Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 2009 Daring Bakers' Challenge-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.
When I read this challenge my mind went to overdrive trying to come up with complementary flavors for the cake and the ice cream. But after I had the flavors in mind, it suddenly dawned on me that the real challenge for me this month is making the ice cream without an ice cream maker! Thankfully the hosts and the other DBs included links to browse for people like me who would be making the ice cream manually.
I have done Nick Malgieri's flourless cake which I also blogged about so I wasn't too worried about the cake, however, I wanted it to have that something "extra"--I thought of mint but then I've always combined those two flavors. And then all of a sudden I looked at my spice shelf and the bottle of cayenne pepper winked at me (I swear, it did!) Voila! I had my flavor!! For the ice cream, I wanted it to be a palate cleanser so I chose Basil, my favorite herb.

Making ice cream manually is so rewarding, I am so thankful that I was able to dig up my ancient handheld mixer which I used on the ice cream every 2 hours. The final product was very smooth and the mouth feel was excellent, thanks to this challenge, I will be experimenting with more ice cream flavors from now on...

The cake was very dense and moist, it did not disappoint me. The kitchen smelled wonderful during and after baking it. The cayenne pepper combined beautifully with the rich chocolate flavor (I used Dark Sweet chocolate).

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 or 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 (or substitute with vanilla extract)
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)

Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

* 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper was added to the melted chocolate and butter before adding the eggyolks for the cake
**I used Dharm's Ice Cream recipe infusing the chopped fresh basil leaves in the fresh milk
***I also made strawberry coulis as accent on my plate, using a brush to spread it and covered my cake with chocolate icing

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Very Good News!

I'm sort of laying low nowadays, my brother went galivanting in Dubai taking the faithful point and shoot camera that I use for my food shots. But wonders of all wonders, I opened my email this afternoon and ta-dah!!! I got an email notification that my site was added to !!! I submitted an application a week ago and almost forgot about it. In case you were wondering what this site is, please check it out--I found out about it from one of my favorite blogs
Thanks Alltop!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another Sweet Sixteen

February is a busy month for our household. On the first of this month, my baby sister celebrated her 16 th birthday, on the 7th-it was the 17th birthday of a sweet girl who is more like a sister than a family friend, today (which also happens to be Valentine's Day) is the 16th birthday of girl whom I consider to be my adopted little sister, and tomorrow (whew!) is my Dad's birthday! But that's another story...
I made red velvet cupcakes for C, today's birthday celebrant. I was thinking of frosting it with chocolate but at the last minute opted for the usual cream cheese frosting, I just beat 1 box of cream cheese with 1/4 cup of softened butter and 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar. I packed 16 pieces in a box and sent it off.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

15 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons
baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened
cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
13 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring
1 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or apple cider can both work)
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 cup water
For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.
In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally, and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough.
Line a 16-cup cupcake pan with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners and bake at 350
degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yearning for Something Very Sweet

I heart Saturdays, not just because it's kick-off-your-shoes day but also because of the Salcedo Weekend Market which opens just on Saturdays at the Salcedo Village Park in Makati City. There you can find all sorts of tempting things laid out for all to salivate over and if the craving is too great, give in and fork over your hard earned cash in exchange for these goodies.
I have to confess I don't have much of a sweet tooth but when I do get an intense craving for sweets, one of the few things that can satisfy it is this melt-in-your-mouth butter cake. It looks and tastes so yummy. I gobble it all up and later on pay for it on the treadmill. But hey, it is worth it!

And the other one of course is this stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth Brazo de Mercedes. It tastes so good, I can finish two giant slices in one sitting. And what do you know, tonight, I am craving so bad, I just might brave the traffic and go all the way to the Salcedo Market!

Pinakbet and Prawns

Our family had a quick getaway early this week. We chose a fairly new resort in the south of Manila It was a very long drive because of roadside renovations along the SLEX or South Luzon Expressway but in the end it was all worth it. The resort was as breath-taking as the pictures on their website. And the food from the Menu was surprisingly good.
Here is another version of Pinakbet or Philippine-style Ratatouille. Instead of just pork crackling and shrimps, fried crispy fish was added to make it tastier. The usual vegetables, squash, string beans, okra and bitter gourd was still used.

