In Need of a Distraction

28 02 2009
Ouch!

Ouch!

After spending the week fulfilling various writing assignments, covering everything from mother-in-law TMI to commercials that employ the use of flowing armpit hair, there comes a time where the assignments are done and all of the housework is completed, and I have to focus on the issue at hand: looking for work is starting to really get to me.

I am not used to being unemployed and, truthfully, I don’t do it well. I actually enjoy being overly busy with a an overflowing inbox and a line of people outside my office. It makes me feel useful and necessary. However, leave me at home with nothing to do but scan job listings and tackle a mountain of housework, and I am completely at a loss and, most likely, a hostage whatever topic is being discussed on “The View.”

Then, there are those well-meaning souls who constantly ask, “how’s the job search going? Have you found anything yet?” Could I feel like more of a loser as they ask those questions and give me Pity Eyes?

Yes, I know I’m not alone in this situation and it will get better. The right job (as opposed to just any job) is out there somewhere. I just have to keep looking. We will find each other.

Thankfully, I can always bake (which is so much more fun than obsessive cleaning!). This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge – Chocolate Valentino Cake – consists of three simple ingredients and how you interpret them is part of the challenge. This is a very dense and fudgey cake that forms a brownie-like crust on the top.

This month’s challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad – Baker & Chef. This month, we made a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. The recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan. Notes in parentheses are from Wendy and Dharm.

A few notes before you get started:

  • Use your favorite chocolate – the finished cake will taste exactly like the chocolate you use. Be creative with your chocolate, if you like a sweeter cake use milk chocolate or a combination of the semisweet and milk chocolate. If you like bittersweet chocolate use that and add sweetness by mixing the semi sweet with bittersweet. If you are daring, try white chocolate. (Dharm used all bittersweet and Wendy used a half bitter/half semi sweet chocolate).
  • A higher cacao percentage increases the bitterness of the chocolate.
  • Equipment – it is optional to use a heart shaped pan. For a real Valentino, bake it in a heart shaped pan or cut it out into a heart shape. You may use any shape pan that gives you an area of 50” – 6×8 or 7×7. An 8” spring form pan works with great results as do smaller pans or ramekins.
  • An instant read thermometer highly recommended.
  • I am a total crapweasel, as I did not have the time (or the inclination as unemployment tends to make us Type A’s a tad depressed) to make my own ice cream, so I used what Hubs bought on sale at Kroger.

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.

Dharm’s Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

Ingredients
1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream’s fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted – cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

Wendy’s Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes

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.

David Lebovitz link for making ice cream if you do not have an ice cream freezer.

Links to helpful tips:
Folding video demonstration.
Egg Whipping video demonstration.

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2 responses

3 03 2009
Liandre

Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

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18 05 2009
Susan

Try part time. I helped my husband run our small business from home for years and then did part time work from home…court reporting transcription. Loved it. I was incredibly efficient. House was clean, meals planned and on time…laundry was caught up (always)…I was amazing. And turn off the View…those women are poisonous (esp Behar) and do a fabulous job at making the rest of us feel diminished, inadequate, etc. I have though that for years and I even like Elizabeth and think Sharon is okay…

Just an idea 😀 Nice blog too!

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