Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Flourless Chocolate Cake and Homemade Ice Cream

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.

Yes, my friends, I have joined Daring Bakers. I've wanted to for some time now, and I'm really glad I joined this month because it was a great recipe. For those who don't know, at the beginning of every month the daring bakers are given a challenge recipe which is announced in the top secret member only forums, and then they bake it sometime throughout the month. No one outside the group is supposed to know what that month's challenge is until the daring bakers all blog about it on the same day. And today is that day, and blogging about it I am.
This cake was so good. I had never had a flourless cake before and I loved the simplicity and elegance of it. Seriously, there are only three ingredients in this cake. Is that not awesome? My only trouble was keeping myself from eating all the chocolate before I made the cake!
The second part of the challenge was optional, but you could make your own ice cream to go with your cake. And since ice cream is in my genes, how could I pass that up? I made vanilla ice cream using a real vanilla bean for flavoring. I have never used vanilla beans before and the experience was lovely. My house smelled so good for the rest of the day. I topped the ice cream and cake off with caramel sauce.
I definitely plan on making both this cake and the ice cream again. It was so simple and oh so good. Here are the recipes for both:

Chocolate Valentino (Flourless Chocolate Cake)
16 ounces (1 pound) chocolate, roughly chopped (you can use semisweet, milk, or a combination of both. I used Guittard milk chocolate chips and skipped the chopping.)
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 T. 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) or use a double boiler. Melt chocolate and butter, stirring often.
While your chocolate butter mixture cools, butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment. I used a heart shaped pan but you can use 6x8, 7x7, or an 8" round.
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 just until stiff peaks begin to form (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry). With the same beater, beat the egg yolks together. Slowly add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
Fold 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 375 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes or until top of the cake looks similar to a brownie and a toothpick inserted near the center appears slightly wet. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes, loosen edges with a knife and unmold.

Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
1 vanilla pod
1 1/4 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 T caster sugar (I blended regular sugar in a blender until fine and powdery)
1 t. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
3 T. butter

Using a small knife, slit the vanilla pod lengthwise. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan. Add the vanilla pod and bring to a boil Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife or spoon so that they fall back into the milk. Set the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to a boil.
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gently heat, stirring constantly.
When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Allow it to cool, then chill it in refrigerator.
Heat 1/4 cup of the heavy cream with 3 T. of butter until melted. Cool to room temperature and add to heavy cream in a slow, steady stream while mixing.
Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture in ice cream maker until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker).
If you don't have an ice cream maker you can make it by hand by whipping the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Place in freezer for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice during the freezing process to keep if from being icy and coarse.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oatmeal Scotchies Pan Cookies

I realize my posts lately haven't featured particularly elegant creations, but I guess I'm kind of on a sweet comfort food kick, and this falls into that category. I'm not sure if my brother Bryan created this recipe or if he just really loved to make these growing up, but these have been a family favorite for a long time. I love the combination of the butterscotch and chocolate chips and the kick of vanilla and cinnamon in the cookie, but I gotta be honest: my favorite thing about these cookies is that you put them in the pan, bake them, and you're done. Because sometimes you just need a cookie and don't feel like baking sheet after sheet. Hooray for the inventor of the bar cookie.

1 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
3 c. quick oats
1/2 pkg. chocolate chips
1/2 pkg. butterscotch morsels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl combine flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. In large bowl combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in oats and chips. Spread into greased 9x13" pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve plain or topped with ice cream and chocolate, caramel, or butterscotch sauce.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Iron Cupcake: Coffee (or Pero in my case)

I missed last month's Iron Cupcake deadline so I didn't get to post about my sparkling grape juice cupcakes, so this month I'm doing it early. February's Iron Cupcake ingredient was coffee which causes a few problems for me since I don't drink coffee for religious reasons and have a very limited knowledge of what flavors go well with it. Fortunately, Sandy in her awesomeness said it would be o.k. if I used a coffee substitute so I chose the one I grew up watching my dad drink, Pero. Using Pero instead of coffee, I created my entry this month, Tiramisu Cupcakes for the Non-Coffee Drinker:

Voting for this month's Iron Cupcake challenge will start no later than 8 p.m. on March 1st, so swing on by No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner around then to vote for your favorite three cupcakes. You can get there by clicking on this link or on my Iron Cupcake badge at the bottom of this page. Voting will go through March 6th at noon.
The prizes for winning are:
Something cool from DIANAEVANS
A pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES
A sweet art piece from CAKESPY
And as an added bonus for February, cupcake supplies complements of SWEET CUPPIN CAKES BAKERY AND CUPCAKERY SUPPLY
Last and certainly not least, corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, JESSIE STEELE APRONS, TASTE OF HOME books , and a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers,
Learn more at the Iron Cupcake Cuphub:

And now, the recipe:

Hot Milk Sponge Cake
2 eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 T. butter

Allow eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Line 12 muffin cups with foil* cupcake liners. Stir together flour and baking powder; set aside.
In a mixing bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed about 4 minutes or until thick. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed for 4-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture; beat on low to medium speed just until combined.
In a small saucepan heat and stir milk and butter until butter melts; add to batter, beating until combined. Pour batter into muffin tin filling each cup 1/2 full. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack. Remove from liners. Slice cupcakes into three horizontally so you will be able to layer the cake with the filling.
*Be sure to use foil liners. The cupcakes will stick too much to regular paper liners.

Tiramisu directions and assembly:
6 large egg yolks
3/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. milk
1 lb mascarpone cheese or 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 c. whipping cream
1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. sugar
1/4 c. Pero (I made it double strength) or strong coffee/espresso, chilled
1/8 t. rum extract mixed with 2 T. water
1 1/2 t. baking cocoa

In a 2-quart saucepan, beat egg yolks and sugar with wire whisk until well mixed. Beat in milk. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly; reduce heat to low. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Pour into medium bowl; place plastic wrap directly onto surface of custard mixture. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled.
Add cheese to custard mixture. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth; set aside.
In a chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar with electric mixer on high speed until stiff; set aside. In small bowl, mix Pero and rum extract/water mixture.
Place bottom slices of cupcakes in new foil liners*. Brush with Pero mixture (do not soak). Spread cheese mixture over bottom cupcake slices; spread with whipped cream. Repeat layers with another slice of cupcake, cheese mixture, and whipped cream. Sprinkle with cocoa. Refrigerate at least 4 to 6 hours to develop flavors but no longer than 24 hours. Store covered in refrigerator.
*Since you only use two cupcake slices per finished cupcake, you can use the remaining slice as a layer in another cupcake, meaning this recipe which makes 12 original cupcakes will stretch to make 18 once you do the layering. I hope that makes sense.