Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Oreo Ice Cream -- Daring Bakers

Time for the February Daring Bakers Challenge! 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 was such a neat recipe to try, I have never made a flourless cake before and was prepared not to like the end result, but in the end I really enjoyed it! The cake was so delicate and light, it almost melted in your mouth even though it looked like a dense brownie type cake, looks can be deceiving! I halved the recipe and made six mini heart cakes in a silicone pan.

I made Oreo Ice Cream to serve the cakes with, what a fun childhood inspired treat. I am usually one to try to make everything homemade, at least once. We rarely buy things that I can make at home (certain pastas, breads, cookies, soups, etc.) but one thing I cannot make at home is an Oreo cookie, I know there are some recipes out there to make your own, but I think Oreos are a special treat best left to the mass manufacturers.

Chocolate Valentino (flourless chocolate cake)

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.
I slightly modified one of the suggested ice cream recipes for this month;

Wendy's Ice Cream -- Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe

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.

Changes I made were to use two cups of cream and one cup of skim milk, powdered sugar, and to add in 10 chopped double stuff oreos. I really liked the suggestion of mixing the cream sugar mixture in a pitcher before pouring into the ice cream maker. It made getting the ice cream mixture into the ice cream maker extra easy!
Thank you to Wendy and Dharm for hosting this challenge :)

Cashew Veggie Stir Fry and Mushroom Egg Rolls -- Tyler Florence Fridays

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays I made Tyler's Wild Mushroom Spring Rolls but changed the wrapper and made them Egg Rolls. I absolutely love Spring Rolls but they do not sell the wrappers around here, and trust me, I've looked. To go along with the Egg Rolls I made a quick Cashew Veggie Stir Fry served over jasmine rice. Everything went together nicely and was a delicious meal.

Wild Mushroom Spring Rolls (or Egg Rolls) with Chinese Mustard Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, crimini, oyster, shiitake)
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1 carrot, grated
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 ounces bean thread noodles, blanched and chopped
1/2 cup bean sprouts
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 package spring roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten
Vegetable oil, for frying

Mustard Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar

Heat oil in a skillet or wok over high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for another minute.

Add the cabbage and carrot and cook until the cabbage starts to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the hoisin and oyster sauces (I subbed tamari for oyster); toss to coat the mixture.

Remove from the heat and mix in the noodles, sprouts, and cilantro; season to taste with salt and pepper.

The filling should be moist but not wet. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Lay a spring roll wrapper on a flat surface on an angle so it looks like a diamond.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling near the bottom corner of the wrapper and fold up to enclose the filling. Fold in the 2 sides. Paint the top seam of the wrapper with beaten egg. Continue rolling up to form a tight cylinder.

Pour about 1-inch of oil in a skillet or wok and heat to 350 degrees F. (easier to deep fry if you have that option)Fry the spring rolls, turning to cook all sides, until browned, about 2 minutes.

Drain on paper towels and keep warm. Serve with Mustard Dipping Sauce. For the Mustard Sauce: Mix all ingredients together and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Here is my quick and easy recipe for Cashew Veggie Stir Fry...

2 small cartons of white button mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced
4 small celery stalks, thinly sliced
5 small carrots, thinly sliced
1 small can or tub of bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
1 small frozen package of sugar snap peas
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch 'slurried' into 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup cashews
You could also add garlic, ginger, peppers, etc. to your liking.

In large wok or skillet over medium high heat coated with a little oil or cooking spray saute all veggies except frozen sugar snap peas for two minutes stirring occasionally.

Stir in vegetable broth and tamari/soy sauce and frozen sugar snap peas and cover and simmer over medium high heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally. While that is simmering, prepare your water cornstarch mixture. Turn heat down to medium low and quickly stir in the cornstarch water mixture and let the sauce thicken while stirring for about 45 seconds or so.

Turn off heat, stir in cashews, and serve over rice (or Asian style chow mein or lo mein noodles).

I love my 10 cup fujitronic rice cooker! It's not the fancy fuzzy logic kind but it does a great job.

That is such an easy basic stir fry livened up with the cashews. Don't cashews just make any meal special? I ended up making this because whenever we ate out at a Chinese restaurant for dinner someone would order Cashew Chicken and the cashew veggie sauce would look delicious, so I decided to try to create something with just cashews and veggies in sauce at home. I always have so much fun trying to do restaurant copycat recipes.

Results and Changes: For Tyler's Spring Rolls other than changing the wrappers from spring roll to egg roll, I also didn't have the bean sprouts (which I'm sure would have been wonderful) or the oyster sauce (I know they have vegetarian oyster sauce, usually mushroom based, but I am out) I had so much fun using the bean threads (aka cellophane or glass noodles) I had purchased a pack a while ago and they sat in the pantry just waiting for the perfect recipe to try them in. Tyler's recipe only uses about 1/3 of the pack so be on the look out for some more glass noodle recipes coming up :) I love vegetable spring rolls with bean threads at restaurants so this was nice to try at home. The flavor was great and the garlic and ginger really stood out. The filling could almost be a meal on it's own, it was delicious!

