Monday, March 02, 2009

Daring Bakers February Challenge: Chocolate and Snow Ice Cream

First, a little business for the Daring Bakers:

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.

Now that we have that "blog checker" stuff out of the way....

Yes, I know it is March 2 and February has come and gone but I'm late posting this.

OH, who am I trying to kid, I'm just late even doing it. In fact, I had already told our two founders Lis and Ivonne as well as my really good buddy, Dharm that I wasn't going to be able to make this month's challenge. Too much work and then some family things popped up at the end of the of the month and since February is so darn short I just couldn't get one more day to do the challenge.

BUT, last night the weather Gods smiled upon me and dumped over 8" of snow on top of my little part of Connecticut meaning I was working at home today.

March 09 Snow Storm in Connecticut

That also meant I had access to my kitchen! So, in between answering a ton of emails from that certain project/architect that has led me to start think about drinking at 8AM on most days AND is making me want to join a cult in a foreign country, I was able to put together February's challenge; which really wasn't that time consuming, especially when you adapt the baking instructions for the microwave.

Yes, you read that right, I said baking and microwave in the same sentence.

You may remember that about two years ago, I was living in a room in Fairfield for work Monday - Friday and commuting back home to Cambridge, MA on the weekends. The only thing I had to cook with was a microwave and I got pretty good at adapting real food recipes from a few cookbooks for the microwave. Well, there was also a little help from Barbara Kafka's really awesome microwave cook book, Microwave Gourmet.

So, this afternoon when I got a wild hair and decided to go ahead and do this month's challenge, the flourless chocolate cake, I thought heck, let's see if this baby will microwave. And you know what?! It will.

Feb. DB Challenge: Microwaved!

It is a little bit drier I'm sure than if I had baked it but it worked out surprisingly well and was really dense and chocolate tasting.

Great, part one of this month's challenge down. Now, on to the ice cream part.

When you grow up in a place that averages over 100" of snow a year, you get really creative with how to use the stuff. One of the things I loved best about days we got lots of snow when I was growing up was when my Dad would trudge out into the yard, way down by Lake Superior and scoop up a bucket full of snow because that meant only one thing, he was going to make snow ice cream!

Snow ice cream is super simple and quick. The ice cream you make with snow is the consistency of soft serve ice cream but depending on if you use whole cream or not and how much cream to snow ratio, it can be really rich.

You can flavor it by adding things like melted chocolate, fruit juice, extracts and cordial liquors to it. I'm fond of Bailey's snow ice cream but don't let my folks know that because they sure didn't introduce me to that flavor...

Anyways, to make snow ice cream, place two large bowls in the freezer or if it is snowing when you decide to make the ice cream, place one of the bowls outside to catch the snow. You will need about 8 cups of clean, fresh snow.

Snow for Snow Ice Cream

This is really important.

It has to be clean (no yellow or brown snow please) and it has to be fresh, like less than 8 hours old. Basically just scrap off the top layer of snow but don't dig down too deep because you don't want twigs, dirt, and leaves either.

Leave the bowl outside while you do the next step. Snow melts really fast and you don't want it to melt until you are ready to use it.

Next, take the other bowl out of the freezer and add about 2 cups of whipping or heavy cream (you can use 1 cup of whole milk and 1 cup of cream too but it won't be as rich). Whip the cream until you have froth.

Whipped Cream for DB Challenge

Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 Tbsp of vanilla and any flavoring until it is sweet and the flavor strength you want. Whip it to until you have a firm whipped cream.

Now, go get the snow and work fast! Fold into the whipped cream the snow until you have the consistency you want.

Mixing Up the Snow Ice Cream

The snow will begin to melt while you are doing this so be quick, quick, quick.

Place the ice cream back outside or into the freezer for about 10 - 15 minutes. Scoop into bowl and serve. Trust me, it tastes great and it makes a great topping for Chocolate Valentino Cake!

Feb 2009 Daring Baker Challenge: Chocolate Valentino Cake and Snow Ice Cream

Thanks Dharm and Wendy for picking a challenge that let me relive my favorite childhood winter treat.

To see all the other wonderful Daring Baker Chocolate Valentino Cakes and myriad of ice cream flavors go check out our blogroll.
To get the "real recipes" for the cake or the ice creams, go check outWendy's or Dharm's blogs.

Chocolate Valentino Cake For the Microwave
*Note about my microwave: My microwave is a small 600w unit. You times may vary depending on the size and wattage of your microwave. Also for cakes/baked goods to come out the best they can in microwave, you need have a carousel.

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 2 quart microwave bowl (I used my 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup) and cover with microwave proof plastic wrap. Melt on medium high for 4 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir to finish melting chocolate and butter. Allow to cool to finger touch (about 4 - 8 minutes)

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter a deep 2 quart microwavable dish. (Note: Mine was full of something else so I use a 7 x 7 x 2" square pan for mine. Worked fine but resulted in a bit thicker cake)

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 dish 3/4 of the way full. Cover with plastic wrap.

9. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and microwave on high for an additional 2 minutes or until the middle of the cake is firm and looks like a brownie.

10. Cool cake on a rack for 3 minutes then unmold. It is important that you unmold quickly because microwave cakes get gooey if they are left in the container.

Snow Ice Cream

8 cups fresh, clean snow
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup sugar

Put two large mixing bowls in the freezer or outside to get cold. Fill one bowl with snow and leave outside. In other bowl, whip cream until foamy. Add vanilla and sugar and whip cream until firm. Working quickly, fold in snow until ice cream is soft serve consistancy. Place ice cream outside or in freezer for 10 - 15 minutes to refirm and serve immediately.

You can flavor the ice cream with any liquid flavor or chocolate syrup. Ice cream does not hold solids like fruit or nuts well.

Leftover snow ice cream can be frozen but should be eaten immediately for best results.