28 February 2009

Chocolate Valentino and Chubby Hubs Ice Cream

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. Although I didn't use either ice cream recipe, as we were allowed to make any kind we wanted...

Okey dokey, the official wording is out of the way, so now I can do my real write up :)

Like probably half of the Daring Baker community, I made my cake for Valentine's Day. I mean really - what could be more romantic than a dense brownie-like cake and some homemade ice cream for dessert? I ran into a bit of a snag, but I was no worse for the wear.

This cake only has 3 ingredients. Now, at first reading I thought, Piece of cake! I'll have this one finished and done in no time. True, very true, but when I actually settled in to make it, I realized that if I mess up any part of this recipe, it'll be an expensive thing to re-do (especially since I was using my precious stash of Valrhona chocolate for this). But not to be easily intimidated, I forged ahead.

Things were a little hairy right off the bat, when I freaked for a second thinking I had overheated my butter/chocolate (therefore burning the chocolate to worthlessness), but thankfully that was fine. Whew! I whipped my whites and carefully folded them in. No screwing around. I carefully poured my batters into my cake pan and mini Le Creuset heart pan (perfect for pictures, thanks Anne!). I bake, and watch that lovely rise and slight fall of the cake, the characteristic dimpling of the top. I pulled the cakes out and set them too cool. Ten minutes later, faithful to the recipe, I picked up the round cake pan to unmold my cake.

Um. Well, here's where I had a problem: I went to gracefully (but quickly) flip it onto the cooling rack to finish cooling. Only I kinda moved too quick, and my pregnant butter-fingers started to lose grip on the pan. I fumbled with it, flipped it (very impressively, I might add) in the air, and then popped it with my palm when I went to desperately grasp it. Well, that was it. Up! it went and then Down! it landed. With a splat. Chocolate Valentino, shredded and smooshed and not looking too good:


It wasn't a total loss - I just let the darn thing cool in the state you see above, then chunked up the surviving parts to make a lovely ice cream parfait for our dinners. The Le Creuset heart, fortunately, was just fine so I used that the next morning to take pictures.

So: on to the cake. If you try this, keep in mind that there is no messing around with this Valentino recipe! Use good chocolate, as the cake will taste exactly like the chocolate you use. It gets a bit expensive (as you need to use a pound of chocolate), but that won't stop me from making this again. The cake ends up very dense, reminiscent of a brownie. Oooooh, so good.

We were asked to make homemade ice cream to accompany the cake. Initially I was going to make something plain, as I didn't want to overtake the glorious cake. Then at the last minute I changed my mind, when I thought about just how good Chubby Hubby is (and how much I didn't want to buy ice cream when I needed to also make ice cream...). I came up with my own version thanks in part to this recipe, and I must say: it tastes remarkably like the original. Awesome.

For those not in the know: Chubby Hubby is only the BEST flavor ever made by Ben & Jerry's. It's a malted vanilla ice cream with chunks of chocolate-covered, peanut-butter-filled pretzel nubs, and ribbons of peanut butter and fudge. It is salty and sweet and creamy and crunchy and just all-around perfect. Go buy a pint and see for yourself, or make my version below...

Chocolate Valentino
(from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan)

16 oz. of roughly chopped chocolate (I used half Ghirardelli milk chocolate, half Valrhona bittersweet)
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
5 large eggs, separated

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.

While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

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).

With the same beater beat the egg yolks together. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

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.

Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375 F. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140 F. 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.

Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold.

(Not Actually) Chubby Hubs Ice Cream
(my shameless adaption of B&J's Chubby Hubby, and no my Hubs is not actually chubby)

2 c. half and half (or 1 c. heavy cream + 1 c. whole milk)
4 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar, divided
A dash of salt
1 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. malt powder
1/2 recipe of Peanut Butter Swirl (follows)
Hot fudge (I just used jarred)
1 c. chocolate-covered, peanut-butter filled pretzel nuggets (World Market has them!)

Whisk yolks and 1/4 c. sugar until ribbon-like in a medium bowl.

Heat half and half and 1/4 c. sugar and the salt over medium heat until barely boiling, stirring constantly. Add the half and half mixture to the egg yolk mixture, slowly so as not to curdle the eggs, and return everything to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-low heat and cook for about 10 minutes or so or until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (you're going to have to stir it the entire time and probably will be using a wooden spoon, so at some point, take the spoon out, run your finger down the back and if the track stays 'clear', the mixture is done).

