Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Baker's Chocolate Valentino


For the Daring Baker's challenge this month we made Chocolate Valentinos.  This is the perfect thing to make for this month since it's the month of Valentine's, and we know that Valentine's means chocolate.  This Valentino is the one of the ultimate chocolate desserts.  One of the best things about this dessert is that it can be adjusted to individual tastes by using different kinds of chocolate.  The taste of the chocolate used really shines through.

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.

February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan


Chocolate Valentino
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. {link of folding demonstration}
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.


This cake is usually served with fresh whipped cream as a topper.  In this challenge we were given the option to make homemade icecream to pair with it or we could use the whipped cream option if we preferred.  I chose to do the whipped cream to pair with this.  I haven't broken my ice cream maker out yet and so I went with the safer option:).
DB Valentino

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's World Nutella Day! Nutella Rolls


That's right, Nutella has it's own special day and there's a website just for the occasion just click here to visit it.  Sara of   Ms Adventures in Italyand Michelle from Bleeding Espressothought that Nutella was so incredible that it deserved it's own special day.  Why not give Nutella it's own day of honor; this creamy chocolate spread tastes so good and can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways.

Anyone who wanted to  "honor" Nutella on World Nutella Daywas encouraged to make something using Nutella.  It didn't necessarily have to be a special or original recipe, it could be something as simple as spreading Nutella on a piece of bread and enjoying it.  It's so easy to find something to pair with Nutella!

For those of you who aren't familiar with Nutella, here's some background:
"Nutella®, in its original form, was first created in the 1940s by Mr. Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero company. At the time, cocoa was in short supply because of rationing due to World War II, so chocolate was very limited.

So Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts, which are plentiful in the Piedmontregion of Italy (northwest), to extend the chocolate supply.  The original version of Nutella spread was called "pasta gianduja," pasta which means paste, and "gianduja" which is the name of a carnival character famous to the region, a character that can be found in the first advertisements for the product.  This original form of Nutella was actually made in loaves and wrapped in tinfoil, so it could be sliced and placed on bread for mothers to make sandwiches for their children.  But many children, as you could imagine, would throw away the bread and only eat the pasta gianduja!  So Mr. ferrero altered the product into a paste that came in a jar, so the paste could be spread on the bread.  This then became known as "supercreama gianduja," because it was a spread-able version of the gianduja.  "Supercreama gianduja" was eventually renamed "Nutella" in 1964, with the origin of the word being "nut" and the "ella" giving it a soft ending.  

The early version of Nutella spread was received very well once introduced, since it was a much more inexpensive way for people to enjoy something that tasted so good...a kilo of chocolate at the time was 6 times the cost of a kilo of pasta gianduja.  So Nutella was a product that everyone could, and did, enjoy.  The product became so popular that Italian food stores started a service called "The Smearing".  Children could go to their local food store with a slice of bread for a "smear" of "supercrema gianduja."

Nutella was first imported from Italy into the U.S. over 20 years ago, in 1983, mainly in the Northeastern part of the country.  The popularity of Nutella grew steadily over the next 10 years, and demand became so strong that the Ferrero company decided to build a plant in the U.S., in Somerset, NJ."
This information was taken from:   Nutella USA

Since finding out about National Nutella Day I knew I wanted to make something.  I thought about different recipes and I looked at entries from previous years  just to get some ideas.  I thought about it for a while and then I thought that "Nutella Rolls" would be something new and interesting.  It's basically a take of cinnamon rolls but instead of the cinnamon filling it would be a Nutella filling.  Sounds pretty awesome, right? 

The Nutella Rolls were pretty easy to make.  The only time consuming part of the whole process was waiting on the dough to rise.  Once the dough had finished it's rising process I had them put together in no time.  These rolls would be a great for breakfast or dessert.  You must try them fresh out of the oven too; that's pretty hard to beat.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Hot wings are one of our favorite foods.  We usually have them at least once a month if not more.  There are so many different flavors available now but I think it's safe to say that original hot is still the most common flavor served.  There are several different recipes and dishes floating around that have the taste of hot wings incorporated in them; from soups to sandwiches to pastas, there's a recipe out there to quench your craving.

I have made a few different recipes that use the flavor of hot wings and so far they have all been winners.  I've also come across other recipes that include the flavor that I have saved and will try one day.  I try to space them out so we don't have a hot wing flavor overload:). 

