Saturday, February 28, 2009


The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. They chose 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.

I chose to make strawberry ice cream. I bought some beautiful strawberries from our local farmers market and they were getting very ripe and needed to be used fast.
I followed Emily Luchetti's strawberry ice cream recipe from her book A Passion for Ice Cream. It is good but I had a heavy hand on the salt so next time I will use a small pinch instead of a large pinch as her recipe instructs.

The pansies in the picture are from my garden. Now that I am not working 14 hours a day at the Country Club I have time to garden and enjoy my beautiful flowers. Life is beautiful!!

The Valentino cake is very easy to make and only has 3 ingredients. It is a flourless chocolate cake without the addition of sugar. So the cake is only as sweet as the chocolate you use. I used Callebeaut 811 which is about 55% cocoa liquor.

Here are the recipes:

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.
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.

Adapted from A Passion For Ice Cream by: Emily Luchetti

1 Pint Fresh Strawberries (hulled & quartered)
6 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
Pinch of Kosher Salt
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/8 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

In a medium saucepan cook the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice & salt over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until it reaches a jam like consistency. Stir often. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before covering and putting in the refrigerator. Chill overnight.

In a medium saucepan bring the cream, milk, sugar, & salt to a simmer. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and chill over an ice bath. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to make the ice cream, stir the strawberry mixture into the cream, milk mixture and churn in an ice cream machine for 20 minutes or follow manufacturer's instructions.

Place the ice cream in a freeze safe container and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Friday, February 13, 2009


This was made for a client's party but would also make an excellent Valentine's Dessert. It's a Black Forest Cake with kirsh whipped cream and black cherries, covered with ganache and chocolate shavings. I tempered some chocolate to make the fillagree hearts.
I made a chocolate cocoa cake that stays very moist even right out of the refrigerator. I stabilized with gelatin and spiked the whipped cream with kirsh and used Comstock canned cherries. I also put some kirsh in a little simple syrup to lightly moisten the cake. To make the chocolate shavings I took a slab of chocolate and ran my potato peeler over it to shave the chocolate off the slab.
1 1/2 Pounds Semi Sweet Chocolate
24 Ounces Heavy Cream
Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Stir with a whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. Cover and leave at room temperature. Make this one day in advance so it sets up to an icing consistency.
Makes 2 9" round cakes.
15 ½ Ounces Granulated Sugar
9 Ounces All Purpose Flour
3 ¾ Ounces Cocoa Powder (sift after measuring)
1 ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 ½ Teaspoon Salt
2 Large Eggs (room temperature)
1 Cup Whole Milk
½ Cup Canola Oil
2 ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
7 Liquid Ounces Boiling Water
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and line with parchment 2 - 9" round cake pans.
2. This should be done by hand. No mixer necessary. When making X2 or X4 use a mixer.
3. Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Place all wet ingredients except water into another bowl and mix together.
5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
6. Boil water in microwave, add and stir to combine.
7. Pour into prepared pans.
8. Bake 30 to 40 minutes.
1/8 Ounce (1/2 packet) Gelatin Powder
3/4 Ounce Kirsch
12 Ounces Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
Seeds of 1/4 Vanilla Bean
Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the kirsch. Let it bloom for about 5 minutes then soften it in the microwave 10 - 15 seconds, just until it melts.
Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla to semi stiff peaks.
With the whip still whipping pour in the gelatin and continue to whip to stiff peak.
Use immediately.
Split and soak the cake layers slightly with simple syrup flavored to taste with kirsh.
Put the canned cherries with a little of the glaze on the cake layers.
Put whipped cream directly on top of the cherries and spread to the outside of the cake.
Stack the cake and refrigerate to set the whipped cream.
Cover the cake with ganache.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Here is a picture of one of the last birthday cakes I made at the country club. I have done a birthday cake for this particular member each year. This year she gave me the topper and I matched the ruffles on the dress and the color scheme. The flavor of the cake was carrot with cream cheese filling.
I feel sad to leave this chapter of my life behind but I am sure better things are ahead for me.