Friday, February 27, 2009

February Daring Bakers... Chocolate Valentino!

Back for another Daring Bakers Challenge! This month we are doing a flourless chocolate cake aka 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.
What is in a flourless chocolate cake you ask? Well, there is chocolate... butter... and eggs. The end. That's it?! Yes, that's it. Really. Now I am not going to lie... I was totally prepared to HATE this cake. I really don't like chocolate and this is just too much. Buuut upon making the cake I decided it didn't totally suck. I decided I would make a caramel sauce because chocolate and caramel is a nice pairing, no? Then I got a little nuts. I made roasted banana ice cream, thinking caramel and banana= bananas foster= yum. So that's cool. Chocolate cake, roasted banana ice cream and caramel sauce. Simple and tasty. Then I decided I wanted in on this bacon-in-sweet-things action. I made bacon ice cream too. So chocolate cake, bacon ice cream and caramel sauce. well it sound like it should work right? Oh and did I mention I cant eat egg yolks? Read on...

Chocolate Valentino from DB
454 g (1lb) chocolate, roughly chopped
146 g of unsalted butter
5 large eggs, separated
1. Put chocolate and butter in a bowl. Nuke in microwave for 1 minute bursts until smooth and melty.
2. While your chocolate and butter mixture is cooling, butter you baking pan (I used 4 oz Apilco ramekins).
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put the whites into a large bowl and the yolks into a small bowl.
4. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. Stir the yolks with a fork until runny and lighter.
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 (some white really is okay).
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F for 12 minutes (for the ramekins).
9. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then carve around edges with a SHARP knife and unmold.

Roasted Banana Ice Cream
3 bananas, cut into 1 in pieces
1/3 c brown sugar
2 c half and half
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped
2 t lemon juice
1. Heat oven to 400F.
2. Toss bananas and brown sugar together, then spread in a baking dish.
3. Roast for about 25 min, stirring halfway trough.
4. Scrape bananas and all the sugary, sticky goodness into blender. Blend.
5. Add half and half, vanilla seeds and lemon juice and blend until smooth.
6. Freeze according to your ice cream maker.
*If you don't have an ice cream maker you could add some brandy (2-4 Tablespoons-ish) to this and put in a shallow dish. Place the dish in your freezer and pull out every 30 min and beat with a handheld mixer. Tedious, but it works. The -OH keeps huge ice crystals from forming.
7. Put in freezer!

Bacon Brittle Ice cream
1/2 lb bacon (preferably thick cut), diced
2 T brown sugar
1 T butter
1/4 c maple syrup
2 c half and half
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped
2 T brandy
1. Prepare bacon for its ice cream adventure. Fry up the diced bacon until crispy. Drain well. Set aside.
2. Heat brown sugar and butter in microwave (1 min bursts) until it makes a caramely like sauce. 3. Stir in about 2/3 of the bacon and pour mixture into a greased plate or cookie sheet. Let cool.
4. While bacon brittle is cooling, make your ice cream. Mix half and half, maple syrup, vanilla seeds and brandy in a bowl.
5. Freeze according to your ice cream maker.
6. While ice cream is freezing, chop up the cooled bacon brittle.
7. When Ice cream is nearly done freezing add bacon brittle and the 1/3 you saved before (that wasn't added to the brittle).
8. Chuck in freezer in a well-sealed container.

Caramel Sauce
1.5 c sugar
2 T H2O
2 T butter
3/4 c heavy cream
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
1. Heat sugar and water in a pan over medium heat, swirling occasionally. DO NOT STIR (will cause your sugar to eff up... just don't do it).

2. When the sugar melts and turns brown (happens really fast) add the butter and stir a little (okay, NOW you can stir). Remove from heat.
3. Add the heavy cream and stir. It will bubble a lot, so be careful.
4. Add vanilla and salt.
4. Done. Store in fridge and just microwave when youe ready for it to be warm and gooey. Its pretty simple but for a more detailed description go here.

Banana ice cream in foreground, bacon in background.
Mmmmm caramel sauce...
I wanted to represent the ingredients. You all are lucky I didn't throw
a strip of bacon in the background for good measure!
Bacon Brittle Ice Cream
Roasted Banana Ice Cream
Inside of de cake.
CAKE- Now I would like to say that I did have a bite of the cake. I used dark chocolate (not super dark) and did not add any sugar, and surprisingly, I liked it! I still don't think I could eat even one whole little cake, its still A LOT of chocolate. More and more though, I think its the ridiculous amount if sugar in chocolate things that I don't like. I don't have big sweet tooth (salt tooth anyone?) so maybe that's it? Maybe my tastes are changing and I am just beginning to dig the stuff. Who knows? I would much prefer a fruity dessert to a chocolaty one still. Oh and did I mention that I will be making myself a yolk-free one soon? We'll have to see how that affects it. My body refuses to digest yolks, so I cant eat the cake. One little bite is okay though... ;) As far as chocolate desserts go, molten chocolate cakes win, but this wasnt bad... just too much for me.
ICE CREAM- The roasted banana was awesome!!! If you like bananas foster it tastes like that... but ice cream! Seriously Im going to spoon some out of the freezer right now... lol. The bacon ice cream was good too, but it had that hint of salty/sweet and maple flavor as well. More complex than the banana for sure. I would maybe serve it with something less in-your-face like this cake is. Maybe with a simple apple pie it would work? The choc just competes too much with it, flavor wise. But still... its bacon. Bacon ice cream. Insta-love.
My cheap set up...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rainbow Cake.