We also ordered Prawns in Crabfat--doesn't sound so good but tastes divine! The Prawns were butterflied and then drizzled with sauteed crabfat and served with some vegetables which I didn't touch. But over all, our family enjoyed the time there and the food was very reasonably priced.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Buko Salad

Buko (young coconut) is readily available in the Philippines all year long. Filipino cooks use it to make not only desserts but even on savory dishes like Pancit Buko where instead of using noodles, buko strips are sauteed with meat, sometimes shrimp and vegetables like cabbage, carrots, peppers and seasoned with soy sauce and other condiments. There's also another chicken dish called Binakol, a chicken and coconut soup. But here at home, we use buko to make a sweet dessert salad, a family favorite that everyone always has a second serving of.
Nata de Coco
Gelatine (made from unflavored gelatine)
Buko strips
All-purpose Cream
Condensed Milk
Combine all ingredients and chill until cold (we chill it overnight)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cracked Cookies aka Crinkles

Tomorrow is going to be a very special day for our whole family because we are going to the beach! We've been going on family outings to the beach for a while now and it's always expected of me to bring cookies. I think that for almost 3 years I've been making chocolate chip cookies, this time I decided to bake cracked cookies aka crinkles--I lost my original recipe but found one on and I'm hoping they live up to the testimonials. I'm stil thinking if I should bake additional chocolate chip cookies just in case these get wiped out which almost always happens.


Cocoa Powder 1cup

Refined Sugar 2 cups

Vegetable Oil (I used canola) 1/2 cup

Eggs 4 pieces

Vanilla Extract 2 teaspoons

All-purpose flour 2 cups

Baking Powder 2 teaspoons

Salt 1/2 teaspoon

Confectioners' Sugar 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit. Line cookie sheets with wax paper.

In the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer, combine refined sugar, cocoa powder and vegetable oil. Beat with the paddle attachment. Add eggs one at a time until well incorporated and stir in vanilla extract. Combine flour, salt and baking powder add this to egg and sugar mixture and beat until the mixture is smooth. Chill for at least one hour.

Using two teaspoons, scoop out cookie dough and form into rounds, roll in confectioner's sugar and before placing on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes and cool on rack. Store in air tight containers.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Filipino Style Pesto

There was a surplus of Basil leaves at home today, hhhmmm...what to do?? Basil--oh yeah, pesto! I read on one of the blogs I follow that her Italian grandmother made pesto the old-fashioned way using a mortar and pestle which I've always wanted to try. Wonders of all wonders, my ancient mortar and pestle was still there--so off to work I went. Basil is traditionally made with pine nuts, which I didn't have at home so I substituted it with garlicky fried peanuts instead. There was also no parmesan cheese but plenty of Queso de Bola (Edam Cheese). I crushed 4 cloves of garlic (I heart garlic!), added a handful of washed and dried Basil leaves, pounded the mixture until the basil and garlic were fragrant and mashed. I spooned out some queso de bola and flaked tuyo (dried salted fish usually fried and eaten for breakfast) and poured about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Making pesto the old-fashioned way took triple the time it takes to use the food processor but the taste is unbelievably superior too! Yummy!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hitting Two Birds with One Stone--Sisig and Binaggoongan

January was supposed to be the month that I will repent from all my holiday eating sinfulness, but alas--my resistance crumbled at the thought of making sisig from real pig's head. I sent someone to buy one whole pig's head from the wet market for a surprisingly low price. The butcher made my job easier by cutting the meat off the head, hooray for butchers!
There was too much meat to make sisig, so I halved the meat and set aside the other half for binaggoongan. Sisig according to wikipedia is a dish made from parts of pig's head and usually seasoned with chili peppers and calamansi (which is used like lime). It's thrice-cooked meaning it goes through three cooking methods. The first method it goes through is boiling in water, pineapple juice (for softening), garlic cloves, peppercorns, dried bayleaves and salt. This is done for an hour until until meat is tender. After drying the meat, it's grilled until the skin is crispy. The meat is minced into very small cubes and marinated in calamansi, soy sauce, white vinegar, bird's eye chili and finely minced onion. The third and final step is to heat up the sizzling plate over high heat and then the marinated meat is fried and served very hot. Some cooks add egg, mayonnaise or ox brains but I opted to keep mine simple.
For the other half, after boiling the meat for one hour, the meat is set aside, dried and cooled. The meat is then deep-fried, drained and cut into pieces. I sauteed minced garlic, sliced onions, sliced finger chili and a good-quality shrimp paste. When the vegetables have wilted and the shrimp paste is fragrant, I added the meat and a little water. The mixture is simmered for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Birthday Cake Number Two

