Andrew MacIssac’s Flourless Chocolate Torte

March 7, 2009

Here’s the recipe I talked about last Saturday in my Daring Baker’s post. It was a signature dessert at Pronto Ristorante in Toronto in the late 80’s and early nineties. Although it’s presented here with a mocha whipped cream, Andrew used to frost the top with whipped white chocolate ganache on occasion and that was heavenly, too. Hope you love it as much as I do!

(Sorry I don’t have a picture for you today. I was away for several days this week and didn’t have time to make a cake and take a snap.)

Flourless Chocolate Torte
With Mocha Whipped Cream

Ingredients: for 1 eight inch torte

1 pound of bitter-sweet chocolate
8 whole eggs
1/4 pound sweet butter
1/3 cup sugar

Method:

1. Butter a deep 8 inch cake pan and then line the bottom with silicon paper.
2. Over a bain-marie, in a large stainless steel bowl, melt the chocolate with the butter stirring with a spatula every minute. When all the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat and set aside.
3. Whip the eggs and sugar together until it triples in volume.
4. When the chocolate is still warm, add half the whipped eggs and incorporate smoothly. Add the remaining whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture and mix gently along the sides until homogenous. Pour the mixture into the cake pan starting from front to back. Be careful not to shock the mixture or you will loose the volume that is so desirable.
5. With a spatula, gently smooth out the top. Bake in a 125°C convection oven starting from a cold oven for 60 minutes. Be careful when closing the door to the oven!
6. Test the torte by examining the surface for resiliency when tapped and felt. The torte should appear firm when done. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan. When cool to the touch, heat the bottom of the pan briefly and turn-out onto flat round surface dusted with cocoa. Repeat and flip the torte over a second time.
7. With a knife heated under hot running water, divide the torte into 10 even pieces.

Mocha whipped cream

Ingredients:

1 double expresso
1/2 liter 35% cream
1/3 cup sugar

Method;
Combine all the ingredients and whip until set.

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A heart of darkness

February 28, 2009

db-feb1
When I saw the February Daring Baker’s challenge was to make a Chocolate Valentino cake using a recipe by Chef Wan, I was stoked since my mother’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day! What perfect luck to have a heart shaped cake as our challenge when I needed to bake something special on that day anyhow!

I used Amadei’s Tuscano 66% cocoa chocolate to make my cake and I paired it with a simple but super rich caramel sauce (see recipe below). Since one of the reasons this recipe was chosen as a DB challenge was that it used just three simple ingredients, I thought making a sauce using just three ingredients (water, sugar and cream) was the perfect accompaniment. And besides, chocolate and caramel are a match made in heaven, right?

Now, I don’t like to be a naysayer (actually, that’s not true, I do sort of like to whine and complain, just not right this second), but I have to say that I didn’t like this recipe and I won’t make it again. I made flourless chocolate cake literally hundreds of times as an apprentice to the now late (and much missed) pastry chef Andrew MacIssac. His recipe calls for 8 eggs and some sugar that is used to make a sabayon with egg yolks before they are added to the melted chocolate. The result is a cake that is simultaneously fudgier and lighter than the cake recipe we used for this month’s challenge. (If you’d like Andrew’s recipe, drop me a line and I’ll dig it out of my back up drive and send it to you).

That said, although I didn’t fall in love with this Valentine’s Day cake, I do want to thank the hosts for doing a great job! The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.

Dana’s Easy Caramel Sauce

11/2 cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
3/4 cup (175 mL) 35% whipping cream

Combine the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan set over high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil sugar, brushing down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped into water to dissolve any crystals that start to form, until the mixture is the colour of amber. Remove from heat.

Shield your hands with oven mitts or clean dish towels and whisk in the cream until the mixture quits boiling. Makes about 11/2 cups (375 mL) caramel sauce.

Tip: Add a gourmet touch by sprinkling large flake sea salt over the sauce once it has been poured over the cake.


Daring Bakers Ride Again

January 29, 2009

img_2470Lord knows this is not my best food photograph. Nor was this my best Daring Baker’s challenge ever. Sigh. My kitchen karma was severely out of whack when I went to make these tuiles.  The result: most of them turned out pretty much ugly.

I paired my not so pretty tuiles with my semi-famous microwave butterscotch pudding (made with homo milk instead of the 2% called for in the original recipe and with demerrara sugar for a deep, rich flavour). The recipe uses two egg yolks so it was a perfect choice as a companion for the tuiles on a practical level.

My embarrassing results sting badly; you see I used to make a version of these feather light cookies on a daily basis when, at the beginning of my career, I was the pastry assistant in a restaurant kitchen. Oh the shame! Am I washed up?  Have I lost my touch? Or, was it just a bad baking day?  Sometimes the simplest tasks can be the most humbling!

