Saturday, February 28, 2009

Feeling the DB love: Daring Baker’s February Challenge

In the spirit of being a tad but cliché, this month’s challenge includes hearts and chocolate, but the challenge is anything but ordinary for me. This month’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Valentino Cake with Homemade Ice Cream.

I was excited when I saw this challenge because 1) a good friend gave me a heart shaped cupcake/muffin silicon pan for my birthday and this was the perfect opportunity to use it and 2) I was finally able to afford some fresh vanilla beans to give my ice cream that wonderful intense vanilla flavor and the little black dots.

Shockingly enough, I am not a huge fan of chocolate… waiting for the gasp heard round the world. I do eat chocolate, but I am not crazy about it. Further, when I eat chocolate I am totally Americanized and prefer milk chocolate… waiting for the those who have fainted to regain consciousness… So, for this challenge I used Semi-Sweet Ghirardelli Chocolate thinking I would try to cut the difference between dark and milk chocolate. The chocolate taste was still too intense for me, so next time I try this recipe I will do it with milk chocolate. Nevertheless, I am still super excited about the way the cake came out.

Now on to the ice cream. I was torn between wanting to try two different flavors. First, I decided to make Rum Ice Cream because I had rum extract at home and I love that buttery flavor. Then, when I was at Costco with a friend, I spotted affordable vanilla pods. Seeing as how I have never used a fresh vanilla pod, I immediately wanted to make Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. So, after going back and forth between which to make, I decided to split the recipe given in half and make both!

All-in-all great challenge! Be sure to check out the blogs of my fellow Daring Bakers.

Chocolate Valentino
I fourth the recipe given (using 1 large egg) and that yielded 4 hearts on my muffin pan. I cooked them for 18 minutes.

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

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. {link of folding demonstration}
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.
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.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Recipe
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 vanilla pods

1. Scrap the vanilla pods and add it to the half and half and cream. Place the vanilla pods in the mixture and microwave until warm.
2. Remove the vanilla pods and mix in the rest of the ingredients with a beater.
3. Refrigerate the mixture until it is cool about 1-2 hours.
4. Place the mixture in the freezer.
5. Every 45 minutes take the mixture out the freezer. Scrape the ice from the sides and the bottom into the center of the bowl. Mix thoroughly with a beater. Repeat for 4-5 cycles of 45 minutes.
6. Let the ice cream complete freeze through, at least 4-6 hours, but best over night.

Rum Ice Cream Recipe
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 Tbs + 1/8 Tbs rum extract

1. Mix together all the ingredients and beat with a beater. Don’t worry about all the brown sugar, it will dissolve before it starts to freeze.
2. Refrigerate the mixture until it is cool about 30 minutes.
3. Beat the mixture with a beater and place the mixture in the freezer.
4. Every 45 minutes take the mixture out the freezer. Scrape the ice from the sides and the bottom into the center of the bowl. Mix thoroughly with a beater. Repeat for 4-5 cycles of 45 minutes.
5. Let the ice cream complete freeze through, at least 4-6 hours, but best over night.

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.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

V-Day Baking

Happy V-day. To celebrate my day I did a 4 mile walk/run to benefit Legal Services of Northern California. It was a lot of fun and supported a great cause. Most importantly, it did not rain so I did not have to fear catching pneumonia.

But I digress, that is not the point of this post. So, ON TO THE BAKING!

For V-day I wanted to make something I usually make special and a completely new recipe.

Red Velvet Bon-Bons
Is it cake? Is it candy? Is it the best of both worlds? YES! I saw a recipe for red velvet cake balls on Bakerella’s site well over a year ago. When it was warm, I did not want to tackle the recipe and worry about the chocolate not setting up in my warm apartment. Then as the weather got cold, I forgot that I wanted to make these. Then low-and-behold V-Day 2009 rolled around and I thought the red center to a classic V-day treat would be awesome.
Everyone loved these, so I will definitely be making them again in the future. I would like to tweak the recipe some, so stay tuned.
Deconstructed Chocolate chip Cookies
I make regular chocolate chip cookies all the time with great results. So to change it up I wanted to deconstruct the cookie, i.e.- make a chocolate chip cookie batter (yes, it is different than a sugar cookie batter) without the chocolate chips, then place the chocolate on the outside. The results are okay, but when making the dough I should have decreased the margarine in the batter. The cookies spread a lot while cooking and spread out thinner than I would have liked. Therefore, I made these smaller cookies, instead of the giant ones I had planned.
They still tasted fantastic and if I did not tell you right above that I wanted to do something different no one would have known the difference, but I believe in transparency. Maybe someone else can learn from my mistakes :-)

On a slightly me tooting my own horn moment. At the race I went to today there was a table set up selling homemade chocolate chip cookies. One of the girls at the table said they were the best she ever tasted. My friend and I politely declined and walked away. Then my friend turned to me and said, “she hasn’t tasted yours!” That made me smile. So, I just had to share that moment. I love to bake and I love that people love what I bake.