Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers challenge - chocolate valentino cake

Ah, February, the month of love. And the Daring Bakers rose to the occasion, with hosts Wendy and Dharm nominating a decadent flourless chocolate valentino cake as our project.

The valentino cake, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan, comes from his book Sweet Treats. It is a simple composition of three ingredients: chocolate, butter and eggs. Part of the wondrous chemistry of cooking is that these three ingredients can be transformed, through melting, mixing and baking, into a dense, fudgy cake with a similar texture to a brownie. The finished cake tastes exactly like the chocolate that you use, so it is wise to use the best-quality chocolate (and indeed the other ingredients) that you can afford.

To make the cake, melt together 450g of chocolate and 150g of butter. Separate five eggs; add the egg yolks to the chocolate mix, then beat the egg whites to peaks and fold into the chocolate batter, pour into a tin and bake. The recipe called for the cake to be baked at 190 degrees for about 25 minutes but my cake took about 35 minutes. It is not a particularly attractive cake when unmoulded, with a cracked, misshapen top, but this is one cake where the attraction is in the taste, not the looks. I used dark Belgium chocolate for the cake, as I love its deep, rich, bittersweet tones.

Wendy and Dharm gave us the option of making vanilla ice-cream to their recipes, or choosing a recipe of our own. I elected to make coffee ice-cream, as coffee and dark chocolate is one of my favourite combinations. I made a basic custard, whisking egg yolks, caster sugar and a smidgen of cornflour together, before adding scalded milk and stirring over heat until thick. I made a cup of strong espresso coffee which I cooled and added to the custard. Once chilled, I added thick cream and churned it all in my ice-cream machine.

We don't really do anything special for Valentine's Day, but it is Adam's birthday a few days later, so I made this for the family gathering. The cake and ice-cream both received a rapturous reception. A heart-shaped tin is required to make a "proper" valentino cake but I don't own one, so made this cake in a round cake tin and served it in small wedges with a scoop of coffee ice-cream to the side. The cake was very rich and the coffee ice-cream provided a perfect foil. This is a rich dessert cake that requires an accompaniment; it is too rich and dark for afternoon tea, or to have on its own. The original recipe suggested serving the cake with whipped cream but this would be too insipid for my liking; I think it needs a strong, but complementary, flavour to match its assertive tones.

I really liked this cake and it is a simple, but impressive, dessert. The only drawback is the expense of the cake, as it requires a lot of chocolate. But it is worth splashing out if you want a grand chocolate finale to your dinner party. Thanks to Wendy and Dharm for this fun challenge!

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.


Lisa said...

Nice job, and what a great B=Day cake as far as timing went! Kudos!

Amy said...

Your cake looks lovely - well done!

minisuperbias said...

you're right, chocolate and coffee are a divine combo. great job!

Nico said...

very good selection for this month DB, thanks

Anonymous said...

Great birthday cake, lovely job.