But, enough whining about my uninspired results. Visit the Daring Baker’s site and click on the links to see what my fellow bakers have cooked up. Some of their results are absolutely lovely!

Credits:  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.


Daring Bakers: Amber adventures

November 29, 2008

caramel20cake

The Daring Bakers’ challenge for November was technique driven. We caramelized sugar in two different ways to make a yummy cake and luscious caramel candies and we made a brown butter-based frosting that required caramelizing the natural sugars in butter.

Although the challenge encompassed two recipes and sounds daunting, I was able to make both in the time it took the rest of the family to see Quantum of Solace (sorry Bond lovers, it’s just not my thing).

It was a fun and delicious challenge; in fact, the Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting was eaten long before it had a chance to become stale. All the recipes worked well but if I were to make this dessert again, I’d bake the cake in a smaller pan so that I could cut the cake into two layers since there was more than ample frosting to cloak a layer cake.

caramels

For the caramels, I made the recipe using ground vanilla beans (as directed) and garnished my finished candies with Cyprus flake salt and Salish smoked salt. The flake salt was a universal hit, while the smoked salt appealed to the adults exclusively. Truthfully, this Alice Medrich recipe is almost too good, making far more candy than my will power could endure. So, if I make these caramels again, it will be only just before a huge crowd comes over — I just couldn’t leave them alone!

Not to candy coat it, but this was a great challenge! Thanks to the following folks for making it all happen:

Challenge Hosts:
• Delores of Culinary Curiosity
• Alex, the Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo
• Jenny of Foray into Food
• And Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go

Recipe credit goes to:
• Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting by Shuna Fish Lydon
• Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels by Alice Medrich, from Pure Dessert

Hungry for more? View more caramel capers by visiting the blogs published by other members of the Daring Bakers.


Daring Bakers: Pizza Party

October 29, 2008

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was chosen by Rosa, who writes one of the blogs I visit on almost a daily basis.

The recipe for October was for a two-day pizza dough.  Although I love my own pizza dough recipe that takes only about 30 minutes to create from assembling the ingredients to popping the pizza in the oven, I accepted this challenge with enthusiasm.  After all, that’s what being a Daring Baker is all about, right?

My pizza was topped with my own homemade pizza sauce (you can get the recipe on Charmian Christie’s Blog) and Oliver’s favourite topping combo: golden pineapple and bacon.

The resulting pizza made a good Sunday afternoon lunch but to be honest, I won’t use this crust recipe again. My own faster-to-make dough is  more delicious (or maybe just more familiar and therefore more accepted by my little family?).

What I will do is participate in next month’s Daring Bakers challenge and I will check out what all my fellow Daring Bakers from around the world thought of this recipe by visiting this website. I hope you will, too!


Daring Bakers: Lavash mezze party

September 27, 2008

After several months of hardcore, pastry-school-worthy Daring Baker’s challenges such as Danish, Éclairs and Opera Cake, this month’s savoury, flat bread challenge felt like a vacation! Our wise and esteemed hosts were Natalie from Gluten A Go Go and Shellyfish from Musings in the Fishbowl and featured a recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

This challenge was a wonderfully on-trend choice since discussion about the Mediterranean diet has been on TV as well in national magazines such as Eating Well and this article carried by Reuters that reviewed 12 international studies concerned with that diet.

So, as Hurricane Ike left a ravished Texas in his wake and was causing lashes of rain to lick my windows all the way up here in Toronto, I spent an afternoon creating a mezze feast that featured this lavash. That evening I sat down with my son Oliver and our family friend Brian to enjoy a Mediterranean diet-inspired platter of sunshine flavoured roasted tomatoes, organic kalamata olives and Greek sheep and goat cheese. We scooped up these morsels with shards of the crisp lavash. It was a lovely, easy-to-enjoy meal.

If you’d like to duplicate my mezze party, all you need to do is to hit the Waldorf School’s Village Market for olives, cheese, tomatoes and basil; roast the tomatoes; then make Peter’s lavash.

Here’s how I prepared the tomatoes:

• Halve roma tomatoes lengthwise.
• Remove and discard seeds.
• Place tomatoes in a bowl and drizzle with just enough extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to coat lightly.
• Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
• Add a couple of minced garlic cloves and toss to combine.
• Spread tomatoes, cut side up, on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
• Spoon any liquid in the bowl into the tomatoes.
• Roast for 2 hours at 250°F (125°C).
• Cool to room temperature.
• Chop tomatoes and toss with basil chiffonade and more salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil to taste.


I didn’t dare…

August 31, 2008

Although this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge was to make one of my favourite pastries, time and life conspired to prevent me from rising to the challenge.

I’ll be back in triple double dare shape for next month, but in the meantime, I’ll be enjoying the handy work of other intrepid bakers. I hope you’ll sample their virtual wares, too: Daring Bakers Blogroll.