Friday, February 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge for February: Flourless Chocolate "Valentino" Cake

When I saw that this month's challenge was a flourless chocolate cake, I danced a jig in my soul...these are easy cakes to make, they come out great and the challenge allowed us to make an ice cream of our choice. I haven't made ice cream in ages so that was an added "bonus".

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. They chose 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 did mint ice cream instead.

The first thing that hit me about the recipe was its minimalist ingredients...I have made flourless chocolate cakes, and my favorite one has 1/2 cup of sugar in it. I assume this is to cut the "bitter" from the bittersweet / semisweet chocolate. And so, not wanting to mess with the recipe, I made it exactly as printed.

The cake was very easy to make (melt chocolate and butter, beat egg whites, voila) and it puffed up really nice. As it was baking, I made mint ice cream from Pierre Herme's Chocolate Desserts cookbook, which was easy to make and delicious but incorporated waaaaaay too many mint leaves. I don't like to chew my ice cream! But at least my dessert had fiber.

So the judgment hour was upon me as I brought my cakes and my ice cream to a friend's house for dinner. The first bite was definitely an 'oh wow this is good' bite for all of us. But I noticed that after about 3 bites, all the forks kind of went down and coffee drinking and chatting continued. Why were we not devouring this dessert? It was chocolate, it was cake, it was VALRHONA and cost me a bundle to make! Eat, dammit!! EAT! I know at that moment I wasn't even involved in the conversation, I was just waiting for someone to eat. But they seemed done. Why?

I think, in all honesty, that the chocolate (56% cacao) was too bittersweet, and that the recipe needed that 1/2 cup of sugar. This clarifies why the other flourless chocolate cakes I've made included a bit of sugar and tasted better in the end. I do think that this cake was good, but that the sugar would have made it much more "devourable".

In all, this is a good recipe but not the one I will use for flourless chocolate cake in the future. Or maybe I'll try it again, but add some sugar and see how it turns out! As for the ice cream, it was delicious...but Pierre calls for one heck of a lot of chopped mint!

Bon appetit!

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.

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.


Dana McCauley said...

Sounds like you and I had the same reactions at our dining tables and in our minds!

Nice work on your post, none-the-less!

FoodieFroggy said...

As I made a black&white cake, I did not have the same problem as you. But your cakes look cute though.

glamah16 said...

Mine could have used that extra sugar too. And I think thats what would have contrubuted to a more fudgier texture. Nevrtheless , wondrful job.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! Both your cake and ice cream look mighty scrumptious!



StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

What scrumptious looking cake! I love what you did with it. Mint ice cream is the perfect choice. Wish I'd thought of it! ;) Beautiful job!

The Furie Queene said...

I had the same reaction to the cake. The ice cream, though, definitely helped to lighten the taste, if that makes sense. Would you mind posting your ice cream recipe? I have yet to make a mint ice cream that I am happy with.

Lisa Michelle said...

Lesley, your Valentino and ice cream turned out marvelous and I totally agree about the sugar which is why I made my Valentino using white and dark chocolate.

In any event, I was browsing through Aran's blog, and saw your comment about feeling like throwing in the towel when it came to both she and Helene's creations and photography. I was laughing as I feel exactly the same Those gals are on a level that's almost out of this realm - amazing skills!