Ever other Sunday, my friends Kendall & Bob from Ohio have a big pot luck dinner party and anyone and everyone is welcome. The day before each dinner I would ask Kendall what I could bring and she would inevitably reply “Whatever you feel like…you’re the chef, you should know!” which made me want to tug on her flowing blond locks and yell “I am not a chef, just tell me what to make! Don't make me think!”
So after some not so subtle suggestions on my part, these dinners now have themes. Careful what you wish for…..last weeks’ was Mexican. Ay caramba, what am I going to make? I am a disgrace to my home state and my profession as I can’t make a mole sauce to save my life, that and the fact that I would kill for a Chevy’s fajita right about now. But seeing as I am in Paris and Chevy’s is not, I will have to make do.
I have been begging my friend Jackie to teach me her mother’s mole recipe but that hasn’t happened yet. I did however remembered reading about a chocolate chili cake here so i thought i would give that a go. It is basically the standard recipe for flourless chocolate cake with some chili powder thrown in and even I, the most pastry-inept person alive, can swing that with minimal trepidation.
I trekked around town buying the chocolate, eggs, chili powder (that took 4 stores to find! last stop was a little greek traiteur at the end of rue Mouffetard) and silicon baking sheets. Just as I was about to hunker down in the kitchen I received a texto from my friend Samantha who was also going to the dinner. It read: Question: If I covered chocolate cup cakes with dark chocolate then sprinkled with flecks of chili would that work?
AAAK! She read my mind! The one Mexcian thing I could make and she went and stole my thunder. Now what am I going to do!? I spied my ice cream machine paddle drying on the dish rack and I thought “Pourquoi pas (why not)?” Chocolate chili ice cream!
So I tucked into my crème anglaise recipe, melted the chocolate, added a few tablespoons of hot chili powder, added it to the ice cream machine and let’er rip! I had about a cup of ice cream mix left over so I went ahead and made the chocolate chili cake recipe anyways and added the ice cream mixture to the cake batter! I added a few extra teaspoons of flour to the mix to compensate for the additional cream, threw it in the oven and prayed to the chocolate chili gods.
Sam used real chilies on her mini-cakes (pictured above left) and yowza, they were hot, delicious but hot, and she used just a tiny sprinkling of peppers. My little bites surprisingly turned out ok, especially considering it was more science experiment than cuisine. They were very moist with a very subtle layering of chili flavor that came in at the end of the palate. Same for the ice cream, very creamy with a smooth understated pepper that kicks in at the end. Pas mal (not bad) as they say here, because as I’ve mentioned, they, not all but most, would rather die than pay a complement... So here are both the recipes...Feliz Cocinar!
Chocolate Chili Ice Cream
I make the standard vanilla ice cream base but I used half a vanilla bean and I have cut the number of eggs down to 4 or 5 on the recommendation of Bay Area Expat-Pastry Chef-Chocolate Guru Extraordinaire David Lebovitz.
500 ml (approx 18 oz) milk
500 ml (approx 18 oz) cream
4-5 egg yolks
200 g (approx 7 oz) sugar
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped, all put into pot
200 g dark chocolate (75-85% cacao preferably)
2-3 tablespoons chili powder (depending on your taste)
1. Put milk, cream, chocolate and vanilla bean into a cold pot and place it on the stove.
2. Bring this mixture to a boil slowly, stirring to melt the chocolate, and then remove from heat. Set aside and let cool.
3. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a non-reactive bowl until it is pale yellow. this is called “blanchir” or to whiten.
4. Slowly add the chocolate mixture to the yolks/sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
5. Pour this mixture back into the pot and return to the stove top. Cook over medium heat while stirring constantly, making sure you scrape the inside corners of the pot.
6. Add the chili powder a little at a time. combine thoroughly and taste each time.
7. The mixture is ready when it is “nappant” or naps the back of the spoon. Run your finger down the back of a spoon and if the mixture doesn’t fill in, it is ready.
8. Strain through a chinois (fine strainer) into a bowl set over another bowl of ice. Stir the mixture - this will cool it down quickly.
9. When the mixture is room temp, add it to the ice cream machine and let’er rip!
Chocolate Chili Cream Bites
200g butter (i use demi-sel butter here)
200g chocolate (i used the 75 or 85% cacao, can’t find the box, sorry)
200g sugar (i cut back on the sugar since i was putting the ice cream base in)
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons chili powder (depending on how hot you want it)
.....and the kicker.....
¼ recipe of chocolate-chili ice cream base (!!!)
1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C (400°F).
2. Melt butter and chocolate together in a bain marie
3. Add sugar and mix completely with a whisk
4. Add eggs one at a time, combining thoroughly with a whisk
5. Add flour and combine
6. Add chili powder in small increments, blending thoroughly with each addition and tasting.
7. Stir in the ice cream base
8. Say a quick prayer to the chocolate chili gods…..then
9. Pour into molds (silicon molds work great here!) and bake for 10-15 minutes depending on size of molds and oven. (i used both a small bite-sized mold and a larger cupcake sized one which of course took longer to cook)