Magazine Cuisine

When a Cake is not a Cupcake : a Daring Bakers Challenge

Par Littlemisscupcake

Back in my elementary school years, my mom and I lived in a small community in Florida for about 6 years. It was a great place to be a kid -- lots of warm weather and the ocean nearby; there were about a dozen of us young kids on the block and we would spend weekends and school vacations biking up and down the street and playing in each other's houses and backyards.
We had a great spacious backyard that was bordered at the edges by a dense "jungle" of trees and bushes that delineated where one property ended and the next began. It was here that some of the neighborhood kids and I built our very first secret fort. Only the "most privileged" knew exactly where it could be found or were privy to the secret password that would grant access inside. Truth be told, our fort was nothing more than a cluster of tree stumps hidden under the palm fronds, but we thought it was the coolest hideout and it was from this super secret base that we gossiped about other kids from the neighborhood, cheats to our favorite video games, and which teachers at school we thought were "neat" or "nerds."

I have always been intrigued by secret clubs and societies like the ones at Dartmouth a friend clued me in to that they have had going there since the late 1700's....Or, the Freemasons who had a lodge near my alma mater in Saratoga Springs, NY....Or, the secret clubs in Manhattan I was lucky enough to hang at once or twice -- you know the ones that have no sign and no phone have to show up with the friend of an owner or be recommended, etc. There is a dinner club here in Paris called Hidden Kitchen that I have been dying to try for a while now that is surrounded by some secrecy. Give me cloak and daggers any day and I'll be hooked.
Which brings me to the purpose of today's post which is the first time I have participated in one of the Daring Bakers' challenges. The Daring Bakers is a group made up of bakers from all corners of the world who are tasked each month to prepare a specific recipe. Before you can join you have to agree to a number of stipulations which include not talking to anyone about the monthly challenge until the reveal date (which is today) -- no blogging, no forwarding the recipe, even to another Daring Baker if contacted. The recipe is posted in the "hidden" forums of the DB website which can only be accessed via the secret password that the group's founders email around each month. It's all shrouded in secrecy. And I have done my all to keep my lips sealed this month; apart from my husband who devoured the challenge recipe in no time flat, I didn't breathe a word....
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.
February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan.

The original recipe is paired with a whipped cream though the challenge included an optional "double dare" to make your own ice cream. Since it's a short month and most of it taken up by a school holiday, I opted out of this second dare. (I don't have an ice cream maker and since we've been away on vacation, I didn't have time to try the recipe for making it without). Instead I baked my cakes in small heart-shaped pans which I then used as layers to create a 3-layer cake. One layer was filled with vanilla creme chantilly, and one with chocolate creme chantilly. I then drowned this in a pistachio and white chocolate sauce and topped with additional creme chantilly.
Here is the recipe and some tips. Enjoy! I apologize that my photos aren't the greatest but as you'll see from the last one, that didn't stop us from practically licking the plate. For more photos of this month's (and past) challenges, check out the DB's Flickr group.
- Use your favorite chocolate, and buy the best quality you can afford – the finished cake will taste exactly like the chocolate you use. If you like a sweeter cake use milk chocolate or a combination of the semisweet and milk chocolate. If you like bittersweet chocolate use that and add sweetness by mixing the semi sweet with bittersweet. If you are daring, try white chocolate.
- A higher cocoa percentage increases the bitterness of the chocolate.
-This recipe comes together very quickly with a hand mixer.
-This is a very decadent cake that will sink a little as it cools but will still hold its shape.
-Very dense and fudgy cake that tastes divine.
-The top forms a light crust kind of like a brownie.

Chocolate Valentino Cake
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used a mixture of dark -- Valrhona Guanaja -- and milk chocolate -- Valrhona Cao Grande Lait)
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. (I baked mine in smaller heart-shaped pans that were ready in about 15-20 minutes).
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.
Vanilla Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1. Place chilled cream in a medium-sized bowl, and whip with electric mixer until the cream is slightly thickened.
2. Add the sugar and vanilla. Whip until cream forms soft peaks.

Chocolate Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1. Place chilled cream in a medium-sized bowl, and whip with electric mixer until the cream is slightly thickened.
2. Add the sugar, vanilla and cocoa powder. Let sit in fridge for approximately half-hour so the cocoa powder dissolves into the mixture. Then whip until cream forms soft peaks.

Pistachio & White Chocolate Sauce
(taken from a recipe in Madame Figaro Le Chocolat)
200 grams white chocolate, broken into small pieces
20 cl heavy cream
100 grams shelled pistachios

1. Place pistachios in a sealed ziploc bag and beat with rolling pin into very small morsels.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over low heat. Add the pistachios and then the chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool about 5 minutes before serving.

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