If I am able to locate some spring roll wrappers you can bet I'll be making these again, and I will be on the lookout for some Chinese Wood Ear (black) mushrooms, which would be perfect in these, you can usually find them dehydrated at Asian markets then you soak them and thinly slice them. My youngest two sweeties also loved these which was a plus, and I had my mom over for dinner who also gave a positive review of the egg rolls and stir-fry.

I had so much fun with these and can't wait to see what everyone else came up with for this week's edition of Tyler Florence Fridays :)

Dr. Seuss is Coming

We will be celebrating Dr. Seuss next week. If your child would like to bring in their favorite Dr. Seuss book to school next week they can. Just please make sure your child's name is in the book so they don't get mixed up and sent home with the wrong child. There is a great website that has stories, games for you play with your child.


Humpty Dumpty

We acted out Humpty Dumpty today. It was fun to see the kids falling off the wall and trying to put Humpty back together again.

Meringues Chantilly -- Barefoot Bloggers

This was such a fun recipe to try for Barefoot Bloggers, thanks to BMK of Reservations Not Required who picked Ina Garten's Meringues Chantilly for us to make this week!

Meringues Chantilly

6 extra - large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whipped Cream with Orange Liqueur, recipe follows
Stewed berries, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small glass and a pencil, draw 6 (3 1/2-inch) circles on each piece of paper. Turn the paper face-down on the baking sheets.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a large pinch of salt on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar and raise the speed to high until the egg whites form very stiff peaks.

Whisk in the vanilla. Carefully fold the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar into the meringue. With a large star - shaped pastry tip, pipe a disc of meringue inside each circle.

Pipe another layer around the edge to form the sides of the shells.

Bake for 2 hours, or until the meringues are dry and crisp but not browned. Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to sit in the oven for 4 hours or overnight.

Spread some of the sauce from the stewed berries on each plate. Place a meringue on top and fill with whipped cream. Top with berries and serve.

Whipped Cream with Orange Liqueur:
2 cups (1 pint) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar, vanilla and orange liqueur and continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Don't over beat, or you'll end up with butter!

Stewed berries:
1 half-pint
fresh blueberries
3 half-pints fresh raspberries, divided
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoons framboise (raspberry brandy)

Combine the blueberries, one-half pint of raspberries, 1/3 cup water, the sugar and zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook uncovered over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. The juice will become a syrup and the berries will be slightly cooked. Off the heat, stir in the remaining raspberries and the framboise. Set aside.


Results and Changes: Wow, these were wonderful! I was surprised how much I enjoyed them! I halved the recipe, and used a smaller star tip to pipe the meringue nests. This was so much fun! I used just strawberries in the berry sauce, which worked out fine taste wise, but they cooked down a little too much so it's not as pretty as it should be. I was nervous about so many things with this recipe, baking on the exopat, the piping, getting the proper peaks in my egg whites. Amazingly it all turned out and I have these beautiful meringue nests that reminded me of Seafoam Candy from my childhood that I haven't had in ages. :) I think that since I used the wrong size tip I should have baked these only 1 hour 45 minutes instead of two hours because of the thinner piping, the meringues were so pretty all through while I was peeking through the oven window and just before the timer went off at two hours they browned a little. Oh-well. You can see that in the before and after photos below.


I was so happy to give this recipe a try, and even though I at first thought it was a little intimidating, in the end this turned out to be pretty easy and an impressive dessert :)

Itsy Bitsy Spider

We had fun singing the nursery rhyme "itsy bitsy spider".

Caramel Crunch Bars -- Tuesdays with Dorie

This week for Tuesdays with Dorie we made Caramel Crunch Bars, a super easy sweet treat! These were a big hit at our house, especially with my husband who loves crispy treats -- he wants all the edges, while I like the middle pieces :)

I made a few changes to the recipe, instead of 1 teaspoon espresso powder I used 1 teaspoon chocolate malted milk powder, and also left the 3 ounces of chopped chocolate out of the base. I figured the chocolate on top would be plenty... for the top chocolate I used semisweet morsels which melted fine. Everything came together easily and for me the baking times and temperatures were right on. These reminded me of a Skor Bar (which I love) with a shortbread cookie base.

I would make these again for sure as a quick party treat or to help fill up a cookie tray. Thank you so much to Whitney of What’s left on the table? who picked these easy delicious cookie bars. These were a fun drama free pick for TWD -- I do have to apologize for the not so great pictures of these though -- I was a procrastinator and waited until the last minute (Monday night) to make these, so no fancy photos with natural light, sorry!

See you next week TWD friends, thanks for visiting :)

Eating curds & whey

Today we learned the nursery rhyme, "Little Miss Muffett". In the nursery rhyme she eats curds and whey. The kids tried some curds (cottage cheese) and whey (pineapples). Surprisingly most of the children liked it. The final count was 9 liked it with 5 not liking it.

Little Miss Muffett

Little Miss Muffett sat on a tuffett,

eating her curds & whey.

Along came a spider &

sat down beside her,

scaring Miss Muffett away.