Saturday, February 28, 2009

Flourless chocolate Valentino cake with raspberry cream and vanilla bean ice cream - Daring Baker's Challenge

Of course, for Valentine's Day you have to have chocolate! And what could be more chocolatey and more Valentine's Day-ey than a super-rich flourless chocolate cake, baked into a heart shape and served with a heaping spoonful of pink raspberry cream and homemade vanilla bean ice cream?

Not too much, I think!

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 challenge actually allowed you to make any kind of ice cream you wanted. However, due to the richness of the cake (it's just chocolate, butter, and eggs - mostly chocolate), I really couldn't bring myself to make anything other than vanilla ice cream. It was my first time making my own ice cream and it turned out fabulous, probably thanks to the usage of a real vanilla bean. In any case, now that I know I can make good ice cream without an ice cream maker I will certainly be making more once warmer weather arrives!

As for the cake, I decided to make two kinds - one with 70% Valrhona chocolate and one with 40% Valrhona chocolate. While the 40% cakes were pretty good, the 70% cakes were heavenly. Dense and moist and rich and soooo indulgent. Yum! If I were to make this again, I would definitely skip the 40% chocolate and just use the extra-dark chocolate.

I found some adorable little heart-shaped springform pans at Sur la Table and used them to make 4 little cakelets. My original plan had been to slice each cakelet into two and then layer them so that one half would be dark chocolate and one half would be not-so-dark chocolate, with raspberry filling in between and some more raspberry cream on top.

Unfortunately, the first little cakelet crumbled at my attempt to slice it so I had to give up on that idea and ended up mixing all my raspberry filling with the whipped cream to get a gigantic bowlful of bright pink cream, of which I used maybe a quarter... maybe.

However, everything tasted delicious, and even though Valentine's Day is long since past, if you want to show someone you really love them, this cake is a perfect way to do it!

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*

* I actually only made 4/5 of the recipe, after performing some complicated geometrical calculations involving my heart-shaped pans. For those who want to do so, the amounts are roughly:
120 g. butter
360 g. chocolate (or, when using 2 types of chocolate, 180 g. of each kind)
4 eggs

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.
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.

As for the vanilla ice cream, I mostly used Dharm's recipe, with a few variations. Namely: I did not add cornstarch because I didn't see a need for it, I strained the custard to get rid of clumps, and I did not whip the cream before adding it in because I wanted my ice cream to be as thick and creamy as possible - I am used to Italian gelato and don't want any airy, light ice cream! Here's the recipe, with notes on my variations.

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm) further modifications by me in purple

1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract) *You can substitute with vanilla extract if you realllly have to, but using a real vanilla bean makes a huge difference. As my Mom said, after you eat this you sort of recognize why other vanilla ice creams are called vanilla, but their flavor simply pales in comparison!
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk. *I also used whole milk
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch} *Left out without encountering any significant problems
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted - cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream. *I just used the heavy cream as I couldn't find any double cream. Like I said, I didn't whip it to make the ice cream denser and creamier, but I'm sure that had I been able to find double cream, it would have been even better!

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.

2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill. *At this point, I strained the custard to get rid of any lumps
5. By Hand: Whip 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. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse) *I did not whip the cream and just mixed it in. I also beat the ice cream more than twice while it was freezing - I tried to beat it every half hour for the first 2 hours and after that I think I beat it 2 or 3 more times before the 6 hours were up.
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

For the raspberry cream, I strained a package of frozen raspberries through a sieve, mixed with lemon juice, sugar, and some cornstarch, brought to a boil and then let cool while stirring with a whisk. Once the mixture was cool, I whipped up some cream and stirred in the raspberry mixture. Very simple, and very pink!


Lisa Michelle said...

Gorgeous job!! Love the color of the ice cream against the chocolate. Delicious!

Claire said...

What a pretty color! I love it...Bet it was fantastic.

Jenny said...

Beautiful flavor combo, perfect for the holiday.