Yes, I realize I’m late on this post. REAL late. Wish I had a good excuse, too. I could have been on vacation – relaxing at the beach, hiking in the mountains…or I could have been at IFBC like so many of my food blogger friends. But alas, that wasn’t the case. Where was I? Oh, just going about everyday life, and somehow, had it in my head that the challenge was due on the first of September, and not August 27.
What made it even worse? I waited until the last minute to make these. I didn’t even start until after August 27. So I’m not sure if I get to actually “count” this for this month or not. No matter, I still wanted to attempt the challenge – so I forged ahead and made ice cream petit fours – and made them gluten-free, dairy-free, and for the most part, refined sugar-free.
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”.
When I first read this challenge, it took a minute to figure out how I would approach it. Sure, I can do gluten-free pound cake – no problem. Dairy-free ice cream? Done that. But we were supposed to make a browned butter pound cake. Make browned butter without butter? How does one accomplish that? I contemplated scrapping the whole idea and making another type of pound cake, but that really wouldn’t be in the spirit of the challenge. So I started this challenge with an experiment – browned vegan butter.
For those occasions when I simply must have a buttery taste to my food, I use Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread. I prefer to use whole, natural fats for my baking and cooking, but for this challenge, I wondered if this buttery spread could be “browned”. So I attempted it. I started by scooping out the required amount of “butter” and placing it in a skillet to “brown”. What ultimately resulted wasn’t really browned butter – it was melted and separated vegan butter.
However, if I left the solids in the pan and only used the liquid “butter”, it tasted nice and buttery. So I went with the flow, and used that melted “butter” for my recipe in the pound cake. It was a successful decision, because the pound cake baked well and had a lovely flavor. Paired with the vanilla-honey-date ice cream, it was a match made in heaven.
Layering the cake and ice cream proved to be easier than I imagined as well. Once I finished that piece of the preparation, I was starting to truly become excited about the challenge.
However, the chocolate glazing didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. I made sure my chocolate glaze was no longer hot (in fact, it was barely warm), but it still managed to melt the ice cream as I was glazing. Also, it wasn’t as smooth and “glazed” as I’d hoped. However, my final brushing of the chocolate on the top and decorations made the petit fours look a little more composed and pretty.
The verdict? These were quite tasty! I think that I would like to try petit fours again, but next time, either make them entirely out of ice cream, or make non-frozen ones with cake. While I loved the pound cake flavor, when it was frozen, I wasn’t as happy with the texture. Also, it seemed that the chocolate glaze hid some of the wonderful flavors the cake and ice cream brought to the treat.
All in all, I still had a lot of fun making these! A big thanks to Elissa for this challenge!
Vanilla-Honey-Date Vegan Ice Cream
3 c coconut milk, refrigerated until cold (overnight is best)
3/4 c pitted dates
pinch of salt
1/2 c honey
1/2 T cognac
2 T vanilla extract
1 dropper full of stevia (optional, sweeten to desired level of sweetness)
Combine ingredients in a blender. Blend until dates are finely chopped and everything is well-blended. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Line an 8X8 inch baking pan with plastic wrap, leaving some plastic wrap hanging over the sides. Spread 1 3/4 to 2 cups of the ice cream in an even layer into the bottom of the pan. Freeze until firm.
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Browned “Butter” Pound Cake
19 T vegan butter, such as Earth Balance buttery spread
1 c sweet white rice flour
1 c tapioca starch
1 t xanthan gum
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2/3 c coconut sugar or sucanat
2 T blackstrap molasses
4 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and put a rack in the center. Grease and “flour” an 8X8 inch baking pan. (I used sweet white rice flour to “flour” the pan.)
Place vegan butter in a large skillet and heat at medium heat. Stir until fully melted. Leaving the solids behind, pour melted “butter” into a bowl and place in freezer for 15-30 minutes or until congealed.
Whisk together rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.
Beat the “butter”, sugars, and molasses in an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to smooth the batter out to the edges. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Chocolate Glaze (don’t make until you’re ready to assemble the petit fours)
1 – 1 1/2 c coconut milk
1 t agave nectar
9 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 t vanilla extract
Place the coconut milk and agave nectar in a small saucepan and heat just until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and add the chocolate, allowing it to sit, undisturbed, for a minute. Stir chocolate until it melts completely, and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow the chocolate to cool before glazing petit fours.
Once the cake has completely cooled, level the cake using a cake leveler or a knife, and cut the cake horizontally into two thin layers.
Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out the ice cream onto one of the layers of cake, and then top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to freezer overnight.
Make the chocolate glaze.
While the glaze cools, remove cake from freezer and take off the plastic wrap. Trim about 3/4″ off of each side of the cake. Cut the cake into 25 equal squares, about 1.5″ X 1.5″ each.
Glaze the petit fours one at a time by placing the petit four on a fork and dipping it into the chocolate glaze. (I found that using a pastry brush helped to coat each petit four.) Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for an hour.
Remove from freezer and decorate as you choose. I used candied ginger, toasted coconut flakes, turbinado sugar, and squiggles of icing. Return to freezer to firm up a bit.
These should be eaten relatively soon after making. I froze them overnight and served them the next day without issue, but the cake will start to dry out if you try to store them for longer.