Info for February:
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.
The recipe itself could not be simpler (and I made it even more simple), which was perfect for someone coming back from a 2-month hiatus. It uses 3 -- count 'em -- 3 ingredients: chocolate, eggs, and butter. As you can imagine, the quality of your ingredients matter a lot in this flourless cake; if one things tastes off, the whole thing is off. The original challenge stated that the finished cake would taste exactly like the chocolate used, and that cannot be emphasized enough. If you're a chocolate connoisseur, you'll probably need to use the super pricey stuff -- but you'll be amply rewarded.
Rather than go through the whole double boiler scenario, I melted my chocolate and butter by microwaving. I was very careful about this, only microwaving for 30-40 seconds at a time, and mixing after each time, to make sure the chocolate wouldn't burn and to fully incorporate the butter. I found that this also made the chocolate just warm, rather than hot, just enough so that it's melted. That was very helpful when adding the egg yolk, as I didn't have to worry about them curdling.
I loved the "batter," so creamy and gorgeously brown. I even loved it after folding in the egg whites and it looked grainier. I'm normally not a fan of licking the spoon or tasting batter (I know, I'm weird right? But I can usually taste the flour in it, and that's just kind of yucky), but that wasn't the case with this cake.
It was optional to use a heart-shaped pan (though if I'd been making this for anyone than just me, I might have tried to go find and buy such a pan), so I opted to bake mine as little cakes in ramekins -- a good choice actually, as right out of the oven, they had risen like little soufflés. And in fact, they sink with time just like soufflés as well.
I probably should have eaten them right in the ramekin, but mindful that this was supposed to be a cake, I tried to remove them from their baking dish and plate them ... not my best idea. It all fell apart (though that didn't make it any less tasty).
It's so cold here right now that I really could not imagine making ice cream (plus I have one of those tiny freezers that's already packed with all the stuff I freeze and forget about), so I also opted to make the suggested alternative of whipped cream, warmed up some strawberry rhubarb jam, and topped the cake with that. The cream, the tang from the jam, and the chocolate combination was wonderful.
The cake was so rich and so chocolatey, however, that I could not eat more than two of them (hence my wish that I were more of a chocolate lover -- or at least that I had a roommate or something who could have helped me finish).
Chocolate Valentino from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan of Malaysia
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
- 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. (Or you can do what I did; place the chocolate and butter in a microwafe-safe bowl and microwave 30-40 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until the mixture is fully melted and incorporated. If you do this correctly the chocolate will be just melted and won't be super hot, which is good for the egg step.)
- 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 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°F/190°C
- 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.)
- Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.