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Cake and Ice Cream…Hold the flour

February 28, 2009 at 1:08 am | Posted in Cakes, Candy, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Frozen, Fruit | 113 Comments
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Yes, it’s that time of the month again – the Daring Bakers Challenge! Yesss, it’s another challenge where the difficulty factor wasn’t high, once again making it easy for me to participate without having to set knee in the kitchen, or for my helpers to have to set foot in the kitchen more than a few times. The main component of this month’s challenge contains only 3 ingredients, yep, just three ingredients – chocolate, butter and eggs. The second component (which I’m absolutely sure isn’t second to most people) is something I could cook, but it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Well, I guess the title kind of gave it away, but hey, I need some kind of intro.

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First off, I must add this paragraph so the DB-BOT will sense my participation and put me on it’s good baker list. It knows if I’ve been bad or good so I’ll be good for goodness…oh, wait, I’m confusing ‘it‘ with someone else. Here goes…

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. Thank you for a great challenge, Dharm and Wendy! (That’s me thanking them – NOT part of THE paragraph).

OK, done! Seriously, though, I think it’s a great idea, and it’s so helpful to Lisa and Ivonne in keeping up with who’s still in it, and who isn’t, not to mention those who have ‘cut class’ without a note, more than several times!

Truth be told, I’m not a fan of dark (bittersweet) or even semisweet chocolate, I can tolerate semisweet, but I don’t know what it is, other than being born without a dark chocolate gene. Regardless, I still bake with both quite a bit because people like it, they really like it! For this challenge, I decided to keep the dark chocolate to a minimum.

I baked two flourless (Valentino) cakes, the first being a white chocolate-dark chocolate layered dealypoo.  I split the master batter in two, 8 oz of each chocolate, and just dropped alternating spoonfuls of white chocolate and dark chocolate batter into the pan,, for Valentine’s Day, and last week as yet another thank you gift to some of my helpers who came for dinner, a milk and dark chocolate Valentino, not layered or split, just melted together with the butter.

White chocolate really isn’t suited for a flourless chocolate cake because well, it isn’t chocolate and the cocoa butter content is very high. However, not being one to give up before actually testing something (unless it resembles a grenade or has a skull and crossbones on it), I went ahead with it. Guess what? It worked. You just need to work that confection like a cheap slu..ok, I’ll keep it G-rated – like  cream to butter.

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Here’s the main caveat when you use white chocolate – the chocolate separates and curdles when you incorporate the egg yolks. Don’t be alarmed and give up, just keep mixing it and it’ll eventually come back together. The second caveat is that as it comes back together, it starts to firm up.

NO worries, because once you fold in the egg whites, it loosens up again. The last caveat is that the white chocolate batter is much looser than the batter using real chocolate. I originally wanted to do a zebra drop layering, but the dark chocolate batter didn’t spread nearly as much as the white chocolate batter, so I ended up (as I mentioned above) just alternating heaping tabelespoons of batter on top of one another in a rustic (aka sloppy) manner. I kind of left it up to the baking gods after that.

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The end result was most of the the dark chocolate batter sinking to the bottom while most of the white chocolate batter rose to the top. It was perfectly fine though, as it still resulted in a pretty presentation and most importantly, tasted great! Surprisingly  it set up really well. I was initially apprehensive due to a few daring DB’ers encountering runny interiors when cutting into their white chocolate Valentino’s after it seemed set. No idea why it worked for me, but here’s what I did in my attempt to tame that cantankerous confection for this preparation…

  • I used Callebaut white chocolate (actually, it was all I had on hand)
  • Mixed the heck out of the white chocolate-butter amalgamation after adding the egg yolks.
  • Lightened the batter with a little more than a third of the egg whites, then folded in the rest
  • Baked it for 30-32 minutes instead of the 25 stated in the recipe, and after letting it set at room temperature, refrigerated it overnight.

That’s it, and it was perfect – perfect enough to stick with a Valentine’s Day motif by cutting hearts out of the cake. I got a total of four 3-inch whimsical hearts from the 8-inch round cake, and the scraps were up for grabs!

Flourless White and Dark Chocolate Heart Cakes with Strawberry Lime Cream Cheese Ice Cream

The next part of this challenge was to make an ice cream to go along with the cake. We were given two great vanilla ice cream recipes by Wendy and Dharm, one a precooked custard, the other a no cook mixture, prior to freezing. However, we were given free reign to use any ice cream recipe or come up with one of our own. Naturally I chose a no cook recipe as simplicity is exponentially key for me now, and not sure my electric fondue pot would have held all the ingredients for the cooked version, lol!

The recipe I chose was one I’ve been using for years from my old standby site, Epicurious.com – a simple cream cheese ice cream that’s uber creamy and so incredibly smooth on the palate. I felt the light tang of the cream cheese would pair well with the extremely rich, dense cake. I put my own take on it by adding chopped strawberries, a touch of lime, and a small amount of VERY finely cracked pink peppercorn for a surprise bite of peppery heat.

