Friday, February 27, 2009

I *Heart* Chocolate

This month, our hosts pulled out all the stops for a wonderfully decadent dessert--a flourless chocolate cake.

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.

This recipe came together very quickly, and was easy for me to put together while the Munchkin was napping. There are only three ingredients -- chocolate, eggs, and butter -- so getting top quality ingredients was key. Especially the chocolate. I've always read that Valrhona chocolate is the preferred chocolate for many pastry chefs.'s kind of pricey. However, given the prominence of the chocolate in this recipe, I decided that if there was ever a recipe that warranted the splurge, this was it. I'm glad I went for it. The chocolate was wonderfully smooth and decadent and everything chocolate should be.

Ideally, the Chocolate Valentino should be baked in a heart shaped pan, but when I poured the batter in, I realized the pan was way too big. Rather than risking a too-thin, unevenly cooked cake, I ended up using an 8" cake pan instead. It was just the right size. But, even though the heart-shaped pan didn't work out for me, I kept the valentine's theme going in my decorative elements.

In addition to the cake, Wendy and Dharm presented us with an optional (but very much encouraged) challenge -- ice cream. But even if we didn't make the ice cream, we were required to make some sort of topping (the original recipe called for the cake to be served with whipped cream). I opted not to make ice cream. An ice cream maker is on the top of my list of must-get kitchen gadgets, I don't have one yet. And while it is possible to make ice cream without a machine, I didn't really have the time to be tied to the house to regularly stir the ice cream. So I went ahead and made the whipped cream suggested with the recipe. But to mae it a little more fun, I froze some of the whipped cream in my "hugs and kisses" silicon cake mold. In addition to the frozen whipped cream, I made some raspberry sauce, some of which I also made into Xs and Os, which I served with the cake.

This cake was wonderful! The whipped cream and raspberry were perfect with it, and our dinner guests raved about it. And the frozen whipped cream was a perfect addition to my coffee.

Head on over to Wendy's or Dharm's blog for the recipe and give this a try. You won't be sorry!!