Friday, February 27, 2009

For the Love of Chocolate & Ice Cream

"A box of surprising brandy cherry chocolates"
For the Love of Chocolate
Daring Bakers’ February 2009 Challenge

This box of chocolates holds a surprise for your love it is a flourless Chocolate cake coated with brandy cherry ice cream

Side View of the chocolate cake with the brandy ice cream coating
Cake coated in brandy-cherry ice cream
Coating the cake with ice-cream and berry sugar
The brandy cherry ice-cream waiting to be frozen to the correct shape
Close up of the flourless chocolate cake
The flourless chocolate cake

February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. The recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan

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.

Chocolate has many associations – godliness, health-giving, mood altering, and addicting. Bless the ancient Mayans and Aztecs for developing the cocoa bean into the delicious luxurious chocolate drink that the Spanish explorers brought back to Spain. How the Spanish kept chocolate a secret for 100 years is a mystery that perhaps can only be explained by the lack of the internet!
It is no wonder that February, the month for honouring love on St. Valentine’s Day, is best represented first by the heart and then by chocolate or better yet a chocolate heart. The potency and power of chocolate can only be rivalled by vanilla, and then they make a wonderful combination!

It is over 40C (105F) in Sydney so I decided on a heart-shaped 90% cocoa chocolate cake coated in brandy-cherry ice-cream.

I tasted a small piece of the cake scrapes it is so so so good - try to use the best ingredients because you will taste the difference - it was moist and so chocolate, since you don't use flour you only taste the chocolate and butter and the eggs just hold the air. A great cake it's texture is dense yet light it's hard to describe but it's wonderful. It sort of melts in the mouth and all you have left is chocolate on the tongue and on the mind - this is one cake I will be making again and again. I used 90% cocoa organic rain-forest chocolate and the best cultured butter (1% water content) I could get and freshly-lain eggs from a neighbour, I did only half the recipe and I baked it for 18 mins at 180C and it wasn't dry or wet just chocolate suspended in texture. A great cake.

We had the cake at a dinner party and the verdict was two thumbs up even a notoriously picky friend of mine stunned everybody by saying it was "good" (this silenced the group because she never says anything usually). My comments are that the cake tastes exactly the same as the chocolate you use so do use the best chocolate you can afford. And it is one of the best chocolate cakes I have had. I had frozen the cake overnight this didn't seem to make any different to the taste or texture that I could tell. It still was delightful. The combination of the bitter 90% cocoa chocolate and the brandy-cherry ice-cream made for a very adult (sophisticated) taste.

I used finely puréed brandy-cherries for the flavour base of the ice-cream (add 1/2 cup of finely pureed brandy cherries to the recipe below). Making the ice-cream - I did it in the freezer, I let the mixture sit the in frig overnight and placed it in a very heavy ceramic bowl that was pre-cooled in the freezer then I waited until a thick layer of ice had formed then scarped that into the centre of the mix and used a hand-held beater to beat air into the mix I repeated this 4 times every 1 hour and then I let it cool overnight in the freezer. It was a great colour and tasted of brandy and cherry and wasn't too sweet. I used thickened cream (easily available in Australia it has added gelatin) which stops ice crystals forming in the ice-cream.

The ice-cream was simple (I used thickened 40% fat cream) even if the heat was melting it too quickly.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 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 unmould.

Note on recipe - the recipe consists of 3 simple ingredients. The simplicity of this recipe gives credit to the ingredients much in the same way of French baguette.
-This recipe comes together very quickly with a hand mixer.
-This is a very decadent cake that will sink a little as it cools but will still hold its shape.
-Very dense and fudgy cake that tastes divine.
-The top forms a light crust kind of like a brownie.

Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of flavour base (in my case finely pureed brandy cherries)

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

If you need any tips on making ice cream WITHOUT an ice-cream maker see

Summary of main points
Step 1 – Follow the recipe then taste it and adjust to your liking. Remember when ice-cream is frozen it is a little less sweet.
Step 2 – Home-made ice-cream is smoother if it is frozen quickly because it has less ice crystals. So use chilled ingredients and containers and place the finished mixture if hot in the refrigerator until cold. If the finished mixture is whipped and cold place into freezer immediately.
Step 3 – Use a shallow container and surround the container with other frozen items to speed up freezing. The first stirring should take place (about 20 mins if mixture was cold when placed into freezer) when the mixture has a thick layer of ice crystals on the inside of the container. Use a scraper to scrape the ice into the centre and then beat with an electric hand-held beater to prevent more ice forming and to add air into the mixture. Repeat the scarping and beating process about 3 or 4 times every 20 mins until ice-cream is creamy smooth and fully frozen.

Ageing or ripening the Mix
The ice cream mix is best if it is aged or ripened (stored in the refrigerator) overnight. This improves the whipping qualities of the mix and the body and texture of the ice cream. If time does not permit overnight ageing, let the mix stand in the refrigerator for at least four hours. After the ageing process is completed, remove the mix from the refrigerator and stir in the flavouring.

A tip to avoid ice crystals: Add 1 envelope of unflavoured gelatin per 6 cups of ice cream mixture. Let the gelatin soften in 1/4 cup of the mixture, then gently heat it until it is dissolved. Add to the remaining mixture and proceed.

In Australia you can use thickened cream (it has added gelatin) and this will stop ice crystals from forming.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Polenta (Cornmeal) Pancakes

Polenta Pancakes

I was looking through the cupboard thinking of what to make for sweets after dinner. I saw some polenta and I thought "polenta pancakes". I didn't have a recipe I go by feel and texture when I make pancakes. These pancakes turned out crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They had a very intenste corn flavour due to the cornmeal and the cornflour and were yellow on the inside.

Recipe Makes 12 pancakes
1/2 cup polenta (cornmeal)
1/2 cup skim milk powder
1 cup of hot water
1/2 cup of corn flour (not starch)
1/4 cup of plain flour (all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons of corn oil (or vege oil)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoons of baking soda (bicarb of soda)
1 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons cream (or milk)

1. Place polenta and milk powder in small bowl, pour hot water mix and wait for 10 mins until the water has been absorbed by the polenta.
2. Mix and shift the flours, salt, sugar, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl.
3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture add the beaten egg and the polenta mix and stir until smooth and free of lumps and has the consistency of normal pancake batter. Add the extra cream (or milk) if the batter is too stiff.
4. Lightly grease a pan and use ¼ cups of batter and fry until bubbles form and then turn and cook for 1 minute.
5.Place onto covered plate in warm oven and proceed to finish the batter.
6. Serve with jam and whipped cream.