I’ve never really understood the hype about Valentines Day. I’m not bitter, I just think it’s overly commercialised. I would rather show love on a daily basis, rather than on one day a year when society wants me to. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t need flowers to feel loved (though chocolate is always acceptable). It’s the sweet and thoughtful gestures that I (and I think most women generally) appreciate the most. The time that he cooked dinner for us when I was busy finishing up an assignment, that he bought the box of tissues with cute puppies on it to make me smile when I was sick, that he express-posted cupcakes to me on my birthday.
The February Challenge consisted of:
– A Flourless chocolate cake
– An accompanying ice cream of our choice
I was excited when I heard about this month’s challenge. And completely without meaning to, I baked this up on Valentines Day itself. The reason behind that is sort of amusing – we are doing a big kitchen renovation and the oven was to be ripped out the following day, so it was my last chance to complete the February challenge! It was nice to send the oven off in style. I used semi-sweet dark chocolate with about 60% cocoa solids, since the cake recipe doesn’t contain any sugar and I didn’t want it to be too bitter. It amazes me that a cake with only three ingredients can turn into something so rich and delicious. The taste depends entirely on the chocolate you use, so pick one that you love.
My favourite thing about the challenge was the ice cream component. You see, making ice cream is my new obsession, especially now that I don’t have an oven handy. I had made this Dulce De Leche ice cream from Gourmet magazine before, without an ice cream maker so I was very keen to try it again with one. The result was unbelievable – so creamy and perfect, which is even more surprising given that it isn’t a custard-based ice cream recipe! The only problem was, when served with the cake, the intense chocolate flavour slightly overpowered the dulce de leche. I imagine that this ice cream would be amazing with something like a banana tarte tatin.
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.
• 454g semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
• 146g unsalted butter
• 5 large eggs, separated
1. Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water and melt, stirring often
2. While the chocolate mixture is cooling, butter your baking pan and line with a circle of baking paper, then butter the paper.
3. Separate the eggs and put the whites and yolks into two separate large bowls and whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
4. With the same beater, beat the egg yolks together, and then add to the cooled chocolate.
5. Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with the remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.
6. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake at 190ºC (375ºF) for 25 minutes. The top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet. Cool on a cake rack for 10 minutes before unmolding.
Dulce De Leche Ice Cream
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes about 1.4L (1 ½ quarts)
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 2/3 cup dulce de leche
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Bring milk and cream to the boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, then remove from the heat and whisk in the dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
2. Transfer to a metal bowl. Quick chill by putting into a sink filled with cold water and ice cubes, stirring occasionally until cold, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Freeze in an ice cream maker until almost firm, and then transfer to an airtight container and put into the freezer to harden, for at least 1 hour.