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.
What’s that? Did it say that I was co-hosting! Yes, Indeed! Cant you tell how excited I am!!! Now please sit back and watch the opening credits:
Location: A house somewhere in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia sometime in September 2008.
Camera focuses on a bedroom door. Pan back to reveal the door opening. An unshaven (but terribly good looking!) man walks out, rubbing his eyes. He makes his way to the bookshelf and moves a cookbook. A panel opens up revealing a small DVD player. Camera focuses on the screen and then shows the reflection of the (extremely good looking) man’s face as a voice over says….
Good morning, Mr. Navaratnam. My name is Wendy. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves co-hosting the February Daring Bakers challenge with me. You and I need to select a recipe, any recipe, but it should include Chocolate and Ice-Cream. That’s what I think anyway. You have forty-eight hours to help me choose and decide on a recipe. Once we have decided on the recipes, you will need to test it out and then compare notes with me. We will then have to inform Director Ivonne and Commissioner Lis, the founders of the DBs on our choice of recipe. As always, should you mess up the recipe, be caught or be killed, we will all disavow any knowledge of your actions – or even your existence.
And Mr. Navaratnam, the next time you come out of your room, please be good enough to wear a shirt. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.
Camera pans back. Man covers his face as the DVD screen blows up.
And that in a nutshell is how I came to co-host this February Challenge of the Daring Bakers – with a little bit of literary and artistic licence of course!
In all seriousness, it was way back in September 2008 that I got an email from Wendy asking me if I would like to co-host the February Daring Baker’s Challenge with her. I was really thrilled that Wendy had asked me and without any hesitation, I said yes! Can you believe that we actually started planning all this way back in September?
Both of us knew we wanted to do something with chocolate. After tossing up various ideas, we both decided on a Flourless Chocolate Cake paired with Ice Cream. Wendy liked the idea of using a recipe from someone in this part of the world and that’s when we decided we would use the recipe from Chef Wan. For all Malaysian’s and those who are fortunate enough to get to watch the Asian Food Channel, I am sure you have heard of Chef Wan from Malaysia who claims to be “Asia’s most flamboyant food ambassador”. For those of you that have never heard of him, trust me when I say he is an extremely entertaining person to watch and his recipes are firm favourites in this part of the world and especially in my household!
February’s challenge is a Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Chef Wan’s Recipe from his book Sweet Treats.
The thing that I really liked about this recipe was that it was very straightforward but gave lots of room for interpretation. We decided that we would give the Daring Baker’s lots of room for variation by not limiting them to the chocolate they would use. We also decided to let them pair it with any kind of ice-cream or whipped cream or any topping they so desired actually! We provided two ice cream recipes too.
So this is my take on this months Challenge.
I felt the cake wasn’t really all that difficult to do. I think the trick was in getting the egg whites to beat up nice and stiff and then to not let them collapse too much while folding into the chocolate mixture.
I made the cake in a Heart Shaped pan just as a Valentino is supposed to be. I also made a few smaller cakes in ramekins just to keep the Lovely Wife and the Kids happy. They were so eager to have a taste of the cake before it was served later that night for a few friends. I also did that so that I could test how baking individual cakes would turn out. You see, hosting a challenge means you need to test these things out!
Both the heart cake and the mini cakes turned out superb! The texture of the cake was very dense and rather fudgy.
Next of course came the ice cream. I DO have an Ice Cream maker but I decided NOT to use the ice cream maker for two reasons. First, I wanted to simulate how people without ice cream machines would handle this and secondly, my ice cream maker requires overnight freezing prior to use and of course I didn’t do that!!
I think the hardest part in making a custard based ice cream is in getting the custard just right.
After making the custard, I had to let it cool. I decided to take some fancy pictures using the recipe book as a prop!
The next hardest thing is making ice cream without a machine. For this, I had to whip cream till it was nice and thick and then fold it into the custard mixture.
Doesn't that look all creamy and delicious?
Then it was time to pour the cream into containers and freeze them.
I took the freezing ice cream out of the freezer a number of times and whipped it lightly. This is important and also can be a little tricky as if you don’t beat the mixture often enough, it will form lots of ice crystals and then the ice cream will be really hard and icy.
As I mentioned earlier, the kids couldn't wait to eat the cake and so I served one of the ramekins to them - complete with ice cream and a fresh cherry!
You can see that my official tasters really enjoyed this cake with ice cream!
Later that night, I served the cake at a dinner party and the guests all loved it. The vanilla ice cream went really well with the dark chocolate and the flavours were really delightful. One of our friends said it was the best chocolate cake she had ever eaten! This recipe is definitely one to be made many, many times. The only trouble is that with the amount of chocolate in it, this will be an expensive cake to make. I would also advice anyone who makes this to use only the Best Quality Chocolate - and use eating chocolate and not baking chocolate!
Although I tested the cake and ice cream recipes, Wendy went a step further and tested the cake 4 times and also provided a more detailed version of the recipe based on her experience. It’s a good thing she did because that alleviated a lot of the questions that would definitely have arisen had we only provided the recipe as is. Here, I provide for you the original unedited recipe exactly as it is in Chef Wan’s Sweet Treats. I also provide the Ice Cream recipe just as it is in the book - just so you can see how much more of a challenge it could have been!!
I really hope all of you Daring Bakers enjoyed this challenge. I must say it was a load of fun choosing and testing this recipe as Co-Host. It was also a lot of fun answering questions on the Forum and I'm sorry if I wasn't able to answer questions to any ones satisfaction. Finally, a big hug and another word of thanks to Wendy for asking me to co-host with her on this challenge!!
Here are the unabridged, unadulterated recipes.
Chocolate Valentino by Chef Wan from his book, Sweet Treats
453 grams of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
140 grams butter
5 eggs separated
Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Cool
Grease a 22cm spring form pan. Beat egg yolks and stir into cooled chocolate
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold on quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites
Pour batter into a pan and bake for 25 minutes at 190C/375F or till done. Cool.
Chefs note: The Valentino is a heart-shaped version of this cake. Bake a Valentino in a heart-shaped pan. This is a very dense chocolate cake.
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis
1 Vanilla Pod
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream
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.
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
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)