Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers February - Chocolate Valentino

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.

I have to say I wasn't hugely excited about this challenge. I mean I love chocolate, don't get me wrong, but I'm kinda over all those chocolate lava style desserts and this seemed a little too similar to things I have made before. That being said, my husband was thrilled! And seeing it was Valentine's I made it in a mini heart pan just for him :)

I am a little off my game at the moment. I think I've mentioned before how I have been misreading recipes a bit lately. This time I read everything correctly but I went ahead and stuffed up anyway!

I ended up with far too much batter for my little pan and clearly remember saying to N "the recipe says to fill the pan 3/4 full" as I blithely went on and scraped every last bit of batter into the pan so it was practically overflowing. I'm sure you can guess what happened. We had a chocolate volcano explode in the oven. I would show you the photo but I'm too embarrassed about our dirty oven.

So my cake is not the prettiest (it honestly never occurred to me until a week later that I should have just pulled off the lumpy lava edges and turned it upside down for the photos) but my husband assured me it was absolutely sublime and suggested several times that if I really wasn't happy I should just make it again. Isn't that sweet? He's always thinking of his stomach me.

Chocolate Valentino
from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan

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.
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.

Easiest Creamiest Ice Cream Ever

600ml pure heavy cream
1 can condensed milk
vanilla extract to taste

Whip cream until it just starts to thicken then while still beating, drizzle in the condensed milk followed by the vanilla. Whip until it has at least doubled in volume. Freeze. Eat. Swoon.

Make sure you check out the other DBs posts for cakes far prettier than mine!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: (Crunchless) Caramel Bars

Mmmmmm ... was anyone else drooling at the mere thought of these?!

You will notice there is no 'crunch' with these bars. We can't get toffee bits in Australia and although I could have made my own English Toffee as someone suggested I decided to make a more traditional caramel slice instead. Purely because condensed milk caramel is one of my favourite things EVER.

I used Dorie's base (minus coffee and chocolate pieces) with caramel filling and melted chocolate on top. Recipe below!

Caramel Bars

1 ½ cup plain flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
240g unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Condensed Milk Caramel-
60g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 can condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius fan-forced. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan and line the base with baking paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

To make the base, whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon. Using a stand mixer beat the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another three minutes or until the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and turn off the mixer. Add all the dry ingredients, cover the stand mixer with a kitchen towel and pulse the mixer on and off at low speed about 5 times. Remove the towel, turn the mixer to low and mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated and you have a very heavy, sticky dough. Scrape the dough into the buttered pan and smooth it into a thin, even layer.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the base is bubbly and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the pan to a rack.

To make the caramel, place all ingredients in a heavy based saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to the boil, whisking continuously for approx 8 minutes or until the mixture is thick, bubbling and a deep golden brown. Don't stop whisking for even a second or you will end up with a lumpy, black mess (my first batch ended up this way but steel wool works wonders).

Pour over the cooked base and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely. When cool top with melted chocolate. Once set, slice into bars and devour.

This is a great alternative to the traditional boiled-in-the-can condensed milk caramel which I am still too afraid to try!

The taste test ...

Oh. My. God. This slice is sinfully rich. Make sure you cut into bite sized pieces! There is no way this could be made into icecream sandwiches although ... maybe chopped up and stirred through vanilla icecream? Yum!

Big thanks to Whitney of What’s Left on the Table for this week's awesome pick.

On another note, we did a little shopping over the weekend.

"Awww, sock!"
(a reference to How I Met Your Mother from last night if you saw it)

So "little" obviously refers to the size of each piece rather than quantity because check out that stash! We went a bit crazy but I don't think we bought a single thing that wasn't on a great special. There was one little jacket in particular which was $50 full price and we got it for $12.50 (and seriously $50 for that? I don't think so)

Baby stuff is just so cute!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Devil's Food White Out Cake

This week's TWD pick is definitely worthy of being the cover girl. It was gorgeous!

The cake itself was sensational. Really rich and chocolatey. I made minis and didn't have any problems with flat cakes, just the opposite in fact, these rose up into domes and didn't sink at all. I did forget to add the boiling water though. Maybe that had something to do with it?

I also decided not to make the frosting, instead using sweetened whipped cream. I haven't really got my head around the cooked frosting thing yet and am still on the anti-uncooked-egg bandwagon at the moment.

On that note, it seems I can't be trusted reading recipes at the moment. At least 3 times over the past week or so I have either misread something or completely overlooked a vital ingredient or process. I blame pregnancy brain! At least leaving out the water wasn't a problem, the results speak for themselves!

The taste test ...

Yum! I really loved this cake. The only problem I had was when it came to slicing it up. The cake wanted to slide all over the place on its pillows of whipped cream and the whole thing turned into a gooey delicious mess pretty quickly!

I'm really glad I made a mini version though because this would have been really dangerous to eat just between 3 of us! Thanks to Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater for this week's pick.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Classic Custard Tart

I've had custard on my mind ever since I decided not to make last week's TWD selection of Floating Islands. I absolutely adore custard and while I wholeheartedly avoid the bright yellow goop that passes for custard at the supermarket, strangely I don't make it very often at home.

I decided it would have to be baked to pass my food safety limitations at the moment, so custard tart it was!

What elevated this from the mundane was the fact I used whole fresh nutmeg for the first time. I know, where have I been?? Just like when first I tried a fresh vanilla bean, this was spectacular.

We loved this tart. So simple and elegant and not too sweet. You can find the recipe I used here. The only change I made was to the pastry - leaving out the egg yolk and water, replacing them with just enough apricot juice to bring it together. This added a lovely subtle flavour and most importantly, meant I could eat some uncooked. I love pastry!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: No Islands Here

So, the egg thing. Normally I love them but I now have one track pregnancy brain and cannot possibly allow myself to eat anything not totally cooked through. That means no floating islands. Sorry Shari!

I promise I will do better next week!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: World Peace Cookies and 2 Awards!

I'm so happy someone chose Dorie's World Peace Cookies. I've seen them floating around the blogosphere for probably 12 months but have never gotten around to making them. Thank you Jessica of Cookbookhabit!

As with most slice and bake cookies these were a breeze to whip up. And even better without any egg in the mix I could eat the cookie dough! So I did ... lots!

I know many people found them very crumbly to slice. I had the same problem but they did squeeze back together pretty well. Any bits leftover, well, I ate them!

The taste test ...

Sensational. What else can I say? I really loved these and can see them becoming a regular. I ended up using salted butter (because that's all I had left) and added a few grinds of salt from the grinder so I have no way of knowing how close to the required amount I actually got. Next time I'll make them exactly as is.

All my taste testers agreed these were probably the best chocolate chip cookies they'd eaten! Although my husband still prefers the Whopper Drops - in his mind that is now the standard against which all Dorie's cookies are measured! :)

UPDATE - they taste great frozen ... so much for hiding them in the freezer!

It makes me so happy that other people do actually read and enjoy my blog. Over the past few weeks I have received 3 awards from 2 lovely bloggers - the Lemonade Award from Cakelaw and My Baking Heart and the Fabulous Blog Award also from My Baking Heart.

Thanks ladies, you made my day! If you haven't already checked out their blogs make sure you do!

The rule of the awards are:
1. Put the logo on your blog/post.
2. Nominate other fabulous blogs which show great attitude
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let your nominees know that they have received the award by commenting on their blog.
5. Link this post to the person who gave you this award.

I am passing both awards on to the following bloggers:

Annie of Annie's Eats
Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies
Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes
Heather of Sherry Trifle
Mary of The Food Librarian
Prudy of Prudence Pennywise
Wendy of Pink Stripes

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