A Flourless Chocolate Cake and Endless Possibilities

February has flown by and it’s time again for another Daring Bakers challenge. This time, we were asked to make a chocolate Valentino, which is essentially a flourless chocolate cake. Dense, fudgy and super moist flourless chocolate cake. We were given free range on this one except for one rule, we had to make an ice cream to go with it.

How could I settle on one dessert when the possibilities are endless?

I actually made the recipe twice because I really wanted to see what the batter would do while baking, how it would hold its shape and how much it would rise and deflate. I always think of the characteristics and structure of a recipe before I decide on how to bake it or plate it. I decided a sheet cake would be best and would allow me to build cakes or any other dessert best.

My ice cream of choice was pecan craquelin and vanilla bean ice cream. This cake is so moist, almost brownie-like, that I thought ice cream sandwiches would be perfect. I spread the softened ice cream on a frozen sheetpan, let it get hard again and cut it with the same square cookie cutters that I used to cut the cake.

I also baked some of the first batch of cake batter in some ramekins for a little souffle-type action.

I used the rest of the cake to build petits gateaux with layers of cardamom chocolate truffle mousse and almond nougatine crunch. I wrapped them in strips of tempered dark chocolate and made some tempered chocolate swirls.

Finally, thank you to this month’s hosts Wendy and Dharm and the words that I am required to mention for this challenge…

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.

Chocolate Valentino
adapted from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan

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

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.

While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
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).

With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

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}

Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C

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.

Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Salted Pecan Craquelin

80 grams pecan pieces
60 grams sugar
2 grams salt
20 grams water

Place the sugar, water and salt in a small saucepan and cook to 121C (around 250F). Add the chopped pecans and stir. Continue cooking over the heart until the nuts start to toast and the sugar turns to a caramel color.

Pour over a silpat and spread evenly and as thinly as possible. Let it cool completely.

Crush in a food processor and reserve in an airtight container.

Salted Pecan Craquelin Ice Cream

500 grams whole milk
130 grams heavy cream
40 grams glucose
150 grams sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped and seeded
160 grams egg yolks
pecan craquelin, crushed

Place the milk, heavy cream, glucose, half of the sugar and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar. Temper the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk to combine. Return custard to saucepan and cook for a couple of minutes until the base coats the back of the spoon or 84C.

Strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and let it cool over an ice bath. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, churn in ice cream machine and add the crushed craquelin at the end. Freeze.

Short but sweet. Have a great weekend!

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108 Responses to “A Flourless Chocolate Cake and Endless Possibilities”

  1. Vanille says:

    Aran, these ice cream sandwiches are so tempting !…
    Good week-end !

  2. Christy says:

    Another amazing creation, Aran! But those textured chocolate sheets, are those made of tempered chocolate or chocolate cake? Can you tell me where you got those textured sheets? Thanks Aran, you are always such an inspiration!

  3. Cakebrain says:

    Those ice cream sandwiches should be illegal! they look so decadent! Gorgeous shots. You always make food look beautiful!

  4. Lisa says:

    WOW – amazing! Talk about taking one of our simplest challenges to the max! BEAUTIFUL creations! I’m feeling so lazy now. :)

  5. Peter G says:

    A wonderful creation Aran! Those ice cream sandwiches are absolutely to die for.

  6. wow your creations are always a joy to look at and a pity to eat. I m drooling though so many delicious creations.

  7. glamah16 says:

    Everything in this post is brilliant form the plating/presenttion to the flavors of ice cream. Always an inspiration.

  8. Parsec says:

    Wow…those are spectacular photos! You really have talent…everything looks delicious!

  9. Tartelette says:

    A beauty for the eyes and the tastebuds!
    (Next time we should plan it :)…)

  10. Jayme says:

    I was just browsing Tartelette’s site and then came here and was like – wait, what? lol

    you two really are on the same wavelength! :)

    Your desserts look amazing – absolutely stunning!

  11. Once again, you have been sooooooooo creative !Can you give me a little bit of your genes ?

  12. aran says:

    Pero que es esto ? Se me hace la boca agua solo de verlo.Maravilloso.

  13. Katie says:

    Wow! They all look delicious and your photos and presentation is breathtaking.

