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.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/ flavours of our choice.
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.
We were also required to make one ice-cream to serve with the cake. 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 egg free 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 egg free 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.
For the Fresh Mint Ice-cream :
For the Spiced Carrot Ice-cream :
- For the Fresh Mint Ice-cream, 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.
- For the Spiced Carrot Ice-cream, adjust the amount of sugar 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.
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.