Saturday, February 28, 2009

Flourless Chocolate Cake

For the month of February, the Daring Bakers Challenge was to make a Flourless Chocolate Cake.
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.

This recipe wasn't hard, but did need to be followed closely to make sure it turned out just right. I made three attempts at the cake. Two turned out great, one did not.

Here are the recipes. My comments and details will follow (along with pictures).

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

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – 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.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted - cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice 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 (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
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)

Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes

2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

OK, so here's what I did.

My first attempt was with cinnamon baking chips instead of chocolate. That one was very good! Sorry, no pictures of that. I didn't have any homemade ice cream or whipped topping, but I did have some Bryer's Coffee Ice Cream. That was good with the Cinnamon cake. Oddly, the cinnamon chips made it taste a lot like pumpkin pie.

My second attempt was with 1/2 white chocolate baking chips and 1/2 peanut butter baking chips. While it smelled wonderful baking, by the time the inside was cooked, the outside was burned.

My final attempt was with semi-sweet chips. This was very good, although a bit bitter. I served this one with homemade whipped cream. I wanted to do ice cream, but just didn't have the time this month with work issues and whatnot. I have been using these little serving bowl things I got at GFS for the kids a lot lately. They love them. I swear they will eat almost anything if I serve it up fun. Of course they would have eaten this no matter what I served it on.

The bottom line on this is that I will make it again and again. It became a fast favorite with my kids. I would like to experiment with other flavors. I think milk chocolate would be better because the semi-sweet was a bit bitter without topping. However, as long as I have a sweet topping, it is perfect. Just now I thought of putting caramel on it. Now that would be great.

I had really wanted to make the ice cream to serve with the second attempt. But with work issues, kid issues, and attempt number two not turning out I just plain ran out of time. I do plan to make ice cream soon though. I'm going to try a vanilla base with toasted coconut, peanut butter chips and chocolate swirls. Or something like that. I'll be sure to post when I make it and let you know how it turns out.

Thank you again t0 our hosts this month. This was a great recipe to make and it was really fun to experiment with different flavors. I can't wait to make it again.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

So How's The Kitchen?

Well, at the moment it's a mess. That's why there are no pictures. LOL But at least it's a more organized mess. I still have a lot that needs to be done. With small children at home, I just didn't have enough hours in the day to do everything. I'm ok with that.

I did make a lot of progress. So if a time comes when I don't have much that needs to be done in the area for a certain month, I figure I can jump back into the kitchen and tweak and finish areas I'd like to do more with.

For now, it's all about maintaining and moving on to the bedroom. Really, once I get the laundry caught up that room won't be so bad. :o)

Ever heard of Holopchi?

This month was hosted by Kat from A Good Appetite with Giz & Psychgrad from Equal Opportunity Kitchen. For this month's recipe they chose a Ukrainian dish called Holopchi.

I hadn't heard of holopchi until I joined Recipes To Rival this month. The recipe calls for beet leaves. Since I'm the only one I knew for sure would eat beets in my house, I opted to use swiss chard. It's got a great flavor and is so pretty. It worked out great.
After making the dough, you wrap the leaves around smalls dough balls. Since swiss chard leaves are so much bigger than beet leaves, I had to cut them down. First I removed the middle rib out. This left me with two halves. I then cut those in 2-4 pieces depending on how big they were.
After that I put them in my roasting pan and baked them for about 1 hour. I put just a little of the sauce over top for the last 15 minutes to cook in a little extra flavor.
I should also mention that I only made a quarter batch of dough. A full batch would have made way too much for one family. The quarter batch still gave us plenty of leftovers. I did make the full sauce recipe though. We like sauce around here. Especially when it's has all that cream and butter in it.
The bottom line is: Yes, I would make these again. Meg, Braden and I loved them. Jade didn't like them, but she doesn't like anything new. Rob didn't even try them. I don't think he would have liked them anyhow.

Here's the recipe.

Beet Leaf Holopchi
from The Keld Community Ladies Club in Ashville, Manitoba. The last publishing of this cookbook was 1976 and I doubt it's even in circulation anymore.

This is not your usual cabbage roll - can you imagine a bread dough wrapped in beet leaves and baked in a creamy, garlic, onion and dill sauce.

Bread Dough:

2 pkgs. yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 cups scalded milk
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup melted butter
8 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
6 1/2 cups flour
a couple bunches of beet leaves

Note: When I first saw this recipe I thought it was wrong - how many recipes need THAT much flour. I used the recipe and indeed had to add more to get the right consistency. AND I ran out of dough before I ran out of beet leaves.


1. Dissolve 1 ts. sugar in 1/2 cup tepid water, sprinkle with yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.

2. To the milk-water liquid add the melted butter, dissolved yeast and 8 cups of flour. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (about 1 hour)

3. Add salt, beaten eggs, sugar and remaining flour.

4. Knead well until dough is smooth and top with melted butter or oil.

5. Place in a warm place and let rise until double in bulk. It will take about 2 hours. Punch down . When dough has risen to double in bulk, place a piece of dough, the size of a walnut on a beet leaf and roll up (leaving sides open)

6. Place holopchi loosely in a pot to allow for dough to rise to double in bulk again.

7. Arrange in layers, dotting each layer with butter.

8. Cover tightly, bake in a moderate oven of 350 F for 3/4 to 1 hour. Serve with dill sauce or cream and onion sauce. (I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don't have to. You can add it later - just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.)
(I baked mine longer - about 1 1/2 hours and was happy with the result)


1/2 cup butter
2 cups whipping cream
8 small onions (I used chives)
2 handfuls of chopped fresh dill (this makes the whole dish)
2-4 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onions (chives) garlic, dill and cream.
Let it come to a boil and then turn down the heat.
I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don't have to. You can add it later - just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.

This is not a 5 minute recipe. When you commit to making it - it's an adventure - most definitely a worthwhile one. This recipe filled an open roaster and a turkey sized roaster.
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