I almost didn’t get this month’s Daring Bakers challenge done. I just about managed to finish doing the assembling and decorating yesterday, which is not the way I like to do my challenges!
The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alasa or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.
Normally, I try to get my DB challenges done by the middle of the month, but this time I planned to do it for my husband’s birthday on the 24th of this month. As it turned out, the 23rd and the 24th were also traditional religious/ festive events in our community, which I forgot to factor into my DB challenge plans. To this add out of town visitors, nagging toothache due a fractured filling, and a sudden unexplained eye allergy which meant a badly swollen left eye leaving me looking like a rather badly finished alien face!
And on the DB front, I had 2 days to do the challenge, make it look presentable, shoot pictures and write up a post, if I wanted to meet the deadline of 27th August. Meet the deadline, I did, but in my own fashion. I kept to the spirit of the challenge and browned my own butter, made the pound cake but used store bought ice-cream.
Elissa wanted us to make one or two of the alternatives, the Baked Alaska or/ and Petit Fours. You can find the recipe and other details of the challenge on her blog. The thought of half-cooked meringue required for the Baked Alaska wasn’t particularly attractive, bringing back memories of the Lemon Meringue Pie which was my maiden DB challenge (just a personal thing). I wasn’t keen on the ice-cream petit fours either as I prefer them the traditional way, so I decided to make a cross between the two.
I’m not sure what to call my creation, as it isn’t a Baked Alaska and it definitely not petite, though it is small. I think mini ice-cream cake would probably be more apt, but then as Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?”
I have found it sensible and practical to subscribe to the thought that all good things, especially desserts, come in small packages. So I halved the pound cake recipe and used only 1 egg (instead of 2). I baked the cake in a 9” cake tin as a thin layer since I wanted to cut out circles for the base of my dessert. I then cut out small 2 1/2” circles of pound cake and topped it with eggless fresh anjir/ fig ice-cream (store bought Amul ice-cream, whose ice-creams are all eggless and one of the best I’ve eaten). I did make my ice-cream for the previous challenge, and didn’t have the time this month.
I had previously set the ice-cream in my small cupcake moulds to shape them. So far everything was more or less like I wanted it to be. I did have a bit of trouble unmoulding the ice-cream quickly before it melted into a puddle, but I managed without things becoming disastrous.
I used a half recipe of the ganache and wanted to pour it over my ice-cream and cake mounds instead of the meringue but somewhat like the petit fours. For some unfathomable reason (I’m sure there’s some chemistry at work here that’s beyond me for now) the ganache would not stay put over the ice-cream!
The ganache was cool enough, so that wasn’t the problem. I would spoon it over the ice-cream and it would just slide off bringing a little of the ice-cream with it and pool at the bottom. Frustrating was not word enough to describe what I was feeling!! I had about half a day to complete the challenge and serve my husband what was supposed to have been a birthday dessert!
After some thought, I stuck my ice-cream and cake in the freezer and decided to let the ganache thicken a bit. Then, using a palette knife, I covered the mini ice-cream cakes with ganache. This worked.
All that was left was to decorate my little cakes. I used melted milk chocolate and piped some designs. The first time, the piped melted chocolate came out of the bag in messy squirts and squiggles leaving behind a mess. I spent quite some time scraping off the stuff, and then covering up the patches with more ganache. So now you’re privy to the secret behind my not so perfectly finished mini cakes.
I’m really happy that browned butter, which we better know as “ghee” in India, is getting due recognition. Actually, ghee is clarified butter (browned butter minus the solids). In ghee, the solids from browned butter are removed to increase its shelf life.
In India, if a sweet dish requires some amount of fat, it has to be ghee. Ghee is also used in smaller amounts in many savoury preparations. The browned butter did lend its characteristic nutty and rich flavour to the pound cake, which was unusual but interesting. I didn’t find any noticeable difference from reducing the egg by one in my halved pound cake recipe.
We quite liked this cake though our daughter thought there was something “odd” about it, till I let on about the browned butter. Throw browned butter into a combination of cake, ice-cream and chocolate ganache, and there’s very little about it to not like. My husband thought it was “quite nice”.
I found that my version freezes pretty well, so it’s a good dessert to make ahead. Just take it out of the freezer and keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. This softens the ice-cream (and cake) while the ganache prevents the ice-cream from melting out, which is perfect as far as textures in this dessert go.
If you have been wondering what I did with the scraps after cutting out my circles (I got seven 2 1/2″ circles) from the pound cake, I crumbled some and made a similar dessert in a glass. I topped the cake crumbs with sliced bananas, some ice-cream and then melted milk chocolate and some cashewnuts.