Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Daring Bakers: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Pear-Caramel Ice Cream

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was a flourless chocolate cake. I chose to make mine with milk chocolate after hearing reports from some other folks that darker chocolate resulted in somewhat bitter cake. The flavor was tasty, but I unfortunately overbaked the cakes a bit and they ended up a little dry. If you end up making the cakes in a muffin tin, do keep an eye on them--they went from totally uncooked to dry very quickly.

The ice cream I made was from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. I just got a new ice cream maker, and I wanted to make something really different for the challenge. I ended up going with a pear-caramel ice cream, which was easy to make and really delicious. The texture was smooth and both the pear and caramel flavors came through very well.

I topped off the whole thing with Sherry Yard's creamy caramel sauce. This caramel sauce is tangy, creamy, and absolutely delicious! I love her recipes because they are very precise and always come out perfectly. The sauce complemented the chocolate cake and the pear-caramel ice cream very well. Just use a big pot to make it so that when the cream is added, the hot caramel doesn't bubble up over everything.

Flourless Chocolate Cake (adapted from Chef Wan)
Makes 3 muffin-sized cakes

91 grams milk chocolate
29 grams unsalted butter
1 large egg, separated

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water, stirring often, until the chocolate and butter are melted.
2. Set aside the butter and chocolate to cool. Spray three muffin cups with oil.
3. Place the egg white in one medium bowl and the egg yolk in another bowl. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed, being careful not to overmix.
4. With the same beater, beat the egg yolks together briefly to combine.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate and mix to combine.
7. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten, and then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites until no streaks remain, being careful not to deflate the batter.
8. Divide the batter among the three muffin cups and carefully fill the remaining cups in the pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Place the muffin pan on a larger baking sheet and then put into the oven.
9. Bake until an instant read thermometer reads 140 degrees.

Pear-Caramel Ice Cream
(adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)
Makes a little under 1 pint

1 1/2 largish ripe pears, peeled and cored
90 grams (7 T) sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch salt
A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Dice the pears into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.
2. Pour the sugar into a large, deep saucepan. Shake the pan to distribute it evenly. Brush down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
3. Place the saucepan over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally to keep the sugar from burning. Do not stir. Occasionally, brush down and sugar crystals on the sides of the pan. When the caramel is a deep amber, carefully stir in the pear pieces. The caramel will seize up and harden, but just keep stirring and it will eventually melt again. Cook the pears for about 10 minutes, until cooked through.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in a splash of the cream, being very careful as the caramel may bubble up. Stir in the rest of the cream, along with the salt and lemon juice.
5. Let the mixture cool completely to room temperature, and then puree in a blender until smooth. Force through a strainer into a bowl with a pouring spout. You may want to strain the mixture twice to get it extra smooth.
6. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it is completely cooled. Freeze it according to the instructions for your ice cream maker.

Creamy Caramel Sauce (from The Secrets of Bakingby Sherry Yard)

1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 T light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream, heated to 100 degrees
1/4 cup full fat sour cream
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt

1. Wash and dry your hands. Combine the water, 1 cup sugar, and corn syrup in a large saucepan. Stir them together with your fingers, making sure no lumps of dry sugar remain. Brush down the inside of the pan with a little water.
2. Cover the saucepan and place over medium heat for 4 minutes. Then, remove the lid, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Do not stir. The mixture should be very bubbly. When sugar crystals appear on the side of the pan, brush them down with a clean, wet pastry brush.
3. The bubbles should get larger as the sugar cooks. When the temperature reaches 300 degrees on an instant read thermometer, reduce heat to medium to slow the cooking process. Continue cooking until the caramel reaches 350 degrees, and then remove from the heat and let sit 1 minute, or until the bubbles have subsided.
4. Add the cream very carefully as it will bubble vigorously. Whisk to combine. Vigorously whisk in the sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. The sauce is tasty warm or cooled, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Our hosts for February had this to add:
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.

Be sure to check out all the other fabulous creations this month on the Daring Bakers Blogroll, linked to at the right.


  1. You had me at 'Pear and caramel'! Whaat a great pairing with the Valentino, and it looks so pretty too! I did something with pears with my dark-milk chocolate Valentino, but that'll be in a later blog entry :)

  2. Wow that looks beautiful. Pear, caramel & chocolate! What a great flavor combination!

  3. Right-on Sara! You said it Lisa, Pear and Caramel! Perfecto! Really beautiful!

  4. pear and caramel ice cream... yes, please!

  5. Beautiful...beautiful looking cake, I love the caramel dripping like that.

  6. A gorgeous combo! That ice cream must taste heavenly! Very well done!



  7. Pear, caramel and chocolate? Great pairing of flavors!

  8. Wow...that looks great! Pear caramel ice cream, great!

  9. Oh man, your cake looks great, but that ice cream and caramel sauce sounds to-die for!

  10. Sounds great with the caramel sauce :)

  11. wow!! thank you for the pear caramel recipe!!! i can't wait to try it :)

  12. That pear and caramel ice cream sounds absolutely delicious. I am so tempted to run to the store at this late hour and buy some pears just so I can make it tonight!!
    Also love the caramel sauce, mmm.
    Great Job!

  13. Stunning just stunning! Your cake and ice cream looks out of this world

  14. Love the ice cream pairing you used. Gotta check out that caramel sauce from Sherry Yard. Nice texture.

  15. WOW - pear-caramel ice cream sounds so amazing, and what a fabulous pairing with the chocolate cake! The caramel sauce looks so luscious too -- great job!

  16. The caramel sauce was a great idea, I think. I felt that the photo of my cake was a bit boring, and a sauce definitely would have jazzed it up a bit.

  17. Oooh! Your little cakes look so good with that ice cream and caramel sauce! I've been wanting to try the pear-caramel ice cream in David's book for a long time, but I can never seem to find nice pears when the mood strikes me. It looks divine!

  18. Oh, what a yummy combination. I never thought to match pear, caramel and chocolate but now I may have to try it!

  19. Pear and Caramel sound amazing!!!!

  20. What a great pair! Your cake looks as fabulous as the ice cream..

    Thanks anwyay for your visit and comment on my blog ! Appreciated!

  21. Pear ice cream sounds so refreshing. Great choice! I think I need to check out that book, The Perfect Scoop. Sounds like a book right up my alley! :-)

  22. What a great combination! You are going to love David's book - so many good ice creams. I have to try this one!

  23. Whoa! That caramel sauce looks insanely good!

  24. Love the way your caramel sauce hangs off the ice-cream. Just the way I like my sauce! :)

  25. Yum! I went with David Lebovitz too, and I haven't found a bad recipe in there yet. Your combination looks so good- great job, Sara!

  26. Great idea on combining the chocolate with pear!

  27. How interesting.. pear and caramel ice cream. I'm intrigued. Sounds delish. Love your presentation. I can never resist a goeey caramel sauce. Yum!

  28. The cakes look great, and that pear caramel ice cream sounds absolutely amazing!

  29. Lovely cake and this ice cream sounds fantastic!

  30. That last pic says it all. Fantastic.

  31. Uhhhhh Pear and caramel ice cream must be perfect with this cake!

  32. Pear ice cream sounds fabulous but when topped with caramel, ooh divine. I'm going to test this cake out again with milk chocolate I think, although I personally loved the bitterness dark chocolate lent it.

  33. pears are one of my favorite things to eat, now i must try them in ice cream. great job on the challenge!