This month's Daring Bakers challenge was to make a flourless chocolate cake, paired with a homemade ice cream. I made a rich cake using Valrhona dark chocolate, paired it with two different ice creams - coffee, and chile spice, and topped it all with a semisweet chocolate and brandy sauce. Now that Daring Bakers is checked by a bot, we need to have an obligatory sentence in our post. I followed the suggested recipe for the cake, but the ice creams were not based on the shared recipes. Anyways, "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."
If you decide to make this cake, you can use whatever sort of chocolate you'd like (except white chocolate; the ratios in that chocolate will throw off the recipe), just make sure it's a chocolate you love. Because the cake is only eggs, butter, and the chocolate, the cake will end up tasting just like the chocolate you put into it. As with most recipes, the better quality ingredients you get, the better this cake will taste.
Chocolate Valentino Cake:
16 oz. premium-quality dark chocolate (like Valrhona), roughly chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 large eggs, separated
Butter an 8"x8" pan, and line with parchment paper (the butter helps the paper hold shape). Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a double boiler, combine the chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring continuously until fully melted. Don't overheat it, or the butter and chocolate will separate. Once melted, remove from heat and allow to cool down. Whip the egg whites into stiff peaks, but don't over-whip them or the cake will feel dry. Add the egg yolks into the cooled chocolate mixture, and stir to combine. Take one third of the egg whites and fold into the chocolate mixture, then gently pour this mixture back into the remaining egg whites and carefully fold. Don't over-fold, or the egg white foam will break, and your cake will deflate. Pour into the pan, and 20-25 minutes, or until the top begins to crack. An inserted knife will still come up damp, not dry. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Makes 8 servings.
Coffee ice cream:
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans
Heavy pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee
In a medium pot, combine the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cream, then warm over medium heat until steaming. Cover and take off of the heat, then set aside to steep for 1 hour. After it has finished steeping, place a metal bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice, and pour in the remaining cup of cream. Reheat the coffee bean mixture until steaming again. Whisk the egg yolks together, and add a small amount of the steaming milk into it while whisking to temper, then combine the tempered yolks back into the steaming milk while continuing to whisk to prevent curdling. Stir over medium heat using a wooden spoon until nappe, about 10 minutes. Strain into the chilled cream. Mix in the vanilla and ground coffee. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, then process ice cream as per manufacturer's directions.
Chile spice ice cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
2 jalapeños, or chiles of your choice, roughly chopped
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine 1/2 cup heavy cream with the milk, sugar, and chiles. Place into a medium pot over low heat. Once the mixture begins to steam, cover with a lid and set aside to steep for 1 hour. Bring this mixture back to a steam, then whisk the egg yolks together. Place the remaining cup of cream into a metal bowl, set into a larger bowl filled with ice. Carefully temper the egg yolks with a little bit of this steaming milk, then pour back into the milk mixture, making sure to whisk to prevent curdling. Place back over medium heat and continue to stir until nappe. Strain this mixture into the chilled cream, then add the remaining spices and stir. Refrigerate this mix for at least 2 hours, then process according to manufacturer's directions.
The coffee ice cream is heavenly on its own, but the chile ice cream definitely needs to be paired with some chocolate. The spice is pretty mild with all the dairy it's in, but it still has a bite that just doesn't feel right without some accompanying chocolate. The cake itself was heavenly, and like expected, it tasted just like a big Valrhona dark chocolate bar, but with the lighter mouthfeel of a cake. The ease of this cake means it's a great last-minute dessert, as far as fancy cakes can go.