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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.   I thought last month’s challenge was simple, but this month wins for the most minimalist of all recipes attempted for Daring Bakers Challenge thus far.  When there are only three ingredients, the quality of the three is paramount.  I used E. Guittard dark chocolate and as I was forwarned, the cake tasted exactly like the chocolate used. 

This month I had a slight cake disaster, and as I completed the challenge the day before the posting date, I had neither the time nor the inclination to make another cake.  Here’s what I learned:

  •  Use an 8″ (or larger) pan.  I thought that the recipe called for an 8″ heart pan, which seemed to me to translate to a 7″ pan.  I even scoured my local kitchenware store for the non-standard sized 7″ spring form cake pan.  It made the cooking time longer to have such a deep cake, not to mention the cake’s precariously rising above the edge of the pan.

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  • Do not unmold the pan after 10 minutes, as the recipe calls for.  My cake oozed out immediately after being freed from its form.  And like toothpaste, you can’t put it back in the tube.  It would have been fine it I had simply let it cool completely in the pan.


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Oh dear.


Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time:  20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
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.

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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.


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My son, the chocoholic,  thought the cake smelled heavenly.


 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)

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We were required to make an ice cream to accompany the dense cake, and I opted for a classic vanilla bean recipe, using organic cream and milk.   The verdict?  Decadently rich, a sliver of this cake goes a long way, even for self-admitted chocoholics.  Thanks to this month’s hosts for a wonderful challenge!


IMG_2906 by you.

When you have a seemingly endless supply of figs, one tries a variety of methods of prepare this distinctly sweet and rich fruit.  I had decided to make a fig ice cream and came upon this recipe from Epicurious with the irresistible title “Isabella’s Aphrodisiac Ice Cream.”  Despite the probability that this ice cream would have about as much sexual-enhancing properties as oysters or rhinoceros horns, I gave it the old college try. 

It had a nice crunch and rich creamy taste, although the fig taste wasn’t as strong as I would have liked.  And inasmuch as it was awfully good, this ice cream, I am sad to report, isn’t going to give horny goat weed and Spanish fly any competition. 

Isabella’s Aphrodisiac Ice Cream (adapted from Epicurious)

1/2 C. sliced almonds
1 1/2 C. whole milk
4 egg yolks
3/4 C. of sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 C. heavy cream, chilled
1 C. peeled and mashed rich ripe figs
1 tsp. vanilla

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Preheat oven to 350° F.  Place almonds on a cookie sheet and roast for 3-5 minutes until just golden.  Set aside.

In a stainless steel bowl, or double boiler, whisk the yolks with the sugar and salt for 3 minutes, or until pale yellow. Add hot milk slowly while whisking. Place the stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmer water and cook whisking constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the custard from the water and stir in the chilled cream, mashed figs, and vanilla.   Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions.  In the last couple of minutes of churning, add almonds.  Freeze until hardened.

Olive Oil Gelato

May 30, 2008

Homemade olive oil gelato

 I’ve reached a bit of a landmark here on my blog – I’ve received my first recipe request.  My sister-in-law’s husband is a fan of Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca Pizzeria on Fifth and 8th St. in Manhattan, and especially of their olive oil gelato. 

“You … you can make that?” he queried hopefully. 

“Absolutely,” I assured him with the bravado of the very arrogant or the very foolish.

A quick google search later, I discovered that Chef Mario had included the recipe for his famous olive oil gelato in one of his cookbooks.  Thank goodness.


Olive Oil Gelato

(adapted from The Babbo Cookbook)

6 egg yolks
1 C. sugar
2/3 C. extra virgin olive oil
3 C. milk
1 C. heavy cream

Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the whip attachment to beat them for 5 min on medium speed, or until the mixture is thick and very pale and forms a ribbon when the whip is lifted.  Continue beating and drizzle in the olive oil; beat for 2 more minutes.

Warning:  this recipe uses raw eggs.  Williams-Sonoma has a variation of this recipe with cooked egg; however, it does add a couple of hours to your cooking time since you must wait for the mixture to cool completely.

Add the milk and cream and continue to beat until all ingredients are combined.


Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  This took some planning since I needed to pre-freeze the bowl of the ice cream maker for 8+ hours.

I thought it would taste fruity, but no, it tastes like olive oil.  However, olive oil paired with frozen cream is unexpectedly delicious and refreshing.  The sweetly salty fluer de sel is the perfect counter to the rich creaminess of the gelato.  Molto bene, Mario.

 Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fluer de sel sea salt. 

(Your gelato is in the freezer, Blake.)