Saturday, February 28, 2009
February Daring Bakers: You Still Can't Go Wrong with Chocolate
Well, another month has flown by - a rather busy one, as evidenced by the slow posting around Red Ramekin lately. Don't worry, I'm still cooking even though that sometimes means dinner is served at 9:30, but, while we're happy to eat at that hour, we usually aren't as happy to take a break between meal prep and chow-time to take some gourmet glamor shots.
But another month's end means another Daring Bakers challenge, and I certainly wasn't too busy to make the obligatory February flourless chocolate cake. Not too busy at all.
[just about perfect panna cotta]
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.
Well that little blurb (brought to you by the Daring Bakers) sums it up: February's challenge was a very (very, very) chocolatey flourless cake, to be served with homemade ice cream. So what is there to be said about a flourless chocolate cake?
I was a bit disappointed in this month's challenge, not because I didn't like the recipe, but because I didn't feel like I learned much this time around. I've made several flourless chocolate cakes before, and quite frankly, you really have to try to mess them up. Sure, you can overbake or make some other minor mistake, but when your only ingredients are chocolate, butter, and eggs, there isn't much that can be done to make the final product actually taste bad. And while ice cream is a fantastic thing to make indeed, it's something I'm pretty familiar with.
[nothin' wrong with that]
But enough complaining, because even though this was a relatively quick challenge, it was definitely a hit. I was inspired by the cake accompaniments enough to make three of them (two ice creams and a panna cotta), which meant that I was forced to throw a dessert party to avoid having to consume them all myself. Jonathan and I had some friends over, made sure that all of our spoons were clean, and piled plates high with all manner of creamy, buttery, chocolatey goodness.
I took "drinks" as the general theme for dessert, and made bourbon ice cream, absinthe ice cream (yes, with real absinthe - not for the faint of heart!), and a coffee panna cotta that made use of some of Jonathan's freshly-roasted, freshly-ground beans.
The cake itself was quite tasty (how could it not be?), but overall, not much more exciting than good brownie. I've made tastier flourless cakes in the past, and would probably revert to one of those if tasked with making another cake like this one. The accompaniments, though, were very exciting. Bourbon ice cream is something I've done before, and it never fails to please. Flavored with a hint of vanilla and brown sugar, it goes with pretty much anything.
[creamy bourbon ice cream, served in an ice shot glass]
The absinthe ice cream was...interesting. I'm not sure I could eat a whole cone's worth, but it was certainly unique and definitely a worthwhile experiment. And the panna cotta? Oh. My. God. It was incredibly good, and incredibly flavorful. It was nothing more than a basic panna cotta recipe with some freshly roasted and ground coffee beans steeped in the mix for a bit, but it was wonderfully balanced and light.
So, this month's lesson? You can't go wrong with chocolate. It may be easy, and it may have been done before, but nobody complains when you serve it. And a little something exotic on the side doesn't hurt, either. Thanks to this month's hosts for a fun excuse to host a party, but I'm already anticipating next month's challenge!