My Fudgy Valentine-2/28/09

even though i am a creature of comfort, i enjoy challenges too.  it seems that i get bored easily.  this combination generally has me multitasking to get through things as quickly as possible so i can move onto new things.  one of the things i find myself doing is following food/baking blogs to see what people are up to in the culinary world.  this habit ultimately led me to the daring bakers, a baking forum that holds a monthly baking challenge.  i just had to join.  what better way to entertain myself, stave off the boredom and do something i enjoy.  of course, my family gets the benefit of a freshly baked dessert.  when the challenge for february was announced, it would be my first to participate in; i was off and running to get started.

The February 2009 Challenge is hosted by Wendy 
of WMPE‘s blog and Dharm of Dad~Baker&Chef.  
We havechosen 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 month’s recipe comes from the book, Chef Wan’s
Sweet Treats and it is available on amazon, follow the link above to see it.
since the theme was valentine’s day, darry and i decided to make a nice valentine’s day dinner for the girls and their dates; a fancy dinner for 6 at chez huntsman.  on the menu was a lovely roasted beef tenderloin, mushroom sauce, scalloped potatoes and green beans almondine.  very classic, very simple and very tasty!  the night before, i baked off the cakes, made the sauce and froze the ice cream.  
before i could do anything, i had to decide on a chocolate to use in the flourless chocolate valentino cake.  if you’ve shopped for chocolate recently then you know that it can be a challenge to choose from the many types available.  i looked at so many.  some were flavored with caramel, nuts, coffee or chili.  others had cacao contents of 65-80% making them dark and bitter.  then there was white and milk chocolates.  oh, the choices…keep in mind, i haven’t gone anywhere but the local grocery store, never mind the internet where i could have found so much more.  in the end, i made a trip to an international grocery store in search of ibarra, a mexican chocolate.  they did not have it so i chose corona, a columbian chocolate that is flavored with cinnamon and cloves.  if you’ve ever seen ibarra, then you are familiar with the grainy-sugary consistency of the chocolate.  corona is much the same but it does not have the almonds that ibarra has.  in the end, the chocolate gave the cake a mild flavor, not too dark and nicely fudgy with a slightly spicy finish.  if i ever use this recipe again, i will add sugar to the egg whites to stabilize them and allow them to fold in to the batter more smoothly.  for visual impact, i baked the batter in individual hearts and using the instant read thermometer did not help.  next time, i will go by feel instead-25 years of experience must be good for something.  
all of the ingredients measured out on the counter, ready to be made into little heart shaped cakes.
for the ice cream, i chose to make a coconut milk ice cream.  it was simple to put together and it was a delicious match for the chocolate.  to complete the dish, i made a syrup from both sweet and sour cherries with a little sugar and cinnamon to punch up the flavors.  cherries and cinnamon compliment each other very nicely and if you combine that with chocolate and coconut-WOW!!! for visual purposes, i added a little purchased caramel sauce so i could do some sauce painting.  
we ate well; from start to finish, all was savored and enjoyed.  at the end of the meal, there was a large stack of dirty plates but not many left overs.  it was fun to use my training to entertain the family. even better was having it so well received.  so bring on the next challenge, i’m ready for just about anything.  look for my next culinary adventure on march 14, when i post my first challenge with the other forum i joined-you want pies with that.

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