Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers : For the Love of Chocolate. Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coffee-Cardamom Ice Cream

I am not at all adventurous when it comes to chocolate. Only eat those candy bars type. I don't even do hot chocolate or chocolate ice cream or fudge. Boring, I know. However, I joined Daring Bakers for reasons. To challenge myself with baking adventures. No excuse about like or dislike over chocolate. Plus, I have never made flourless cake. And at that, home-made ice cream?!!

The cake is quite good. It's very rich and dense, not exactly my cuppa tea, but I have a feeling that it must be a huge hit for chocolate lover. Say if I were to make this for my grandma and my dad, both of them will fight off each other for the last crumb. Oh! It would be perfect for fancy dinner party.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

1 lbs semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stickplus 2 tablespoons 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. {link of folding demonstration}
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.

Bit timid about ice cream part. I told my mom about it and felt like hitting my head afterward because I just knew it!! She says 'But it shouldn't be that hard. Your grandpa used to make it..ya da yadayada..' I find it amusing that my grandpa and his brother used to make ice cream at home. My mom said it was to entertain the kids (read: my mom and her 6 siblings and dozen of cousins) and put them to some useful work - cranking the ice cream drum. Though no one in family made any home-made ice cream once my grandpa passed.

So armed with hand blender - I buzzzzzeeddd and mixed my way through. Oh WOW! Did I really just make home-made ice cream?!

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted - cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes

2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

Vik was absolutely in love with the ice cream. Scraping off the bowl of his second serving, while subtly giving hints of what flavors next home-made ice cream should be. Huh. Did not remember telling him I'd be making it again.

However, truth to be told, I was blown away by the ice-cream and can't wait to experiment with different flavors. What about green tea for St.Patrick's Day party?! I sorta whipped it (perhaps) way too many times than necessary, simply just so I could lick the leftover off the whisk.

I decided to make coffee and cardamom ice cream cause, sounded good. Have always loved cardamom as spices: it gives such a special aroma and hint of warmth and 'mmhhh' factor to dessert. Then of course, coffee and cake pairing just sounds right.

Made only half recipe of the cake, plenty for the two of us and still enough to give as a 'thank you' token for a client. Boxed it up, drizzled with some glaze - a quick whip of coconut juice and confectioner sugar. To prevent the cake from moving around, I tossed in some home-made candied citrus peel.

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.

February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

India Trip 2: The Chow

Without further ado...

Oh, this little package. Ain't it pretty?! It's Paan. And since I am no expert in it, I won't go all lengthy in explanation. In nutshell, it's a filled up betel leaf. There are many variety of paan, according to its fillings - sweet, tobacco, spices/herbs (cardamom, saffron, fennel, etc). I guess it's similar to what 'Sirih/Sireh' is in Indonesia. It is believed to freshen up palate as much as helping with digestion after meal.

I have tried only couple different ones. And personally think it's too perfumey and sweet. The smell of it, I like. To chew it in my mouth, that..I don't like. However, my dad (to my surprise) seems to enjoy it!

The gentleman in this below photo - we pretty much walked by him few times within the 2 nights we stayed in Delhi. With my fear about taking photos of things/ other people in public, I kept throwing (what I felt) charming smiles at him, hoping he'd notice and back, maybe? Oh no. Did not happen.

But I really wanted to take this picture!! Especially due to the fact that my mom in law made fresh paneer few days before that and just thought it'd be nice to see the differences, you know?

Me (to Vik): Can you go and take his picture? (Yes, I am that pathetic!)
Vik (sipping on Thumbs Up - carbonated drink, similar to Pepsi): You go! He won't mind. Seriously. It makes more sense if you are the one taking the picture. You are the tourist, anyway. (Insert sarcasm here)
Me: Can you come with me at least, please pretty please? (My dad would be so ashamed of me!)
So we walked and I gave the guy the sweetest smile I could mustered and asked 'Can I take a photo?' He nodded or..shook his head, in a way of agreeing.
Me (smile in triumph): You think I can ask him to smile? (whispering to Vik)
Vik: Err..let's dont push our luck!

This one was made by mom in law. Pretty much, when milk comes to boil, squeeze in some lime juice (or vinegar) and let it curdles. Strain and mold to shape.

Next is green chana. Green chick peas. Bought raw in its pods and then dry roasted in a pan, giving a delicious smokey slightly burnt flavor to it.

Khaman, maybe one of my favorite Indian snacks of all time. I could skip breakfast, lunch and dinner just for this. Pretty much a snack food, though it can be made at home, it's equally normal to get it from store - easier and economical and the taste is just as good. Seems like the texture varies depending on the store. Denser in some stores. Airy and fluffy in some. I love airy fluffly lighter version. With tons of cilantro and chutney!

This is new for me. Fafrad. It's fried dough made of chickpea flour and is eaten along with pickled vegetables and green mangoes. During the 2 weeks we were in India, we ate fafra oh..about 5 times!

I had quite hard time taking good photos of plated dishes though. When dishes are something with some sort of gravy, it always came out bit 'slobbish/globbish' in photos, no? I guess if I have the time to arrange it and under adequate light, it'd be okay. However, I am nervous enough about taking food photos in

Oh tandoori naan!!! These guys were smiling when I brought out my camera, I assume that they are accustomed to such 'attention.'

According to my mother in law, dinner is not complete without dessert. Not much of dessert person, however, I rarely say no to a good gulab jamun. So, we headed to Bikanervala and sample few items. Mmmh.
The drink in the earthen clay cup is thandai or badam thandai (milk beverage with almonds, cardamom, saffron, and some other seeds), ladled from the pot insert on the cart.

Oh and .. just a random food related photo. Our schedule was quite a mess on that particular day, due to the high traffic (Christmas holiday) on our way to Amber Fort. Hence, we took a quick detour and made a stop at city park - so starved that we decided to grab a plate of noodles. It was not mind blowing by any means, but for about USD 0.50, it kept us going for couple hours.