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Daring Bakers’ February Challenge

As I mentioned some time ago, I joined the Daring Bakers for (hopefully) just a bit more challenge in the kitchen.  This month's recipe isn't the least bit challenging, but tasty if you like heavy, dense chocolate flavors.

For the Love of Chocolate

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.
It is noted that this cake will taste exactly like the chocolate you use, so use your favorite.  I used semisweet since I was making a sweet ice cream to go with, but if I were to make this again, we would definitely go to Webb's to pick up their dark chocolate (which is The Best In The World, and yes, I have been all over Europe and can still say that) and make even smaller portions.

Chocolate Valentino

  • 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
Preparation Time:  20 minutes
  1. 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.
  2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
  3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
  4. 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). 
  5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
  6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
  7. 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. 
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
  9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. 
  10. 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.
  11. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.
I used an oversized muffin pan for mine.  Just out of the oven:  

baked

And now displaying the regulation depression in the middle as the cooled cakes condense:  

cooled

 

Strawberry Ice Cream

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar in a mixing bowl, set aside in fridge for 1 hour.
  2. In large mixing bowl beat eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Gradually add 3/4 cups sugar, mixing well. Stir in milk and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Add strawberries with juice and mix well.
  5. Gently stir in whipping cream just until combined.
  6. Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.

Plating

As I said, the recipes themselves were not much of a challenge at all, but presentation always should be, and that's where I concentrated most of my effort.  After wandering the Internets viewing innumerable desserts (the Wilton site is very useful for ideas), I decided on chocolate forms for garnish.  Some of the prettiest examples obviously used a lace doily for inspiration, but since I am just not a doily kind of girl (and at one time used to actually be considered an "artist"), I went with freehand. For the chocolate I used a half cup of milk chocolate chips, mixed with a scant teaspoon of Crisco, and piped out a variety of designs using a small, round tip.  (The fat is to make the chocolate both shinier and easier to pipe, it sets up just fine in the freezer.)  The best platform for this is a quarter sheet pan, turned upside down, with wax paper taped to it.  Draw your forms with pencil (on the other side of the paper), or just freehand them, then pipe the chocolate over top.  I made a lattice heart, several swirly things, and this rose:  

garnish

When Girlchild saw the rose she said, "I thought this was supposed to be a flower-less cake."   She's funneh. I used the remainder of the melted chocolate to dip some of the leftover strawberries, and then plated up the whole deal like so:  

plated

For all that I am utterly devoted to chocolate in all its incarnations, flourless cakes are not my favorite thing in the world, I've discovered.  It was tasty enough, particularly with the sweet strawberry ice cream atop it, but so very HEAVY that it was pretty much overpowering.  Smaller portions (petit four size) would definitely be a good idea if you're serving this.  

eaten

Ok, bring on the next challenge!