Turn off the heat, and add the heavy cream to cool the mix and then strain into the medium bowl.

Put the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice water and stir in order to speed up the cooling process, whisk in the malt and vanilla, and then chill in the refrigerator overnight to make the following day.

Mix the malted custard in your ice cream maker as directed. Once the ice cream has finished churning (after 20-40 minutes): place in your freezable container. Add a few blobs of Peanut Butter Swirl and hot fudge, and fold a few times into the soft ice cream mixure. Add the pretzels, and fold 2-3 more times to fully incorporate. Freeze for at least a few hours before serving.

Peanut Butter Swirl

1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
3-4 Tbsp. heavy cream, to thin

Whip peanut butter until fluffy. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk. Once incorporated, use the heavy cream to thin the mixure a bit.

25 February 2009


I love our local corner Indian restaurant. Every afternoon they have a fantastic buffet, chock-full of tandoori and chicken tikka masala, aloo mutter and veggie korma; as well as pakora, tikki, and samosa galore.

But best of all, to scoop up every spicy bite - hot, soft-yet-crispy naan, that buttery Indian flatbread that is to die for. Well, on the buffet at India Palace, the naan is the first thing to disappear. Usually you and your fellow diners enjoy your lunch with one eye on the buffet - once the piping hot naan hits the warming plate, you lunge to get yours before it's gone again, which doesn't take but a minute or two. Good stuff, that naan.

This one has a smiley face!

If you are like me and eat Indian out a bit too much for your pocketbook, then you decide to just make your own Indian at home. Much more economical. And yet, you strike out again if you try to get your naan at the grocery store: for one, it's a poor substitute to the fresh stuff. Secondly, you're going to pay a ton for 2 measly pieces. Ladies and gents, let me tell you: this is the point where you realize you just have to make the naan yourself.

Making your own naan is easy, cheap, and this recipe makes A TON so no worries about running out! Almost exactly what you get from the restaurants (I don't have the clay tandoor, but the grilled version here is pretty darn close). Give it a shot next time you make your own Indian at home - well worth the effort.

(from Allrecipes)

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
1/4 c. white sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 c. bread flour
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 c. butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.

At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

22 February 2009

Cornbread Supreme

We had a charity Chili Cookoff at my office, and I offered to bring some cornbread - mainly because I had the best, most delicious recipe for cornbread compliments of Ali over at Divine Domesticity. It is the perfect companion to the Calico Beans, but also works with chili or ham n' greens or hearty stews... Or by itself, too, that works :)

I omitted the green chiles this time because I was making it for others (who probably are not used to the heat coming from their sweet cornbread), but it's fantastic in there, so give it a shot at least once. This cornbread is more moist than your usual, and so much more flavorful. I love the addition of all that actual corn that dots the inside, and the slight heat that comes from the chiles. Stir in some of the cheese if you want to incorporate that flavor throughout as well (I certainly do on occasion). Great stuff! Best warm, but will work at room temperature too. And feeds a crowd...

Cornbread Supreme
(from Ali)

1 (16 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (16 oz.) can cream style corn
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
16 oz. container sour cream
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup margarine or butter, melted
2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix (7 1/2 oz. each)
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, combine cornbread mix, sour cream, butter, whole kernel corn, cream style corn, diced chiles, and eggs. Place in a lightly greased 9" x 13" baking dish and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 F for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden on top and cooked through.

19 February 2009

Muzzy's Ice Cream Sandwiches

A favorite treat from my younger days – my mom used to make a ton of these, and keep them in the deep freezer in our basement. This was perfect, as half of our basement was finished off into a rec room/play area where we spent a ton of time growing up. That made it easy for us kids - just walk to the back room of the basement and snitch one of these goodies when we wanted a treat.

They are deceptively easy: just store-bought cookies and Cool Whip, that’s all you need. That doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic, though! The Cool Whip is better than ice cream if you ask me, not sticky and thick but instead light and creamy even when frozen. The cookies are kinda blah on their own but make perfectly crispy, fudgey bookends to an ice cream sandwich. Oh, so divine, a definite taste of my childhood. These are a mainstay in our freezer.

