Daring Bakers: For the Love of Chocolate

My first Daring Bakers post! This is so exciting!! I don’t think I’ve ever used so many exclamation points before!!!

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The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s Blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. They 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.

This cake has three ingredients: chocolate, butter, and eggs. With something that basic, quality really matters. I used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, because that’s what I had in the house, and because three-quarters of my family really likes it. (All three of you loyal readers will know I’m the fourth quarter!) The resulting cake tasted exactly like that chocolate, but warmer and gooier. (That does not look like a word, but it is, according to the fine folks at Merriam-Webster.)

And because it tasted just like the chocolate, I really wasn’t terribly fond of it. It was interesting, and the texture was great. And it melded perfectly with the peppermint ice cream, but the cake on its own, not so much. Had I gone with the Trader Joe’s milk chocolate, or even better the absolutely amazing Icelandic milk chocolate I can get at Whole Foods on the extremely rare occasions that it’s on sale, I’d have loved it.

I was overruled, though. Everyone else loved it, including the four guests we had for dinner and dessert the night I made it. I didn’t interview the guests, but here’s what my people had to say:

Husband: It was semi-jelled pudding, in a good way.

#1 Son: Hugely rich, but gooey and wonderful too. Fantastic with the mint ice cream.

#2 Son: Delish. It was chocolate, but held together by butter and eggs! It was delicious. It was really good with the peppermint ice cream.

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So there you have it. Chocolate Valentino comes from Chef Wan’s Sweet Treats, which is apparently not easily available in the United States. Here’s your opportunity to try out one of the recipes without spending $55 for the one copy available at Amazon.com.

You can use any shape pan that gives you an area of about 50”; I used an 8-inch cake pan. A lot of people probably used heart-shaped pan, in keeping with the chocolate/Valentine’s Day thing, but I don’t have one.

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

  • Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
  • Put chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
  • While the chocolate-butter mixture is cooling, butter the pan and line it 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 until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry). Set aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks.
  • Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
  • Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then another 1/3, then the remaining 1/3. Fold until no white remains, being careful not to deflate the batter.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. The batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 140F/60C. 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.

The Daring Bakers challenge included ice cream. I love ice cream. I love making ice cream. The challenge provided two recipes for vanilla ice cream, classic (with eggs) and Philadelphia-style (without eggs). Until I discovered David Lebovitz‘s Perfect Scoop I almost always made Philadelphia-style, but he has really converted me to the joys of custard.

This time, though, I thought less rich was the way to go, given the richness of the cake. And I was so right. I made peppermint ice cream using (with slight modification) the recipe in Bruce Weinstein’s Ultimate Ice Cream Book. Lots of good recipes in this one, kids.

Mint Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style

3 cups heavy cream [I used 2 cups whole milk and 1 cup half-and-half]
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon peppermint extract [the first time I made this, it was hideously strong, so I cut this down to 1 teaspoon; it was still pretty strong]

Heat the cream (or milk, or half-and-half) in a heavy medium saucepan until small bubbles appear around the edge. Do not let the cream boil. Remove from the heat and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Cool to room temperature. Stir in the mint extract. You might want to start with ½ teaspoon and taste the result. Refrigerate till cold or overnight. Freeze in your ice cream maker!

Check out what all the other Daring Bakers did — there are sure to be all kinds of interesting ice cream variations. Enjoy!

4 Responses to “Daring Bakers: For the Love of Chocolate”

  1. Joanna Says:

    Oooo mint ice cream, I must try that sometime, it sounds divine. Congrats on completing your first DB challenge…. the cake looks beautiful. Isn’t if fun baking in groups?!?! Glad to hear your family enjoyed it… but hey, it’s chocolate… what’s not to like :P

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