My Step-Sister/Roomie/BFFs Bday was last weekend. I wanted to do something awesome for the cake, because at this point my family just expects me to do all the baking and make it grand to boot. I guess I dug that hole myself. Oh well, I wouldn't have it any other way. So Britny is the kind of person that will eat frozen pizzas for every meal given the choice. Its hard to accept sometimes, me being a foodie and all. This is why I didn't feel bad using a boxed mix. Cue family reacting in horror as they discover I used a boxed cake mix (thanks guys). I got the idea from Omnomicon (Jan 7, 2009 post... for some reason my hyperlink isn't working right now. Grrrr). I followed the directions on the box though, no WW for me.

Rainbow cake
1 box Duncan Hines french vanilla cake mix, prepared

1. Prepare cake mix according to the the package. I divided the cake mix into 6 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet (ROYBV). No indigo here, sorry indigo. I used my scale to weigh the prepared batter, and decided I needed about 6.5 oz for each color so I would have an equal amount per color. Weighed out 6.5 oz into cups and set aside. Well, the last one had like 5 oz b/c I decided I needed to eat some batter. What?
2. Mix the colors according to how dark you want them in each cup. I used Wilton color pastes b/c you only have to use a little teeny bit to get a lot of color. ***Please ohmigod please make sure you get 'Wilton TASTE FREE red'. If not your cake may taste like... plastic. Do it. For me. We discovered this the hard way when making red rice krispy treats for valentine's.
3. Pour half the mix in one pan and half in the other in order (ROYGBV). Just pour in, tap the pan once to spread it and pour the next in the center. Repeat.
4. Bake according to the instructions.

4 oz butter, room temp
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 t vanilla

1. Cream butter and cream cheese.
2. Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time and blend.
3. Add vanilla.
4. If too thin add a little more sugar, if too thick add a little milk.
5. Cover and set aside, we want it to be room temp for spreading.

1. After the cake has cooled, cut off the domed tops and feed scraps to nearby children/pets/self.
2. Put first layer on cake plate, cut side up and spread with frosting. Place second cake layer on the frosted first layer, cut side down. You will have a "cake sammie" with the two cut sides in the middle. This is so the cake will be ice and flat once its frosted.
3. Apply crumb coat. It will be thin and transparent but its sole purpose is to trap [rainbow] crumbs so they don't litter your beautiful frosting like a Jackson Pollock painting. Refrigerate cake for 2-4 hours, until crumb coat is hard.
4. Frost the rest of the cake to your heart's desire. I left the frosting white because I though it was a nice contrast to the inside. But, you know... its your cake so do whatever you want!
5. Enjoy.

Taste & Create #2: Passion + Love + Patience = Good Food.

Well, here I am continuing the T&C trades! I really enjoy doing it. I missed the Dec/Jan one because I was in Ecuador, not gonna lie... I'm not too sad about the trade! But here I am stateside again and its time to get back to all my stateside things. Sooo, here for the 2nd T&C I was paired with Shilpa of Passion + Love + Patience = Good Food. I was originally going to do the Cauliflower Curry recipe, but I logged on again to get the recipe and saw a green curry recipe. It seemed so fresh and vibrant with herbs and it featured one of my fave things: coconut milk. So my mind changed , fast. Dory Green Fish Curry. I did everything the same except I substituted in zucchini for the fish. Why? I don't know, it sounded good and I like zucchini. A mild veg to really let the curry shine through.

Zucchini Green Curry
1 big yellow onion, chopped
2 zucchini, sliced
8-10 sprigs of parsley leaves
8-10 sprigs of basil leaves
3 sprigs of mint leaves
3 green chillies (I left this out because I am wimpy with de spice)
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
coconut milk
salt to taste

1. In a blender, blend coriander, basil and mint. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Fry onions till it starts turning light brown.
3. Add ginger garlic paste. Fry for 1 or 2 mins.
4. Add the zucchini and fry for 1 or 2 mins.
5. Add the blended mixture and cook for 1 or 2 mins on low-medium flame.
6. Add the coconut milk for the consistency you desire. Cook on low-medium flame for about 4 mins.

Curry, done. The daffodils were blooming so I had to include them!

Close up, with a little extra coconut milk.


I really liked this. It was super simple and very tasty. I love that. Minimal effort for max flavor. I suspect you could add anything to it, while keeping the sauce the same. Yum.

Thanks Shilpa!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Craftiness in the kitchen.

Here's a really neat little idea for kitchen decorating. Use coat hangers to make book hangers! I am a big fan of using cheap stuff for decorations, especially since I am in college (almost done). I like nice/cute/eclectic things so this works for me. I decided to showcase some books that were neat in their ideas, art or general look. It doesn't matter if I use them b/c I will just pull them off the hangers. No biggie.

Finished wall o' books.

Side view. You can see my later versions in the foreground and my earlier tries in the background. Plus, I MIGHT have been a little distracted b/c I was watching V for Vendetta while bending the hangers.

Side view of a finished hanger.

Front view. I got plastic covered hangers from my local store.

Not perfect though...

A great book! I just got it and I love it! I have already made a recipe from it (to be posted later). I really boils down to eating REAL FOOD.

Oh, Jaime. Good recipes, with combos I would not have thought of.

Some more of my cookbooks in the kitchen. There are more still in the office. I have a lot of books...