Muzzy Ice Cream Sandwiches

(from Muzzy)

1 pkg. fudge-striped shortbread cookies
1 container Cool Whip

Spread a few tablespoons of Cool Whip On the bottom of one of the cookies. Top with a 2nd cookie. Make as many as desired, setting them on a baking sheet when prepped. Place in freezer for 2-3 hours until set, then wrap each individually with wax paper. Keep in the freezer in freezable container or Ziploc bag. Makes about 2 dozen sandwiches, which will last absolutely forever in your freezer :)

17 February 2009

Chicken Ravioli Soup with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Most Sundays, I find myself roasting a chicken. Not just for dinner, though (and this recipe, by the way? The best; I use it as my standard recipe). With just me and Hubs in the house, that means I can de-bone the rest of the chicken and have meat for, at the very least, one more meal. Plus the diced meat freezes really well.

More often than not, I roast that chicken and just de-bone it right away, so that ALL the meat can be used for casseroles or chicken salad or whatever little recipe I am taken with at the moment. Last week I found a great recipe for a chicken soup base on Allrecipes, and also linked to it was a nice brothy soup. So, that was my latest reincarnation from a roasted chicken.

This soup is fairly healthy and tasty! I made it so we could have soup to grab for lunches, and we slurped up every last bit. The raviolis make the soup a little more hearty, and are a nice twist from your usual chicken noodle variety out there. Freezes well too, which is perfect: I'm currently (desperately!) stocking the freezer for when the little Robot arrives. And be sure to use the soup base recipe linked below - it's an easy way to make your own broth and starter for chicken-based soups.

Chicken Ravioli Soup with Zucchini and Tomatoes
(from Allrecipes)

1 recipe Fast Chicken Soup Base
1 (8 or 9 oz.) package refrigerated small cheese ravioli
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare Fast Chicken Soup Base. Bring to a simmer.

Add the next 4 ingredients, then simmer until tender, 10-20 minutes. All done! Before removing from heat, stir in: 1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

15 February 2009

Cookies and Cream Rice Krispie Treats

These were awesome. Seriously awesome.

Another treat I made, this time especially for my brother Paulo. He has this addiction to Oreos, you see. I mean, bad. He has been this way from the time he could toddle around. My mom didn't really stock the pantry with them, but my brother was entranced by the ads on TV. "Oreo" was one of the first words he learned how to spell, thanks to those ads. In fact, because of his adoration, my mother actually started buying Oreos. He loved them; you'd never know from his beanpole physique, but he grew up eating these things all the time, and I mean all the time, even for breakfast. His obsession with all things Oreo continues until this day: the man has Oreo novelties galore, notepads and cookbooks and tins. Tins full of Oreos, of course. Don't know what to get Paul as a gift? Anything Oreo-themed is probably going to be well received, fortunately.

So, back to the baking: I was headed over to my brother's one Sunday and promised to bring dessert. I wanted to make Rice Krispie treats, and obviously wanted to have some fun with them. Adding Oreos, I decided, would be a no brainer. I did a quick Internet search, which brought up these and these and these... Oreo Rice Krispie treats are popular things, apparently! I liked bits of several recipes, so played around with them until I had what you see pictured.

These are more of a cookies and creme treat - chocolate rice krispie bars studded with chunks of Oreo cookies, and dipped in a creamy white chocolate topped with crushed Oreos. Oh, yes. And they taste as good as they sound! Needless to say, the ton of leftovers never made it out of my brother's house.

Cookies and Cream Rice Krispie® Treats
(Adapted from several recipes)

1/2 c. chunks bittersweet chocolate
3-4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 oz. (1 pkg) marshmallows
1 tsp. vanilla
6 c. Rice Krispie® cereal
15-20 Oreo® cookies, chopped
4-6 oz. white chocolate, chopped
15 Oreo® cookies

Place bittersweet chocolate in a small bowl. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Set aside. Grease a 9X13 pan, and also set aside.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add marshmallows, and stir until melted and combined with butter. Turn off heat, and stir in melted bittersweet chocolate and vanilla. Gently stir in cereal and chopped cookies, and mix to coat evenly. Press into 9X13 pan, leveling the top (a buttered spatula works wonders here). Allow to cool completely.

Once cooled: cut into squares. Place remaining cookies in a food processor, and pulse until finely ground. Pour out onto a plate, for dipping. Place white chocolate in a small bowl. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted.

Dip the top of each square into the white chocolate, and then the crushed cookies. Set aside to cool and set completely. These will keep in an air-tight container like, forever. We still had one left over a week after I made them, and it was DELICIOUS.