I also decreased the sugar since I felt it didn’t need as much as the recipe listed. Unfortunately, my ice cream bowls had been placed in a part of the freezer near the door where they never freeze up enough since the door is opened quite a bit. I didn’t realize this until I heard that liquidy sound during the churning. I removed the bowl and took some photos of the liquid ice cream anyway, not thinking I would use any of them, but one of the photos came out kind of cool, so I did (see above, next to the frozen heart by itself).

After taking the photos, I poured the ice cream into a container and stuck it in the fridge so I could freeze it the next day, after the bowl was properly frozen in the RIGHT part of the freezer! Thankfully, everything turned out well, and the ice cream froze just fine the next day.

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I packed some of the ice cream into heart shaped molds for the final freeze (not that it mattered, since my frozen hearts started to melt into a puddle of goo the minute I started taking pictures), since I was going for Valentine kitsch. OK, kitsch is an understatement! Everything about my presentation was less than original, everything epitomizing Valentine’s Day – from the chocolate dipped strawberries to the heart shaped cakes and ice cream to the chocolate straws and strawberry-raspberry coulis.

Red, pink, chocolate, hearts GALORE!! It doesn’t get anymore Valentine than that! However, I was a little more creative with the dark chocolate-milk chocolate cake, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that one, since I plan on blogging about it next time!

Speaking of presentation, I topped each heart with chocolate ganache, then placed it on a grid of 4 chocolate straws. I placed the ice cream heart on it’s side and gave it a drizzle of strawberry-raspberry coulis (HA! A bleeding heart – I should have called the plate ‘MY HEART BLEEDS FOR YOOOU!), with a few extra dots outside the chocolate grid. A white and dark chocolate dipped strawberry was the final touch. Original or not, it reeked of love and was enjoyed immensely. In the end, that’s all that mattered.

Chocolate Valentino

For a real Valentino, bake it in a heart shaped pan or cut it out into a heart shape. You may use any shape pan that gives you an area of 50” – 6×8 or 7×7. An 8” spring form pan works with great results as do smaller pans or ramekins. An instant read thermometer highly recommended. Also, this cake will (obviously) taste exactly like the chocolate you use, so use a good quality chocolate.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes -

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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.

Strawberry Lime Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1  teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon very finely cracked pink peppercorns (optional)

Directions

1. Blend cream cheese, milk, lime  juice, sugar, and salt in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, then stir in cream, strawberries, lime zest and cracked peppercorns. Freeze cream cheese mixture in ice cream maker.

2. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours. Let ice cream soften 5 minutes before serving.

Be sure to check out the magnificent creations by my fellow Daring Bakers by clicking on the links to their blogs at the Daring Bakers Blogroll site!

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Lime is KEY here

June 9, 2008 at 7:23 am | Posted in Dessert, Fruit, Pastry, Pies/Tarts, Puddings | 11 Comments
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The first time I ever had Key Lime Pie, was when I was about 11, on school vacation in West Palm Beach, Fla with my family. I remember thinking ‘Wow, this is even better than Lemon Meringue Pie..I think I’m going to invent a Lime Meringue Pie with this cool key lime!”

I was not yet privy, or shall I say, innocently ignorant to the fact that thousands of chefs and home cooks had already nailed this one, along with ‘name ANY citrus fruit curd’ meringue pies.  SO, when we get back home, the first thing I want is key limes.

Me : “WHAT?? There’s no key limes at the local supermarket? What about the fruit stands, Mom?? I really want to ‘invent’ this pie, and NO, I’m not using regular limes!”

Mom: “Oh, you can’t really tell the difference.”

Actually, there IS a difference, and quite a discernible one at that. Not only does it look different (thinner rind, and ‘mostly’ more yellow green, unlike the deep green limes you see at your supermarket) but the key lime is more tart and has a slightly bitter, good bitter, undertone to it.

Although most associate it with the Florida Keys, Hemingway, and all that jazz..surprisingly, it’s native to Southeast Asia, and made it’s way to the tropical climates of North America via the Middle East.  Then it was on to Italy and Africa, finally ending up in the West Indies, where it made it’s way throughout the Caribbean, and is now also grown in places like Mexico and California.

Phew!

Having said all that, as the weather has gotten warmer, my craving for anything key lime has started to increase, so, on to my dessert..Individual Key Lime Tartlets with White Chocolate Mousse, raspberry, candied macadamia nuts, and a simple syrup doused with some of the oils accumulated from macadamia nuts being ground into a paste.

I started by using *Claudia Fleming’s recipe for graham cracker tart shell dough from her book The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern . I decided to make 4-inch tarts (incorporating ground macadamia nuts into the dough) which gave me 6 filled to the top tarts total. Since I had some leftover dough, I eventually used it for what else? Graham crackers! Not your ‘usual’ graham crackers, but round, lumpy ones with cocoa nibs and other toppings, like chile flakes and fleur de sel.

That’s another post, though.

These are the tart shells after being docked, and baked blind…ready to be filled and baked again. I used a basic key lime/condensed milk filling for these,which you’ll see in the full recipe at the end.

