Saturday, February 28, 2009
This month's challenge was to make a flourless chocolate cake, as well as an ice cream that would accompany the cake. While I usually love the ice-cream-and-cake combo, I think something as dense as this cake is best served with a generous dollop of loosely-whipped cream and/or a sprinkle of tart berries. What was really exciting about this challenge was the ice cream. The pairing of dark chocolate with caramel seemed perfectly logical and when faced with a doubt regarding one's intuition, logic is the best way to approach any given task. I think. The cake was good. It was easy to make and I think it's safe to assume that a good percentage of us who likes chocolate has had this cake.
Now, the ice cream.
What I made was really a sorbet and I wish I had made an ice cream instead, but this was a good (and still completely delicious) learning experience. I caramelized about a pound of white chocolate (only about a half of that amount is needed for the sorbet) at 230 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate's initial creamy-hued self turned into a beautiful block of caramel with an amber marbling, the organic design that was reminiscent of the bouncy, golf-sized rubber balls with crazy swirly colors that I would buy for less than a quarter as a kid. This unexpected recalling of a moment from my childhood all but took about 50, 60 minutes, but the temperature and the cooking time all depend on one's preference in color and flavor, so any clever variation or diversion from the method that I employed should still result in something equally noteworthy. The finished chocolate is nutty, drier (I could almost crumble mine) and sweeter than it's former self and would work better in ice creams than sorbets. I only say that because the fat in the chocolate would meld better into a custard-based ice cream than it did with this sorbet, which has water and milk. I'll cook the chocolate a bit longer next time for a "burnt" taste and color.
(Recipe from The Daring Bakers Kitchen, slightly bastardized)
4 ounces of dark chocolate, roughly chopped
4 ounces of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of good-quality, high-fat, unsalted butter
2 eggs separated, plus 1 separated egg yolk or white
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.
Caramelized White Chocolate Sorbet
1.5 c whole milk
2/3 c water (a little less is fine, too)
about half pound of caramelized white chocolate, chopped
half vanilla bean
a quick splash of whiskey
a quick splash of liquid smoke (optional)
1. Heat over low-medium heat the milk, water, chocolate, and bean with its seeds scraped and added to the liquid, and bring to a very gentle simmer.
2. Once the chocolate has completely melted, turn off heat and strain the liquid into a clean bowl over an ice bath. Stir until the liquid has cooled.
3. Add the whiskey and liquid smoke.
4. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.