February 28, 2009

Chocolate Valentino- A Flourless Chocolate Cake: Daring Bakers Challenge February 2009


With this month, I complete one year of Daring Baker challenges. I joined the Daring Bakers in January of 2008 but because I couldn't do two of the challenges in between, this happens to be my twelfth challenge.

"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."
When I read these lines, at the beginning of this month, it seemed fitting that I would be celebrating this milestone using one of my favourites ingredients, Chocolate!




Given that Valentine's Day is celebrated in February, I was expecting to see something chocolate, but what was really surprising was that that this flourless cake required just three (yes, I said only three) ingredients!
Now don't ever assume that just because a recipe is minimalist means that it's going to be a breeze. Experience has taught me to look at such recipes with a lot of respect and my rather pathetic French Bread was a perfect example. However, I am happy to report that this challenge caused me no real problems.

This is one cake that couldn't be easier to make, with just one pre-condition. Make this cake only if you love chocolate (or have someone who loves chocolate to serve it to) because this cake is just that, almost pure chocolate!!
Our hosts also wanted us to serve this cake with home-made ice-cream. We had to make the cake with the option of making our ice-cream with the given recipes or using any other recipe and in a flavour/ falvours of our choice.


My Flourless Chocolate Cake:


While we don't celebrate Valentine's Day in particular (as my husband says "why restrict to one day when we have the whole year?"), we are always ready to celebrate especially if it involves good food and then chocolate at that.
Never having made a flourless cake before, I decided not to experiment but follow the given recipe, eggs and all. I just halved the recipe and made the cake in my 6" round cake tin.

Everything worked out fine. I baked the cake for 25 minutes and the cake looked dry on top. I don't have an instant thermometer so I just used a knife to check if it was done. The knife came out wet, so I baked it for another 7 minutes and it was done.

The cake rose quite well and it looked pretty good when it came out of the oven. I think the discovery that it was no longer in a nice warm oven must have come as a shock to my cake. It just decided to sit down!
I know the cake was meant to sink a bit, but I never thought I would have a crater in the middle of my cake. So I tried to camouflage that a bit by dressing it up and filled the crater with some white, milk and dark chocolate curls.


The Ice-creams:


Yes, we were required to make one ice-cream but ice-cream is another thing we like and I make very often. It also helps that we live in a part of India where it is ice-cream weather all the 12 months of the year.




I made eggless ice-creams in two delicious flavours – fresh mint and spiced carrot.  This is the season for juicy and sweet winter carrots it seemed right to try turning them into ice-cream. I do not have an ice-cream maker and have always made them by hand. The recipes for both flavours are below.
I have developed this standard eggless recipe for my ice-creams and I adapt that to whatever flavour I am making at any given time. Most of the time, I leave out the cream but use fresh fruit to flavour my ice-cream (or gelato since ther's no cream in it) as this makes for a much healthier dessert.


Fresh Mint Ice-cream:

Ingredients:

500ml milk (I used 3% fat)

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/4 cup milk powder (I used skimmed)

100ml cream (25% fat)

1 tsp lemon juice


Method:


Put the sugar, milk powder and milk in a heavy and thick-bottomed pan and mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and allow to it to cool a bit. Roughly tear the mint leaves and drop them into the milk. Stir well and keep this aside for about an hour so the mint flavour infuses into the milk.

Now strain the milk into a plastic or metal container (in which you will freeze the ice-cream) and discard the mint leaves. In another pan, put the cream and cornstarch and mix well. Place on the stove and heat the cream, stirring constantly until the cornstarch in it causes the cream to thicken a bit. Take this off the heat.

Add this to the mint flavoured milk and beat well with a whisk or electric mixer. Add the lemon juice and mix again. Allow to cool to room temperature and freeze, taking the ice-cream out every 45 minutes or so and mixing well to break up the ice crystals. Do this about 3 to 4 times.


Spiced Carrot Ice-cream:

Ingredients:

500ml milk (I used 3% fat)

1/2 cup sugar*

1 cup grated carrots, tightly packed

100ml cream (25% fat)

cardamom seeds from 4 pods

1" piece cinnamon, broken

4 leaves of star anise

4 cloves


Method:


*Adjust this amount according to the sweetness of your carrots.

Keep aside 1 cup of milk.
Put the sugar, milk powder and remaining milk in a heavy and thick-bottomed pan and mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and cloves to the milk and take the pan off the heat. Stir the milk and keep aside for about 2 hours so the spices infuse into it.
Now strain the milk into a plastic or metal container (in which you will freeze the ice-cream) and discard the spices.