  14. cookemila says:

    Aran por dios..no tenias suficiente con una…si contaras las babas por cada foto podriamos hacer unas cataratas…no en serio…no sacas un libro o algo asi? es para tenerte todo el rato y mirar y mirar….felicitaciones es incrible

  15. Nice presentation! I love all versions! You did a great job, once again! The picture are awesome, as always!



  16. Esti says:

    aran, tienes a mucha gente salivando!
    Los sandwiches de helado me encantan!

  17. idu says:

    Aran, zure imajinazioak ez du mugarik ezta? Itxura ezinobea dute denek! Gustora ikusiko nuke ba zulotxo batetik, nola lan egiten duzun, errezetaren prozesu osoan,,, majikoa zara Aran!

  18. Sha says:

    Love them! They seem so perfect!

  19. Sophie says:

    How lovely it all looks!!! Your icecream sandwiches look so tempting!!! Everything does!!! MMMMM…

  20. Aran says:

    Christy- the textured chocolate sheets are indeed tempered chocolate. I don’t remember where I got the sheets because I have had them for ages. I think they were part of a sample I got from a vendor once. If you go to jbprince.com, I’m sure they will have some like that.

    Thanks everyone. I haven’t had a chance to check your challenges. I’m off to do that now!

  21. Jennifer says:

    Each one is a work of art, so beautiful! You have a superb way of presenting food!! Thanks!!

  22. These all look so heavenly. Love the presentation of the ice cream sandwiches! YUM!

  23. Oustanding job Aran! Pecan craquelin? oh YUM!

  24. FeeMail says:

    I just thought about my most beloved word with “s”. And now I’m sure that it is sandwich. Ice cream sandwich to be exact… I love it.

  25. À défaut de goûter à ces merveilles, j’admire tes réalisations.

  26. Jen Yu says:

    I love how you and Helen give us such a wide array of interpretations on the challenges. It’s like having a little reference book for future ideas when I have parties :) Your creations are so lovely – always!

  27. jillian says:

    Beautiful interpretations of the challenge! Your ice cream sounds wonderful!

  28. Your creativity blows my mind. I love looking at your rendition of Daring Bakers each month. WOW.

  29. Great styling! You outdid yourself again!I love all the versions…

  30. Phoo-D says:

    I’m just in awe over your food styling and photos. Every image looks like it could be a magazine cover. And then to think you made the food too…wow.

  31. Amazing! You photography always impresses me, as well as your variety of products you produce so extravagantly from such a small concept. Bravo!

  32. veron says:

    I’ve loved ice cream sandwiches in like forever. Everything looks fabulous, Aran!

  33. Sere says:

    Whoa! Aran, you never fail to amaze us!

  34. Sugar Chef says:

    Wow!! You took the challenge to the max. I’m impressed and inspired. Love your ice cream & mousse flavors.

  35. I had to stop by, I had too. Couldn’t wait. The suspense would have killed me Aran. JUST OUT OF THIS WORLD…& I bet you know it. Gorgeous & elegant!

  36. Yum-O, your presentation is beautiful…and I love the fact you give us such a variey. As always impressive!

  37. Lauren says:

    Mmm, your cakes look beautiful!! I love all of the different variations =D.

  38. chef_d says:

    Oh so very pretty!! I can’t decide which one i like best!!

  39. jill elise says:

    your ice cream sandwiches are so beautiful! A lot more people used cardamom than I expected. Your photos are beautiful.

  40. anna says:

    Great idea to make ice cream sandwiches! I had a hard time stopping at two versions…I just couldn’t eat any more than that (and I still have leftovers in the freezer)! Your petits gateaux are incredibly gorgeous, too.

  41. wow, the design in this chocolates is incredible

  42. I’m so happy you didn’t feel compelled to choose just one thing! And with all four of these, it’s hard to know where to begin….perfect pairs all around.

  43. Chez US says:


    As always you have inspired me again – your pastries and photos are always so beautiful! I love the combination you came up with – fantastic flavors!

  44. Angela says:

    Beautiful, Aran! I love the ice cream sandwiches!

