Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Valentino

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. They 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.

The rules were as follows:
Bake the Chocolate Valentino and serve with homemade ice cream
any flavor we choose.

The challenge mentioned that it would be best to select high-quality chocolate as the cake would taste exactly like the chocolate used. Knowing this, I went on a search for any of the top three: Valrhona, Callebaut or Scharffen Berger.

My local grocery store doesn't carry these so I wound up searching Chowhound for any suggestions on buying chocolate locally. Luckily, I saw a thread regarding Trader Joe's and their chocolate selection. The only Trader Joe's in the area is a few towns away, but not too far to go for good chocolate.

When I walked into the Trader Joe's on a busy Saturday morning, I wandered about looking for the chocolate. I eventually found the Valrhona, but only in small bars. I combed the store up and down before finally asking an employee for help. He managed to find some tiny bars of
Scharffen Berger for me but no luck on the Callebaut. He then recommended that I try the Trader Joe's brand of imported dark chocolate. It comes in "more than a pound" bars and, in his words, "we don't put crap in our chocolate!"

So here was my choice, spend a gazillion dollars on little bars of high-quality chocolate or spend $4 on the Trader Joe's brand. What to do?

Buy all three, of course!

I planned to make the cake three times and taste test the difference between the brands. Um, yeah, that didn't happen.

So, in the end, I made it once using the Trader Joe's chocolate. I'll have to find something else to make with my one pound each of Valrhona and Scharffen Berger.

Poor me. = )

A traditional Valentino is baked in a heart shaped pan, but I wasn't about to buy one just for this so I used my 8" x 8" square pan – I love that pan.

Chocolate Valentino (
Flourless Chocolate Cake)
Source: Sweet Treats by Chef Wan
16 ounces (1 pound) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons 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 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold gently 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 375 degrees F for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140 degrees F. (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.

For a long time now, I had my eye on a Cuisinart ice cream maker. I had added it to my Amazon wish list but held off buying it. I was worried that I'd have no room for it in my teeny kitchen and that either I'd never use it, or I'd use it too much. (Moderation? What's that?!) Well when this challenge was announced, I knew the time was right and made my purchase!

Ideas were zooming through my mind for different flavors I'd like to try. Ultimately, I gave a list of about 10 options to Matt and let him choose.

When he took his first bite of this ice cream, he said, "let's never buy ice cream again!"

Now that's some good stuff!

Peppermint Patty Ice Cream
Adapted from Elise at SimplyRecipes (who got help from David Lebovitz)
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/2 cup chopped peppermint patties

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan making sure the sugar and salt dissolve completely.

Pour the cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a mesh sieve on top. (I used a colander lined with cheesecloth.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Temper the yolks by slowly pouring the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream. Then stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill mixture over night in the refrigerator.

One the mixture is thoroughly chilled, add peppermint extract, a 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until you reach the desired flavor.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Once the ice cream reaches a soft-serve consistency, add your chopped peppermint patties. Move to an airtight plastic container and place a layer or plastic cling wrap on the surface of the ice cream. Place in the freezer (not in the door) for at least an hour, preferably several hours.

To serve, take the ice cream out and let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes or so to soften a bit.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Another great challenge for the Daring Bakers. I loved making my own ice cream and plan to make a lot of it in the coming months so stay tuned!

Be sure to check out the blogroll to see what variations the other Daring Bakers came up with this month!