The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.
I was both excited and scared when I saw Elissa's pick. I LOVE browned butter anything, but petit fours sounded so beyond my expertise. But the recipes looked so easy that I decided I'd make the petit fours instead of the baked Alaska (piping is a huge obstacle for me).
The brown butter pound cake Elissa selected from Gourmet (sniff, sniff) was a snap to make and the batter tasted so good I wanted to eat it out of the mixing bowl. I made the pound cake and base for the ice cream before work, split the cake layers, churned the ice cream and spread 2 cups of it in a 9x9 pan and froze it when I got home (early for the first time in well over a month). I had to go out for the evening but when I got home I sandwiched the frozen ice cream layer between the split cake layers, wrapped it and froze it. Everything was going so well that as I laid in bed trying to fall asleep, I decided I'd use transfers to decorate my petit fours. I imagined perfect, square petit fours coated with a thin layer of chocolate with elegant gold marbling on them. My decorating demons would be vanquished forever.
The next morning, I heated the cream, mixed in the chocolate and let it sit while I sliced the frozen cake and ice cream. So far so good. My squares weren't perfect, and I cut them smaller so more people at work could have one. Then I started enrobing them in chocolate and that's where everything fell apart (sometimes literally). The chocolate didn't want to coat all sides of the chocolate. If I got it all coated, the ice cream started oozing through. Some fell over on the tray or, worse, into my pan of glaze. At least they would still look elegant with their gold marbling from the transfers.
Or not. When I peeled off the transfers, I realized the chocolate was too cool to melt the pattern onto the petit fours, so the transfers only dulled the glossy appearance of the chocolate. By this time, I had long abandoned enrobing one petit four at a time and had lined them all up on the sheet pan and poured the glaze over them.
No worries. I didn't get to taste one as I left ours out of the freezer by mistake but my coworkers loved them. What's not to love about brown butter pound cake, rich vanilla ice cream and bittersweet chocolate glaze? For me, the real keeper was the brown butter pound cake. The vanilla ice cream was good, but not as good as my standby vanilla ice cream from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours.
Thanks, Elissa, for a fun challenge. When I was 17, I was also baking, but from a mix. I hope your first semester of college is easy and painless!
*******PLEASE NOTE: Lethally Delicious is on hiatus for the month of Ramadan. I will be responding to comments but not keeping up with my Google Reader or visiting bloggers other than those who leave comments. I'll be back around Sept. 10th with a spirit refreshed by this blessed month of fasting and prayer. Peace.
Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)
2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.
3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.
4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker.
Brown Butter Pound Cake
19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.
1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.
2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.
3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.
4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)
5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).
6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.
7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.