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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Initiatiation into Daring Bakers: Chocolate Valentino

I am officially a Daring Baker! Olga at Mango & Tomato suggested I join a while back, and after a lot of contemplation, I joined. I'm not much of a club joiner, but this group seemed doable and would put my new-found baking skills to the test. And the first challenge did that...I had to use several techniques that I had never used before. (I'm a little embarrassed to say that those basic techniques included separating eggs, whipping egg whites, and making my own whipped cream, but that's the reason I joined!)

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. They 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 opted not to make the ice cream for a few reasons. First, I don't have an ice cream maker here in Strasbourg. There are several DBs who made ice cream by hand, but I have a two year old and a European-sized freezer. Hand making ice cream requires some attention that my daughter wouldn't have allowed and it also requires space in a freezer. My freezer isn't tiny, but it's full of frozen stock at the moment. I'm actually glad that I went for the simple whipped cream since I think it went better with the texture of the cake than ice cream would have.

So, what I finally made was the Chocolate Valentino cake with mixed berry coulis and mandarin whipped cream. It was delicious! My husband loved it too and said that it tasted just like other flourless chocolate cakes he's had in restaurants. (Since I'm a bigger fan of fruits, I don't often order chocolate desserts, so had never had a flourless chocolate cake.) It was a simple enough recipe to make, and I'm sure I'll make it again for special occasions or to impress my coworkers. ;-) I think that next time, though, unless I'm serving a crowd, I'll halve the recipe. This recipe made one smallish cake (which could have been shared between two people) and a medium-sized rectangular cake. Since it doesn't store well (loses texture), make just what you need.

Chocolate Valentino
Text-Only Version
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used 300g 70% dark chocolate and 154g milk chocolate for a sweeter taste.)
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. (I did not use parchment paper, and just buttered the pans.)
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. (I cooked the smaller cake for about 20 minutes and the larger one for 25 minutes.)
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.
As I mentioned, I served the cake with a mixed berry coulis and mandarin whipped cream. Both were an excellent addition to the heaviness and richness of the chocolate.

Mandarin Whipped Cream
adapted from Epicurious

1/2 cup mandarin juice
2 Tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp grated mandarin peel
3/4 cup chilled whipping cream

Boil the juice and the sugar until it is reduced by half, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Mix in the peel and set aside to cool.

Once the syrup is cooled, whisk (or use a mixer) the cream and 3 Tbl of the syrup to soft peaks.

Mixed Berry Coulis

2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbl cornstarch
1 Tbl orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Over low heat, cook berry mixture until it has reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Blend in food processor and then strain through a fine-mesh strainer to create a smooth sauce.
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.


Lauren February 28, 2009 at 12:46 PM  

Mmm, your cake looks great and the mandarin whipped cream sounds divine =D!!

Amy February 28, 2009 at 8:53 PM  

Well done on your fisrt challenge! It looks wonderful.

Mindy March 1, 2009 at 2:48 PM  

Thanks, Lauren and Amy! It was fun to make...

Mary March 1, 2009 at 11:42 PM  

Ooh--mandarin sounds yummy. Great job on your first challenge...welcome to DB!

Mindy March 2, 2009 at 10:54 AM  

Thanks, MaryMary, for your welcome!

Anonymous,  March 2, 2009 at 12:58 PM  

Welcome to teh Daring Bakers!
Your cake looks great!! Your presentation is very nice too!

Thats a good idea about adding the required text to the end of your post in the same font colour as your background.. I never thought of doing that!

Anonymous,  March 3, 2009 at 11:14 PM  

Nice presentation.. the mandarin whipped cream sounds like a good addition for many desserts.

Mindy March 4, 2009 at 3:50 AM  

Thanks, Nicole and Jude. Yes, I think mandarin whipped cream is going to be a staple in my repertoire from now on. It really was quite good!

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