  45. Lesley says:

    Between you and Helene I’m ready to throw in the towel. MAN these are fabulous.

  46. sunita says:

    Aran, I’m swooning over your creations…each one is so exquisite :-)

  47. Astrid says:

    (Tips her hat) Who knew you could create such exquisite haute-couture pâtisserie with flourless chocolate cake!

  48. Aran, those all look absolutely fabulous! I’m kicking myself for not making ice cream sandwiches out of this one.

  49. Camille says:

    The ice cream sandwiches look heavenly! And, of course everything is on the spot marvelous!!

  50. cindy* says:

    aran! i was just looking for a peanut brittle recipe for…pb and chocolate ice cream cake…i think i will try out your craqueline.

    everything is just beautiful!

  51. You are such a wonderful over-achiever!

    Lovely work!

  52. Once again, Aran, over the top! Just beautiful. I wish I could taste them.

  53. Aran, these looks so good. You are a photographer that can make the most beautiful creations…out of chocolate!!!! You are my hero. xo

  54. Ch-ch-ch-ocolate!!!!
    I am going to make the entire dessert. I do have trouble getting my sheet chcolate to look as perfect as you have wrapped around the cake and the mousse. What is your secret? If I do mine directly onto the acetate, and then fill that with the cake, mousse, chill, and freeze, I am still bitting my lip and am still only at 50-50. That is, 50 look lovely, and 50% look flawed.
    Also, where ever did you get the adorable brown ramekins. I am a glass, dish, plate fiend and would love to know.
    Thanks so much, Aran!

  55. Ay Aran como lo haces dificil escojer mi preferido entre tantas esquisitises! Desde el helado, la vajilla que tienes, todo me encanta!

  56. Em says:

    Wow! They look AMAZING…
    And the pecan ice cream sounds really great!

  57. Anonymous says:

    Arantzazu: No puedo resistirme a la tentación….
    Me encanta lo que haces. ¿Eres consciente del placer que proporcionas?
    Mozu bat

  58. Sara says:

    Yum, everything you made looks so delicious! I love the idea of ice cream sandwiches, and that ice cream sounds terrific. Lovely photos!

  59. endless possibilities, and all of them beautiful!

  60. Pinky says:

    I always feel so shamed when I see your lovely take on a DB challenge. You exceed expectations again and again!

  61. your cakes, your photos and your ability to produce perfection and a piece of art on a plate take my breath away every time I open your page.:)
    simply stunning!:)))))

  62. X Chef says:

    This is the DB equivalent to Helen and Aran wearing the same gown to the ball. Great job ladies. Beautiful as always. Both of you are fantastic photographers as well.

  63. Anonymous says:

    I’m looking forward to trying your recipes. As always, the look amazing.

  64. holy crap….how do you keep getting better? every post you get better and you were already perfect! yeassshhhh. perfect, not a smudge, the curl is so geometrically perfect plato would have a hard time arguing that the perfect forms only exist in the upper realm! gaaaaaaaaaawhhhh. :)

  65. Kathleen says:

    are those for real?

    especially that round thing
    with the round thing on it.


  66. Arlette says:

    impressive work as usual
    I wish i can pick one to taste

  67. Pretty much the most gorgeous post I’ve seen.

  68. diva says:

    all i can is wow. my mouth is watering and these are just too beautiful. x

  69. Aran says:

    Valerie- as for how to wrap the cake, I do it after the cake is built and has set in the refrigerator. I temper chocolate and spread it on a strip and then wrap it around the cake. let it set. when using tempered chocolate, the strip will be shiny and “snap” when broken. great texture contrast to the creamy mousse.

    thanks everyone for your kind words!

  70. Ash says:

    I love the little cakes in the brown cups!! They look too cute. That chocolate waffer thing (if that’s what I can call it?) looks awesome!
    Love the photo’s!

  71. zorra says:

    Wow, you are so creative! The ice cream recipe is noted!

  72. HL says:

    Your creations are so inspiring and absolutely stunning :)

  73. I adore your ice cream sandwiches, Aran! Beautiful!

  74. Your blog is fantastic! I’m gonna add you to my links ok?


  75. Seanna Lea says:

    Wow. That is amazingly delicious (looking)! I’ll have to make something like that this summer for the ice cream party. I think everyone would go completely gaga!

