolks, and very slowly whisk in a cup of the warm cream to heat the eggs without cooking them.
Add the egg/cream mixture slowly into the remaining warm cream and coconut milk and return to the heat, stirring regularly until the custard thickens and coats a spoon.
Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Cover and let come to room temperature, and then chill in the fridge for a few hours or up to a couple of days.
When ready to freeze in an ice cream machine, add a teaspoon of vanilla and the diced ginger (if mixing in), combine well and freeze according to your machine's directions. Return to teh bowl and leave in teh freezer for a while if you have the time.