In the meanwhile, cook the grated carrots in the reserved 1 cup of milk till really soft. Take off the heat and allow it to cool and then blend this mixture into a smooth puree. Keep aside.

In another pan, put the cream and cornstarch and mix well. Place on the stove and heat the cream, stirring constantly until the cornstarch in it causes the cream to thicken a bit. Take this off the heat.

Add the pureed carrots and the thickened cream to the spice infused milk and beat well with a whisk, electric mixer or in a blender. Freeze the ice-cream, taking it out every 45 minutes or so and mixing well to break up the ice crystals. Do this about 3 to 4 times.


I served the mint ice-cream in chocolate cups. To make chocolate cups melt the equal quantities of semi-sweet and milk chocolate with a little butter. Coat the inside of a few cupcake cases with an even layer of melted chocolate, using a paint brush. Place them in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Once the chocolate has hardened, take them out and paint one more layer of melted chocolate on the inside of each cup. This ensures that your chocolate cups don't break. Place them in freezer for another 10 minutes till the chocolate hardens. Now carefully peel off the cupcake cases. Store the chocolate cups in an airtight container in the refrigerator till needed.

The idea for the spiced carrot ice-cream chocolate sandwiches came from David Lebovitz's detailed post on making Simple, Little Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches.

I used the left over melted chocolate from making the above chocolate cups. Place a plastic transparency sheet or a greased sheet of aluminium foil (or parchment paper) on a baking sheet.
Drop about 1/4 tsp melted chocolate on the sheet or greased foil and spread it into a thin even circle, using the back of the spoon. Repeat, for as many chocolate discs as you require. Refrigerate so the chocolate hardens. Peel off the discs carefully (they have a tendency to break) and store in an airtight container in the fridge till needed.

To assemble the sandwich, make small scoops of ice-cream and place them on a chilled plate and freeze. Take them out to soften slightly and sandwich each small scoop between two chocolate discs. Freeze the sandwiches till ready to serve.
I also made candied carrot curls to garnish my spiced carrot ice-cream sandwiches.
Both ice-cream recipes will make enough to comfortably serve 4 to 6, depending on the serving size.


Verdict:

My flourless cake sank more than I expected it to, but other than the fact that it perhaps didn't look stunning (or very pretty) we weren't too worried. The cake was quite good. After all, appearance isn't everything, right?

The cake was dense, as expected, and much like a very fudgy brownie. It tasted better and more deeply "chocolatey" the next day. I had made my cake using half semi-sweet chocolate and half milk chocolate yet the cake wasn't anywhere near being very sweet. So this makes for a very adult dessert and definitely needs the ice-cream to complete it. And a small serving of this flourless chocolate cake really does go a long way.

On the other hand, if there are going to be children eating this cake, I suggest that making it with milk chocolate alone would be a good idea.
Our daughter took one bite of the cake and then never came anywhere near it. She enjoys chocolate, but found this cake too bitter for her taste.
Having said this, I'm not sure I was happy with the texture of this cake. Maybe it's that I'm used to cakes with flour and this needs getting used to.
As for the ice-creams, I had never made either flavour before, though I enjoy mint ice-cream. The spiced carrot ice-cream was an experiment which, I'm happy to say, turned out really well.

So this month's challenge ended on a happy note for me and left us with the satisfied feeling that only chocolate and some ice-cream can bring. Now please go over and see what my fellow DBs can create with some butter, eggs and a whole lot of chocolate!



70 comments:

Vcuisine said...

Tempting Aparna the cake and ice cream. Nice one. Viji

Lisa Michelle said...

Pretty Valentino, regardless of the shrinking (mine shrunk too). You covered it up well, and lovve the two ice creams, especially the carrot!

jayasree said...

Congrats on completing 12 challenges. You are indeed a daring baker.

Cake looks nice with those decorations in the center. And the winner is the ice cream.. Haven't tasted mint flavored ice creams. Thanks for both the recipes which will be tried in my kitchen shortly.

Tara said...

Oh man, carrot ice cream? Im def going to try that when its not snowing... :)

Great job!

Chez US said...

Happy 1 year anniversary with this group - I love it! Your cake looks fantastic! Great job!

Cham said...

Congrats for completing a year of challenge. The cake is decadent.

glamah16 said...

We have carrot cake, so why not carrot ice cream! Very creative. Happy anniversary!

Foodie Froggy said...

You have been very creative with the ice creams ! Beautiful cake, too.

chef_d said...

Spiced carrot ice cream sounds so interesting...very pretty cake by the way!