    I just wanted to thank you for your macaron recipe and tips. I just made my first batch and they came out quite well!

  76. chefectomy says:

    Man I wished I lived next door to you! Stunning and delectable as always Aran!


  77. Beau, sans doute très bon et très professionnel…

  78. morgana says:

    Qué maravilla. De verdad que no deja de sorprenderme nunca la de partido que le puedes sacar a una receta tan sencilla como esta. Me quito el sombrero, el gorro de lana y lo que sea ante ti, de verdad. Si fuera adolescente, tendría un póster tuyo en mi habitación (que se quiten los actores de cine y los cantantes de rock).

  79. Yes, this challenge was full of endless possibilities! I love your choice of pecan craquelin ice cream. The sandwiches are absolutely tempting!

  80. Miri says:

    i just came across your blog, and i must say, you create beautiful creations!!
    i was only looking for a simple recepe for cupcakes, and here i am in a wonderland of deserts, i will definitely come back her to see what else you make!
    Thank you!

  81. It’s so funny just coming from Helen’s blog… you’ve both managed to make amazing recipes and the photos… are just gorgeous!

  82. Oh my! I love flourless chocolate cake and your pairings with it are just fabulous!

  83. Aran, what an amazing take on such a simple dessert. The level of artistry in your presentation always blows me away.

  84. Another amazing creation Aran! Could you please share your talent to me.. just a tinyyyy bit.

    Simply stunning.

  85. Elle says:

    Elegant, inventive, and beautiful variations on the Valentino and ice cream theme…just lovely!

  86. wow, it’s sounds wonderful. compliments

  87. Julie says:

    I love when you post petits gateaux–they satisfy every craving–something sweet, crunchy, creamy, cakey–a perfect bite! Wonderful job with ths month’s challenge!

  88. Inés says:

    Aran, benetan te superas un día sí y otro también.Es una pasada. Si tu abuelo Angel levantara la cabeza…pues creo que bajaría inmediatemente de su cielo al tuyo. Un beso eta eskerrik asko.

  89. Aran says:

    Ines- si empiezo a hacer psicoanalisis, en el fondo fondo, lo unico que busco con este blog es el aprecio de mi familia. me hace sentirme mas cercana a aquellas cosas que son familiares, a los olores, a los sabores… nada me haria mas feliz que un dia trabajando con mi aitite. puf, seria lo mejor de mi vida. Eskerrik asko!

    Thanks so much everyone!

  90. Zahra says:

    Wow! Your creativity never ceases to amaze me! I mean me? I would just bake the cake and dollop some icecream on to the side. but no….you have to go all fancy ;)

    Im envious of your talent.

    and your family who gets to eat the talent! LOL

  91. Anonymous says:

    Arantzazu: Aitite estaría feliz a tu lado.
    Y déjate de psicoanálisis, que los que apreciamos lo que haces te queremos.
    Lo que tienes que hacer es preparar “unos de éstos” cuando vengas a Euskadi.

  92. Aran says:

    Bego- a ver si vamos enseguida! tu siempre sabes como sacarme la lagrima eh?

  93. Aran – this looks simply gorgeous. You’re just brilliant!

  94. creampuff says:

    Aran, you’re a marvel. I’d eat everything here and be in total bliss!

  95. Y says:

    Mmm delicious! I’ll have one of each please :)

    I thought of ice cream sandwiches too, but somehow ended up with ice cream cones..!? :D

  96. Tammy says:

    That is just amazing! You are so inspiring!!

  97. Jo says:

    Beautifully executed and definitely the work of a pro. Love the photos and your presentation of the challenge.

  98. Sarah Jane says:

    These are so beautiful I could cry. I could eat them, too, though. I see why you won for best photography.

  99. Jennifer says:

    These little gems are beyond perfection! I love how creative you were with them!! Endless ideas!!

  100. Maureen says:

    I visit your blog often for inspiration in cooking, photography and well.. blogging. You’re one class act.

    Now about these ice cream sandwiches – a dozen to go please. :)

    I have to make these soon as I have a big craving!

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