{DB} Flourless Chocolate Cake and Coffee Ice Cream

The Daring Bakers challenge for this month is a flourless chocolate cake and ice cream.

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. You can find the recipes on their blogs.

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Although the hosts suggested vanilla ice cream, we had the option of making any flavor. I’ve made vanilla ice cream countless times, so I decided to make Coffee Ice Cream {and yes, I used it in this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection too :P }.  The ice cream recipe comes from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop and you can find it here.

For me, the star was the ice cream. The texture and taste were perfect. As for the cake, I didn’t like the texture. It was too soft and light. As for taste, I felt it was missing something. Maybe salt? I halved the recipe and used Guittard semi-sweet chocolate.

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Farro with Green Onion Sauce, Toasted Walnuts, and Asparagus

{This is my 100th Post! Yay!}

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Farro.What is it? Farro is a whole-grain, similar to wheat, grown in Italy. Unlike spelt or wheatberries, it remains crunchy when you cook it.  It has a nutty, earthy taste with some complex undertones of oats and barley.

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It took me forever to find farro. I looked in (1)Whole Foods, (2)Trader Joes, (3)Bristol Farms, (4)the local crunchy-granola health food store, (5)Henry’s, (6)Vons. I finally found it at Surfas, which I probably would have gone sooner if it wasn’t an hour drive.  I was determined to find it and my determination paid off. The taste is out of this world.  If  you find some, buy it and cook with it.

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Farro with Green Onion Sauce, Toasted Walnuts, and Asparagus was the next recipe for me to try out of Super Natural Cooking. In addition to the farro, which is the star of the recipe, the green onion sauce is absolutely amazing in taste and simplicity. It’s chopped up green onions, sauteed with a bit of olive oil and salt. The onions are then slightly pureed with a hand blender. That’s it!

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Once the farro is almost done cooking, you add in the asparagus, toasted walnuts, lemon zest. Season with salt (I also added freshly squeezed lemon juice–I didn’t want the lemon to go to waste after taking its zest :p ). Serve it by topping with the green onion sauce, creme fraiche, and some parm cheese.

You can find the recipe here.

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The Sweeter {Vegan} Side

The wonderful thing about vegan baking is that you don’t have to wait for ingredients to come to room temperature. With no eggs or butter, I can bake at a moment’s notice. That’s what happened this week. I wanted something sweet to eat on my Vegan Tuesday.

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As I flipped through Veganomicon looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth, I happened upon a recipe for Jelly Doughnut Cupcakes. The recipe was easy and straightforward. I had all the ingredients on-hand and didn’t have to wait for them to get to proper temperature. :P

imgp3622These were very moist and delicious. The tops get nice and crispy like a doughnut and the center has the surprise of jelly. You can find the recipe here.

I also made Tamarind Lentils from Veganomicon and served them with brown rice, broccoli, and a whole-wheat. pita. I love tamarind, so it was a no-brainer that I was going to make it when I saw it in the cookbook. The end result is a sweet and spicy satisfying dish. You can find the recipe here.

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{TWD} Fleur de Sel Caramel & Cardamon Crunch Bars with Coffee Ice Cream

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I’m eating way too many of these bars while watching the Red Carpet and the Oscars. They’re so good, the bars. The Oscars, I’m sure will be long and drawn out. But I’ll watch the whole show anyway.  And eat these bars–with Coffee Ice Cream!

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours, is Carmel Crunch Bars.

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The bars were quick and easy to make and bake. The cookie base is a brown-sugar shortbread with finely chopped chocolate {I used semi-sweet}. The original recipe called for cinnamon. Because I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to grind cinnamon, I substituted cardamon. Plus I thought cardamon would pair well with the espresso powder {and Coffee Ice Cream!} and chocolate  in the recipe.

Once the base is done baking, it is topped with more finely chopped chocolate {semi-sweet again} which melts for a couple minutes in the just-turned-off oven.

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Instead of using Heath Toffee Bits for the topping, I chopped up some  homemade Fleur de Sel Caramels I had left over from November’s Daring Bakers challenge.  This created a nice caramely layer over the chocolate.

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The Playing Around suggestion with this recipe is to make Caramel Crunch Ice Cream Bars. I love making {and eating!} ice cream, so of course I would take up the suggestion. I made Coffee Ice Cream! from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. You can find the recipe here.

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Thank you to Whitney of What’s left on the table? for selecting these absolutely wonderful bars. You can find the recipe on her blog. YUM!

Apricot, Almond, & Chocolate Spiraled Coffee Cake

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For most of last week I was on vacation, out of town.  When I got back home, I immediately had to go to work on Wednesday and didn’t have an opportunity to bake. {Of course, it was noticed by my co-workers who said our treat counter was looking mighty empty :P }. So this weekend I was itching to get back into the kitchen and make some yummy treats.

The next recipes for me to tackle out of The Art & Soul of Baking were the Rich Breakfast Dough and the Apricot, Almond, & Chocolate Spiraled Coffee Cake.

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The Rich Breakfast Dough is the base for the next few recipes in the book. It is a leaner brioche–it uses less eggs and butter–and is a good companion for the sweet fillings and toppings for the cakes and breads that follow it. It is easy to make and work with and it’s flavor is outstanding.

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The Apricot, Almond, & Chocolate Spiraled Coffee Cake is fairly easy to assemble. Once the breakfast dough is done rising, you roll it out to a 11″ by 15″ rectangle. Smear it with the almond filling–a mixture of almond paste, sugar, and butter–, scatter chopped up amaretto-soaked dried apricots and mini-chocolate chips, and roll it up nice and tight. You slice up the dough, but not all the way to create a twist pattern. You can then let it rise for an hour or stick it in the refrigerator to bake the next morning (which is what I did). It bakes in the oven for 20 minutes or so and smells absolutely wonderful.

Once the cake is done baking, you brush it with an apricot glaze (apricot jam and water) and drizzle with a sugar glaze (confectioner’s suger and water).

It was no surprise that this was a big hit at work. Everyone loved it and it satisfied their treat cravings.

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You can find the recipes for both the Rich Breakfast Dough and the Coffee Cake here.