For the Love of Chocolate: Daring Bakers February 2009

Remember back when I joined Iron Cupcake and said I wanted a challenge? Well, that wasn’t enough for me. I had to go all out – I am now a Daring Baker. It took me a while to get my confidence up, and I’m glad I waited until AFTER those terrifying French Yule Logs in December, but I finally went for it. And I think I got very lucky that my first challenge was such a relatively easy one.

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.

Easy as the recipe was, I actually had to make the cakes twice. The first time, I stepped away from the mixer for a minute as the whites were whipping and they ended up too dry. With all the frostings, meringues and other stuff I make regularly, the whites always have something in with them, so I forgot how quickly just plain egg whites would whip up. I KNEW they were overwhipped, but I still tried to fold them in and bake the cakes anyway. That obviously didn’t work and I had to drive half an hour each way to get more chocolate and eggs in the middle of the night. Because I’m nuts. Luckily, the second batch turned out perfectly and I was finally able to go to bed.

The original recipe for this cake (which really tastes more like candy to me, like fudge or a really rich candy bar) calls for it to be baked in a heart-shaped pan. I didn’t have one of those, but I did have a couple of 4″ springform pans and some cute shallow oblong ramekins, so I used those. I ended up with two round cakes and three smaller oblong ones. The bigger ones sunk perfectly, just like they were meant to.

Ooh, what's THAT on top?
Ooh, what's THAT on top?

The smaller ones obviously were much too shallow to sink, but turned out just as rich and delicious.

The cream was delicious, but it doesn't look very elegant here. Better, more ridiculous picture coming up...
The cream was DIVINE, but it doesn't look very elegant here. Better, more ridiculous picture coming up...

When I found out what we were going to be making, I immediately knew I’d have to make two different things to go along with it. Somehow I decided that the perfect thing to go with this dessert (which I had never tasted before, let alone made) would be a lavender whipped cream. Sweet, light and floral, just the thing to cut the chocolatey richness. However, that kind of thing wouldn’t really appeal to Z. So I had to do something else.

Did You Know: whipping cream + sugar + flavor = Chantilly Cream...doesn't that sound nicer?
Did You Know: whipping cream + sugar + flavor = Chantilly Cream...doesn't that sound nicer?

I originally wasn’t going to make the ice cream, because I (wrongly) assumed it would be hard to do without any sort of ice cream maker, and also because IT’S FEBRUARY. Not peak ice cream season where I live. Eventually, though, I made it anyway, because I had egg yolks and heavy cream sitting in the fridge from the creme brulee that never got made (you wouldn’t think it would be this hard to find butane for a torch). I could have made Wendy’s ice cream, which was much simpler than Dharm’s classic custard-based one, but besides the super-rich ingredients I already had sitting around, I also had vanilla beans. I did not have vanilla extract, as called for in Wendy’s recipe. This is a problem only Daring Bakers (or people who are just as weird as I am) have, I’m sure.

Making the ice cream was, as with many homemade goodies, much easier than you’d think. The custard alone was delicious! The only problem I ran into was using entirely the wrong sort of container to freeze my ice cream in. I didn’t have a big enough plastic one free, so I used Pyrex glass. Which conducts cold a lot better to the ice cream, necessitating a 10 minute thaw on the counter before the ice cream is even remotely scoopable. Lesson learned; ice cream still tasty anyway.

You may be wondering what that orange stuff is.
You may be wondering what that orange stuff is.

Plain cake and ice cream is all right, but I thought it needed something more. Luckily, I had it all figured out: You may remember my slightly overcooked but still delicious marmalade. When I mentioned that to the creator of the recipe, she suggested it might be good on ice cream due to its slight caramel flavor. That sounded perfect – just the thing to brighten up what was otherwise a very heavy, rich dessert.

The only thing here that’s really original is the Lavender Chantilly Cream. Heh…Chantilly. What a cute word! Lavender Chantilly sounds like a great name for a frilly-but-saucy lady who wears great hats, maybe in the early 1900s. Or an adorable flapper girl.

This plating is merely for decorative purposes. I'm not quite nutty enough to eat whole dried lavender like that.
This plating is merely for decorative purposes. I'm not quite nutty enough to eat whole dried lavender like that.

I would have liked to have used a nicer tip to do the piping on that whipped cream, but I took that picture a couple days ago and only got my (giant!) set of new Ateco tips today (and they are fascinating). So, I did the best I could.

Lavender Chantilly Cream

...Also the cake is kind of frozen. What? The sun was going down and I needed pictures!
...Also the cake is kind of frozen. What? The sun was going down, the cream was separating and I needed pictures!

1 cup whipping cream

2 Tbsp extra fine (not powdered) sugar, or granulated sugar pulsed in food processor or ground roughly with mortar & pestle (guess which I had to do)

2 Tbsp Monin lavender syrup

Place cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, or use a handheld mixer. Whip the cream on high until soft peaks form, add the sugar and lavender syrup, then whip until stiff peaks form. Dollop onto cake with spoons or use a pastry bag to pipe.

And here is the recipe for the cake and ice cream. If you really like chocolate, and I mean REALLY like chocolate, I definitely recommend making it. It’s pretty easy and very tasty, just make sure you use good chocolate (I used Ghirardelli which in the scope of all things chocolate is pretty bottom-of-the-line…I mean it’s GOOD…for grocery-store chocolate…just use a chocolate you really really like).

Mmm, pile of tiny ice cream scoops.
Mmm, pile of tiny ice cream scoops.

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.

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
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)

I think I’m going to try to get an ice cream maker for my birthday this year. It’s deceptively easy to make and I’d love to experiment with more flavors. Just not until the weather is warmer!


  1. wow you really had a lot of fun with this, awesome :) Welcome to Daring Bakers! This was only my second challenge myself ;) Been meaning to join Iron Cupcakes but was kinda nervous :D

  2. That’s funny – I just joined Iron Cupcake, as being a member of DB wasn’t enough for me ;)

    Great job on your first completed challenge!

  3. They look great! Welcome to the Daring Bakers – if you are the type to drive around in the middle of the night for ingredients… you’ll fit right in!
    ps, I live in Canada, but it is always ice cream season in my house. :)

  4. Lovely work and just the thought of lavender Chantilly cream is divine. I didn’t know Monin made a lavender syrup, will have to try and find it.

  5. That chantilly is just so fluffy and yummy looking! Great job on your cakes and creams. I’m impressed that you went to such great lengths to make another cake.

  6. Nice job! Welcome to the Daring Bakers. I did exactly what you did with the egg whites…turned away for a second and poof – overwhipped. I didn’t have time to do it again, but you’re lucky you did. It came out great!

  7. Hi Anna!
    Wonderful Job!
    Lavender Chantilly cream is a great great great idea…I’m curious to try it!
    Ago :-D

  8. Looks like someone had fun taking pictures :P I love to do that too! Way to go on your first DB challenge, the marmalade sounds like an interesting pairing with the chocolate… I’ll have to try it out. Keep up the great bakes!

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