Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Daring Bakers Challenge- Chocolate Valentino

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.

Flourless chocolate cake. What more can I say? This was a fun experience. Since the recipe calls for semisweet chocolate, and my real life "Valentino" won't touch it (sigh), I made it instead with a nice milk chocolate called Galaxy in the UK, or Dove in the States.
The result was a soft, decadent, cake-version of a chocolate bar. I baked mine in two shallow 8 inch round pans, resulting in cakes the thickness of brownies, rather than a cake, since I spread the batter thinner than if I had used one deep pan, which I don't have at the moment.

I cut the cakes into hearts, and plated them with Amaretto Frozen Custard... sounds good, right? Well, I would post that recipe, but the technique I used resulted in something that did taste nice, but the texture was an icy, yet fattening, slop. So I can't bring myself to recommend it, as I threw it out.

The Valentino, however, is good-- no, it's great-- taste and texture. Below are my notes on the recipe, followed by the recipe itself. Thank you for hosting, Wendy and Dharm!!

-- Many DB'ers found using full-on semi-sweet resulted in a bitter cake, even to those die-hard chocolate fans. I would probably say half-milk, half-semi would be good.
--I used 454 grams of milk chocolate, and reduced the butter by 2 tablespoons.
--I reduced the baking time by almost half, as I had two pans and a fan-assisted oven.

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.
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.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wholy Pretzels!

At Edinburgh's annual German market, I was a big fan of the big, soft pretzels. Inexcusably full of white carbs, I restrained myself... but with the German market over and done with, I miss those lil guys, even if my thighs don't. WINK.

I found a recipe in my new Rachel Allen cookbook, a Christmas present, which is a great resource for hunger-inducing ideas. Here I have adopted her recipe for soft pretzels into a more healthful 100% whole wheat version, and in part, a glazed raisin variety.

These are especially worth making because you can use them as a replacement for the usual sandwich bread or toast. I like to have one paired with soup for lunch, or half of one with an apple and cheese for a pre-workout snack.

Try it. You'll be saying "mmm, schmcekt gut!" in no time.

Wholy Pretzels (makes about 12, depending on how big you like them)

  • 500g strong whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp fast-acting yeast
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 375 ml warm water
  • rock salt
For the baking soda boil:
  • 75g baking soda
  • 1 liter water
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, and make a well in the center.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients and add them slowly, mixing in between additions. You can mix this with your hands, which is fun.
  3. Knead the mixture for 10 minutes, until the dough bounces back to shape when poked with your finger. It should be quite firm, but not flaky and dry, nor sticky.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place until doubled in size (1-3 hours, mine took only 1).
  5. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees C (450 F) and line baking trays with parchment.
  6. Punch the dough down and divide into 12 (or less or more) semi-even-sized pieces.
  7. For each pretzel, roll the dough into a long snake, about as thick as a Sharpie. Twist the ends together and fold the ends over the middle of the pretzel and press down to seal the shape.
  8. After shaping all the pretzels, cover them up with plastic wrap and let them rise again for 15 minutes.
  9. During the end of the second rising, bring the water to a boil, and add the baking soda. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  10. Place the pretzels, 2 at a time, in the water. Simmer for 30 seconds, then flip to simmer 30 more seconds on the other side. Remove and place back on the lined tray. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top.
  11. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes, turning them over half way through if needed.

*Instead of salt, you can use poppy seeds, dried onion, nuts or other seeds.
*There's a reason for raisins: They're delicious. Work some raisins into the dough before shaping them into the pretzel shape. Try making 1 or 2 raisin pretzels in the batch if you don't want a whole batch of raisin pretzels.

  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 30g icing sugar (more or less to get the right consistency)
Mix together and spread over the pretzels, or use as a pretzel dip.