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Amazing ice cream flavours Aparna! And I love your chocolate curls. I can never get my chocolate to curl properly like yours!

Madhumathi said...

The chocolate curls are looking pretty..
Carrot ice cream is very creative :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Nice decorations and presentation! You did a wonderful job!

Cheers,

Rosa

Marija said...

Actually, I love the fact that this cakes sinks :)

Love your decoration!

Audax Artifex said...

Happy 1st year to you!!! The spicy carrot ice-cream sounds so weird but I bet it was good. (Who would think that carrot cake tastes good?) Just love the pictures you really did a good job.

jayasri said...

You are really a daring baker, the cake looks so delicious my daughter a chocolic would love this,my daughter sitting next to me is saying OOOOaaaaa & she now wants me to make it!!!,can u come home please!!!, i am still a budding baker...

Curry Leaf said...

CONGRATS on completing 12 challenges -now you are a true Daring baker.I also have the same policy on VDay.
Also appearance is not everything.Love the cake Aparna,I have seen vegan recipes for the same,but looking at the amount of tofu,I was not/am still not sure that it will work.So you did better not experimenting.
Thanks for the standard ice cream recipes.Very helpful and the spiced carrot is a must try.

Curry Leaf said...

Hope you got my orange entry

Yasmeen said...

Fabulous! love the flavors of the Ice cream,I couldn't enjoy the ice-cream much coz it still so cold outside.

Jude said...

I'm sure it's still delicious even if there was a crater in the middle. The chocolate shavings more than make up for it :)

Passionate About Baking said...

That certainly looks delicious Aparna & I LOVE your choice of ice-creams. They sound exotic & novel. Yes hearts are meant to sink i guess, as mine did too..but you need a little more love on top & WOW!! You got it!!

MeetaK said...

love the sound of the ice creams. congrats on complete 12 DB challenges it'S great to have you on board. well done on this one!

Jeanine said...

You did a fantastic job on your cake & ice cream! I had trouble with mine sinking in the middle too, but that didn't affect the taste at all. :)

Dharm said...

Congrats on 12 challenges and I'm glad you joined us on this one!!

Little Miss Cupcake said...

Happy one year anniversary with the DBs. Your cake looks simply awesome!

Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar said...

I love the sound of the spiced carrot ice cream. The ingredients remind me )happily) of the carrot halva I made years ago.

And congratulations on 12 challenges!

plutosangel said...

Nice job :D

Maya said...

Lovely cake and ice-cream Aparna, and congratulations on completing a year of DB challenges.
Abt the flax seeds, no, the pudi does not turn oily at all, its even more drier than the Dry Coconut one. There is a lot of dalia powder in it also, so its very dry. Do try.

Arundathi said...

ohmygoodness! you've done a great job!

pixie said...

great job! I love your ice cream flavors! very creative!

Chitra said...

congrats on completing 1st year..lip smacking icecreams and cake:)

Chitra said...

congrats on completing 1st year..lip smacking icecreams and cake:)

Baking Soda said...

I think you express my worries about this cake wonderfully, i do understand what you say!
Love your choice of ice creams (mint! yeah!)

Lauren said...

Mmm, your cake looks amazing!! I love the ice creams you made as well =D!!

Simran said...

12 DB challenges - wow! Congratulations!

I stay away from making icecreams because (i) I don't like the ones with egg and (ii) I don't have an icecream maker. But you are inspiring me. Carrot icecream is very unusual and sounds tempting. And mint icecream has to be pure genius - I've tried mint sorbet, and I love mint flavor in B&R

Meryl said...

So pretty! Your chocolate curlies look very nice!

sra said...

Congrats on the milestone. I've made flourless cakes a few times, maybe thrice. I've liked the chocolate ones.

Ashwini said...

Lovely cake and Ice cream..Looks very tempting..Congrats on completing one year as DB..

Namratha said...

That surely is one good looking cake Aparna, you really did spruce it up well. Tell me about the sunken cake, I camouflaged it with powered sugar...hehe! Well done!

Cakelaw said...

Great work Aparna - you camaflauged the cavity well, and mint icecream with chcolate - mmmmmm ...

Lakshmi Venkatesh said...

The cake looks very nice with the beautiful chocolate curls.

Amy said...

What creative ice creams! This looks beautiful.

adventureswiththewoods said...

Love the chocolate curls you put atop your cake! Your carrot ice cream sounds unusual and delicious! This is my first visit to your blog, and I really like it.

Medhaa said...

the cake looks beautiful, lovely job. carrot ice cream is something i have yet to try

Jenny said...