Once they’re baked and filled, they go back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes. They firm up rather quickly, but still need to be refrigerated for a while before plating and serving.

And here they are out of the oven. Now, there’s a ton of ways you can plate and serve these babies. Below, are two examples, (one with a whole lot of meringue)., with the recipe following.

Other ways include whipped cream, mint, lots of other kinds of fruits and/or chocolates (like a dark chocolate drizzle across the top of the tart) or toasted coconut.

Fleur de Sel makes a nice crunchy contrast, whether it be on the tart itself, the fruits, or the mousse, as does a pinch or three of dried chile flakes or cayenne, for a little extra kick. The sky is pretty much the limit here, as these tarts are your ‘blank canvas’, and a tasty one at that!

 

Key Lime Tartlets with White Chocolate Mousse, Raspberry, Candied Macadamia Nuts, and Macadamia Simple Syrup

*Graham Cracker Tart Shells

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup ground macadamia nuts
  • 6-12 tsps of raspberry preserves or jam (optional)

Directions
1. To prepare the graham cracker shells, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the buter and sugars until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the honey and beat until well combined.2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, macadamia nuts, salt, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Mix until the dough is well combined. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a disc. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

2. Preheat the oven to 325. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick, about a 13×16 rectangle. Using a 6-inch cookie cutter or glass, cut out 6 circles of dough and press them into lightly greased 4 to 4 1/2-inch tart pans, preferably with removeable bottoms (you can use smaller tart pans if you like, just cut out smaller circles of dough and adjust the baking time. Obviously, the smaller the tart pan, the more tarts you’ll get out of this recipe.  You can make TWO 9-inch tarts, just double the key lime filling and, again, adjust the baking time, trimming away excess dough. Prick the dough in each tart pan all over with a fork and chill on a baking sheet for 20 minutes or more.

3. Bake until golden brown, 15-18 mins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. When they’re cool, I like to lightly spread the bottom of each tart with about 1-2 tsps of raspberry preserves or seedless jam.

*Alternatively, you can use a basic graham cracker crust, using ground graham crackers. sugar and melted butter. To be honest, although Claudia’s tart dough is nice, I’m probably going to use the basic crust next time, as it’s a personal preference of mine when it comes to key lime tarts or tartlets.

Alternative Graham Cracker Crust, loosely adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 325F

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Evenly divide the mixture and press onto the bottom and up the sides of the 6 – 4 inch tart pans with removable bottoms. (Each tart will use about 1/4 cup of the graham cracker crumb mixture.) Place the tart shells in the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes Bake at 325 for 10-15 minutes, let cool, then fill and bake as directed.

Key Lime Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup bottled or fresh key lime juice
  • 1-2 tsps grated key lime or lime zest (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Directions
Raise the oven temperature to 350. Whisk together the milk, juice, eggs, zest and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the baked tart shells and bake for 15 minutes, or until barely set. Let come to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for about an hour.

White Chocolate Mousse (courtesy of my friend, Dennis, chef extraordinaire. I’ve been using this one on and off for years. It’s always my ‘standby’)

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces white chocolate
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 leaves gelatin soaked in cold water, then squeezed dry prior to adding to mousse mixture (or one half of a 1/4 oz package of granulated gelatin dissolved in 2 T of cold water)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 large egg whites
  • pinch sea salt

Directions
1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Meanwhile, also over a double boiler, combine the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until the sugar crystals are no longer visible and the mixture is hot but not curdled. Add the chocolate to the egg mixture and blend. Add gelatin.

2. Either in a mixer fitted with a wire whisk attachment or by hand, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, do the same with the egg whites and the salt. Set aside both.

3. Slowly fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Carefully fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate-whipped cream mixture. Chill at least 2 hours prior to serving.

Macadamia simple syrup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole macadamia nuts

Directions
In small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved and you have a slightly thick, but clear syrup.

In a food processor, grind the macadamia nuts until they reach a paste consistency (you’ll be able to see the oil in that paste). Gather up the paste and oil into some cheesecloth, and squeeze some of the oil into the simple syrup. Add some of the paste too, if desired. Save the paste in a sealed container in the fridge, for any recipe you’d like to add it too, or just mix it with some cocoa and cream, for a ‘macadamia’ nutella.

Candied Macadamia Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup whole macadamia nuts
  • A favorite spice or two, like cayenne pepper, or coriander (optional)

Directions

In a skillet or pan, melt down the sugar and water and let it cook until it’s golden brown, or reaches the hard ball to hard crack stage. Quickly add the nuts, coating them in the caramel, then remove to a parchment lined sheet pan, making sure you separate them before they stick together. Add spices (if using) while the caramel is still hot, and roll the nuts around in them using a silicone spatula or spoon. Chop coarsely when cool.

Assemble

Place the tart in the center of your serving plate. Pipe or scoop a quenelle of the white chocolate mousse onto one side of the tart. Garnish with a slice or two of lime, some raspberries, the candied nuts, and a light drizzle of the macadamia syrup all over everything, so it glistens. Additional garnishes could include white and dark chocolate dipped raspberries or strawberries. Be creative! :)


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