10 February 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Oh my goodness! Where in the world does the time go?? Sorry for the week’s delay, it’s been chaos here. I’ve been working 12+ hour days and trying to keep up at home and spending actual time with other humans in-between, so I haven’t had much time to bake or blog unfortunately. Thank goodness I have this little gem of a recipe left over from SuperBowl time!

There isn’t much of a trick to these brownies – they are Dorie’s signature recipe, which I hadn’t tried before. Rich and much softer than this version, so I am still on the hunt for the perfect chewy-yet-rich brownie recipe. We shall find it one of these days, I have faith.

To up the ante on these, I decided to add some TJ mini peanut-butter cups. There isn’t a Trader Joe’s anywhere near me, but fortunately my sister Anne keeps me hooked up with all their goodies so that we don’t die from TJ withdrawals out here in Larryville. And FYI, the TJ peanut-butter cups are deemed clear of that whole Salmonella scare, so no fear in baking with them either. They added just the right amount of peanut-buttery goodness to these brownies.

Unfortunately I cut them while still a wee bit warm, so the cups oozed out all over the place. Only really a problem in the photogenic sense, though, the oozey goodness was just fine in a brownie…

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
(adapted from the lovely Ms. Dorie Greenspan)

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 container Trader Joe's mini peanut butter cups (for you poor slobs with no TJs: that's about 3/4 c. chopped regular peanut butter cups)

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolate and stir occasionally until the ingredients are just melted - you don't want them to get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

With a whisk, stir in the sugar. The mixture might get grainy, but it will even out. Whisk in the eggs one by one, then add the vanilla and whisk enthusiastically to smooth the batter. Finally, gently whisk in the salt and flour, stirring only until incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Gently stir in peanut butter cups.

Bake the brownies until the top is dull and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, usually about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the brownies to room temperature.

When they are completely cool, turn out onto a rack, peel away the foil and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into 32 slender rectangles, each roughly 2 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches.

02 February 2009

Jean's Cream Puff Cake

Once upon a time, a darling coworker (Jean!) made this cake for one of our coworkers on her birthday. It was soooo good, we were all begging for the recipe. Jean was kind enough to share, and I couldn't even wait I week. I had to make this thing again. It's a lot of cake for just me and Hubs (and Robot), though, so the plan was to bring it into work for my coworkers to yet again enjoy.

I tend to get to work early, about 6am. I didn't want this sucker sitting around warming up in our department (it's best chilled), so I put it in one of the fridges in the breakroom, on the bottom shelf near the back, as to not be in the way of my fellow coworker's lunches and yogurts and such.

Flash forward to 3 days later - I realize, as I shove my lunch in the breakroom fridge that morning, that nooooo! The cake, it's still in here! I had completely forgotten to put it out for my coworkers. I pulled it out of the fridge, popped open the lid to check it out. The cream-puff base had gotten a bit soggy by that point, so I sadly had to toss it in the trash. However there was one peculiar thing to note:

About a third of it was missing. Someone had decided to help themselves to the cake, and then came back for seconds and thirds. Either that, or a whole pack of employees went at it. Dude, seriously? Is nothing personal or sacred in the community office fridge??

I hope this story shows you just how good this cake is, though - worth the crime of sneaking into someone else's pan, in broad (office breakroom fluorescent lighting) daylight. With potential witnesses sitting around, no less. And perhaps later some sort of reprimand for your actions. The cake is EXACTLY like a cream puff - poofy, not sweet, but with a pudding-type filling (on top instead) and whipped cream and chocolate sweet chocolate...

Yeah I don't blame the person or persons, really. I probably would have done it, too.

Jean's Cream Puff Cake
(from my sweetheart of a coworker, Jean)

1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter
1 c. water
1 c. flour
4 large eggs

4 c. milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 (3.5 oz) pkgs. instant vanilla pudding
1 container Cool Whip
Chocolate syrup

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat butter and water to boiling over medium-high heat. Add flour and reduce heat to low. Cook and stir until it forms a ball and pulls away from the pan. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.
Spread in bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 35 minutes. Cool completely.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and milk and beat until smooth. Here's the trick, to keep things smooth: start with the cream cheese, give it a good beating until fluffy. Slowly but surely (while still beating), add the milk. Voila! Once these are well combined, add pudding mix and beat until thickened. Spread over cooled shell.

Top with whipped topping, and drizzle chocolate syrup over the top. Keep refrigerated until serving.