Spiced carrot? You had me at cardamom....

A_and_N said...

You love carrots, don't you? :)

I love DB Challenges. I can drool and drool. LOL :) Good looking cake, Aparna!

Shirley said...

I love the idea of a spiced carrot ice cream. I'd have never thought of it!

Ivy said...

Wow, never heard of carrot ice cream before but the carrot is sweet so why not. Great looking pictures.

shellyfish said...

Aparna that is just stunning! Beautiful job! I love the idea of carrot ice cream, it sounds exotic! Happy 12th challenge!

Rebecca said...

Your ice creams look and sound interesting and delicious. Can I have a scoop of each?

ice tea: sugar high said...

Wow, carrot ice cream.. how interesting. Your cake looked fabulous! Great photos too =). I sometimes missed living in a place with "ice cream" weather all year long. Melbourne's weather is very moody most of the time. It's suppose to be summer now, but I turned on the heater last night coz it's pretty cold night. Well done on the challenge!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Goodness I love how you expresses it: was no longer in a nice warm oven must have come as a shock to my cake. It just decided to sit down!
Your decorations in the crater are fabulous!

littlelisa said...

Yum, looks great! If you want to try a lighter flourless cake, there are some good recipes out there. I've made a lighter one that I like much better, especially for its texture.

I love your presentation, and your ice creams sound delicious! Pretty interesting seeing all the creative flavours that people make.

Half Baked said...

Beautiful cake! I love the chocolate shavings! Can't wait to try your spiced carrot ice cream. It sounds lovely!

sleepingbearinthekitchen said...

Your cake may have decided to "sit down" but it appears to be lounging quite regally!!! Your recovery operation resulted in a stunning look.
Spiced Carrot ice cream...do you think a scoop would survive the shipping to the States??? Sounds fantastic!!!

BC said...

Happy Anniversary!

Spiced carrot sounds so interesting - I would have never ever thought of it. The carrots must be very sweet, here the winter carrots tend to be bitter.

I love seeing the challenges all over the world - you bring so much to this group!

Hugs,
Mary

♥Rosie♥ said...

Hi Aparna, one gorgeous cake and scrummy mint ice cream - YUM!!

Rosie x

Andreas said...

I like the look of your camouflaged cake. And spiced carrot ice cream sounds very daring indeed. Here's to twelfe completed Challenges.

ThePurpleFoodie said...

Aparna, the chocolate curls look gorgeous! If you didn't mention it we'd never now it sank to such a great extent. You're right about kinds not liking it - my little sis only ate 2 spoonfuls of it. But I'm not complaining, I was happy to have more for myself! :D

L*Joy said...

The carrot spiced ice cream definitely grabbed my attention. I think you have inspired another ice cream attempt for me.

Sugared Ellipses... said...

Hey, at least your cake only cratered. Mine turned into a dying star, collapsing in on itself. BEAUTIFUL job by the way. I'm going to have to give those chocolate curls a try. I'd probably need a pound of curls to fill up my "crater" if you can call it that. It's more like the never-ending abyss.

Uj said...

I have tasted this cake. My friend made this for us and they taste great with ice cream :D I missed FIC Orange this time. I had so many things in mind but everything got postponed. Anyways.. May be next time :(

breadchick said...

Congrats on one year of DB challenges and boy did you hit it out of the park on this one. I love the chocolate shavings on the cake and the spiced carrot ice cream sounds excellent.

zorra said...

I just read some tips from a baker. He was writing if the eggwhite is too stiff, the cake will sank. Anyway your cake looks great and the ice cream sound awesome!

Jo said...

Great job on your challenge and love the presentation.

Vera said...

The cake looks great! And I love the ice cream you made!

Eat4Fun said...

Very tasty looking results. Chocolate and mint are a very popular combo and sounds delicious. The spiced carrot ice cream is a new one for me. It does sound nice.

Aparna said...

Thank you all so much, for dropping by to look at my cake and ice-cream and your kind words.

arundati said...

congratulations on finishing one whole year of daring baking aparna. i had 2 hits out of five, so this is really awesome. the cake looks fab. what got me is the carrot icecream. and the way you presented it in the chocolate cups. awesome!!

Y said...

Ice-cream weather, 12 months of the year.. heh yes indeed! I have to say though, cold weather here in Sydney has never stopped me from enjoying ice cream :D Love the sound of that spiced carrot ice-cream - how unusual! An interesting match to your fabulous cake.

Dave Jones said...

hi,
the cake looks delicious. the interesting part is carrot ice-cream very originative.. I am intrigued.