I was in the mood for the hot wing flavor on a cold night last week but I also wanted a soup or chili; so I decided to make Rachael Ray's Buffalo Chicken Chili.  I've made this recipe before and it was a huge hit.  The flavors incorporated in it are awesome and you definitely do get the taste of hot wings.  She also recommends serving it with a side of tortilla chips that have been sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles and put in the broiler for just a few minutes.  Eating the chili with a side of blue cheese chips definitely has the taste of wings with blue cheese dressing.  This chili is a great spin on such a popular dish!

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

I wanted to make  something to go with supper one night but I wanted something a little different from the norm.  We always have beans, peas, corn or asparagus and while there's absolutely nothing wrong with any of those I just wanted a change.  The main dish of the meal had a lot of veggies in it, so I thought something light would pair with it perfectly.

I had a pint of grape tomatoes in the refrigerator so I really wanted to do something with those.  I thought a fresh mozzarella and tomato salad would be perfect.  It was so easy to put together and it tasted incredible.  It really complimented the main dish perfectly.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Blue Cheese Turkey Meatballs

I had some ground turkey on hand the other night and I wasn't really sure what to do with it.  I looked around and some websites and searched for recipes, but when you type in ground turkey there are so many options that pop up and they can be overwhelming.  I finally narrowed it down and listed some other ingredients to the search.  I came across a turkey meatball recipe on All Recipes and thought it sounded pretty good.  I decided that I would make those for our supper.

I have never made meatballs before so this was going to be a learning experience for me.  Meatballs are actually pretty easy to make.  I guess I always thought they would be pretty difficult but they really aren't and it doesn't take long to make them at all.  I really liked this recipe because it recommended baking them; so it was one of those that could be made and then left until it was finished.  Sometimes it's just nice to have meals that don't require a lot of attention during the cooking part, and this was one of them.

I wasn't really sure how they were going to come out so I was a little worried at first and I guess I just didn't know what to expect.  Then end result was awesome.  The flavors blended together perfectly.  I was worried they might be a little dry but they weren't, everything about them was perfect.  The meatballs themselves had tons of flavor so there really wasn't need for a sauce or anything to go with them.  I just put them on a bed of pasta that was tossed in olive oil and parsely and then I sprinkled everything with parmesan cheese.
Blue Cheese Turkey Meatballs 

Roasted Asparagus

As I have said before, asparagus is one of our favorite veggies.  I am always looking for new ways to prepare it, just so we're not stuck having the same recipe all the time.  The flavor of asparagus itself is very good, just add a little salt and pepper it's good to go but it's always nice to have a little variation.  I know there are only so many ways to cook things but there are endless possibilities as far as flavor and seasonings. 

Since I was trying to do something a different with the asparagus I decided to roast it and add some flavors that I haven't used before.  This was so easy to throw together and it didn't take long to cook at all.  That's another good thing about asparagus, it doesn't take long to cook no matter how it's prepared.  The end result was awesome, it was a little sweet and had some tartness from the lemon juice.  The combination of flavors were incredible.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Daring Bakers



For the Daring Bakers January challenge we made Tuiles.  Tuiles are a very versatile thing; they can be made to compliment savory dishes or to go with sweet dishes.  After Thanksgiving and Christmas the people that chose this challenge wanted to do a light dish, tuiles seem to be one of the lightest dishes out there.  

 This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Here is a little background on tuiles from the hosts of the challenge: Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Once set, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles for which they're named. The Dutch angle: traditionally this batter was used to bake flat round cookies on 31st December, representing the year unfold. On New Years day however, the same batter was used but this day they were presented to well-wishers shaped as cigars and filled with whipped cream, symbolizing the New Year that's about to roll on. 

There are many different variations of Tuiles available, both savory and sweet.  For this challenge I decided to stick with the sweet recipe; you can never have too many sweets :).  Although I've seen some recipes for the savory tuiles that looked pretty good too, so I may have to try them out at some point in time as well.

I just stuck with the basic recipe that was provided for us for this challenge.  There were also some variations provided as well, but I thought the basic one would go with quite  a bit. 


Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

 ¼ cup softened butter (not melted but soft)
 ½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)


Oven: 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones…. (I didn't have a stencil so I did the piping method)


Bake butterflies in a preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again.  Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.


***pictures to come, as soon as I get them loaded.
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