This is how I decorated the second smaller cake for my baby sister. I split the chiffon cake into two layers, sandwiched sweetened whipped cream in the middle, coated it with chocolate fudge and then enrobed the whole cake with stabilized whipped cream (which I got an excellent recipe) and decorated it with the remaining strawberries from the first cake. This stabilized whipped cream holds very well in warm and humid weather (especially here in Manila) because of the addition of gelatin. For best results, chill the bowl and the whip attachment for 15 minutes before using.
She's going to bring this tonight for her friends--oh to be sweet sixteen again!
Unflavored gelatin 1 teaspoon
Water, cold 1/4 cup
All-purpose cream, chilled 1 box (250 ml)
Refined sugar 1 tablespoon
Dissolve gelatin in water, wait for it to become spongy (around 5 minutes), microwave for 30 seconds on high, stir and set aside to cool. Whip cream and sugar with whip attachment of the Kitchenaid mixer and slowly add cooled gelatin to mixture. Whip until firm and frost cake.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

Happy birthday to my baby sister who turns sweet 16 today...time does fly very fast *sigh*. One minute she's a baby and the next she's even taller than me! She loves anything chocolate so I thought of making her a rich chocolate cake but I wanted to make it extra-special being her 16th birthday and also because it's february (the season of love *wink*wink*). So I looked for a pinkish or reddish cake and lo and behold in searching for a strawberry mousse cake, I found out that the Daring Bakers made a Strawberry Mirroir way back in 2007. I had a clear idea of what I wanted, which was basically chiffon and strawberry mousse. The only thing I copied from the DB challenge was the mirror. Mine didn't come out as shiny as the others but I was very happy because the birthday celebrant was raving about her pretty cake.
cake flour 250 grams
granulated sugar 250 grams
salt 5 grams
baking powder 12.5 grams
vegetable oil 125 grams
egg yolks 6 pieces
water 187.5 ml
vanilla 6 ml
egg whites 8 pieces
granulated sugar 125 grams
cream of tartar 2.5 grams

Sift cake flour in a bowl, add sugar, salt and baking powder. Make a well in the center and add vegetable oil, egg yolks, water and vanilla. Whisk until all ingredients are well-combined and no lumps remain. Set aside.
Using the whip attachment of a Kitchenaid mixer, whip egg whites on medium speed until frothy add cream of tartar continue mixing. Add sugar a little at a time and adjust speed to high. Whip until firm peaks, do not overbeat. Fold in egg whites into flour-egg mixture being careful not to deflate the foam. Transfer to 9" inch cake pan (bottom greased and waxed, leave sides --do not grease) Bake in a preheated 350 degrees Farenheit oven for 60 minutes. Do not open oven door. When done, invert pan on a cooling rack until cold. Remove from pan and decorate as desired
** this recipe produced (1) 9-inch cake and (1) 6-inch cake
unflavored gelatine 10 grams
water, cold 1/4 cup
all-purpose cream, chilled 330 grams
refined sugar 1/4 cup
strawberries, fresh 300 grams
refined sugar 2 tablespoons
water 2 tablespoons
Sprinkle gelatin in water, leave to bloom then melt in microwave for 30 seconds, set aside until slightly cooled. With the whip attachment of the Kitchenaid mixer, whip cream and 1/4 cup sugar until cream doubles in size, do not overbeat. Combine strawberries, remaining sugar and water in blender and process until strawberry is pureed. Add to cream and continue whipping until well incorporated. Slowly add gelatin to mixture while mixer is running.
To assemble:
Slice cooled cake into 2 layers. Lay on cake plate and wrap with acetate (clear plastic) to make mold for the cake, you can cut 2 sheets of acetate into half crosswise and connect lengthwise with tape to create a clear mold around the cake base. Pour in mousse, chill for 10 minutes, place second cake layer and pour in remaining mousse. Spread evenly with a small offset spatula. Chill for 8 hours or until set. Pour in strawberry mirror mixture and chill until set. Decorate top as desired.
Strawberry Mirror (modified from the Daring Bakers)
2 TBSP water
1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
Few drops of red food coloring
Strawberry Juice
250 grams strawberries
37 grams sugar
37 ml water
1.Prepare strawberry juice.
2.Place water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.
3.Measure 1 ½ cups Strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just beings to thicken(do not let jell); remove from ice water.
4.When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cake. Refrigerate until set.Strawberry JuiceWash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop. Place strawberries in saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly 10 minutes. Pour juice and pulp through damp jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander and drain into a bowl for 15 minutes(Do not press down on fruit).