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Daring Bakers Challenge: Ice Cream Petit Fours

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”.

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I was so excited to hear that this month’s challenge involved whipping up a batch of my favorite homemade ice cream again.  And as if they were reading my mind, we were additionally challenged to make a brown butter cake to go along with it.

Now, I’ve eaten browned butter before, but I’ve never actually made up a batch of it myself.  All I have to say to that is “Why the heck didn’t I  try this out sooner?”  I’m telling ya, that brown butter was the best smelling, best tasting stuff I think I’ve ever put my mouth on.  The flavor was so complex and delicious.  The subtle taste of carmel and nuts that it infused into the cake nearly sent my tastebuds over the edge.  And the smell!  My whole house smelled like a big ol’ sweet nut.  You know those german roasted nut stands that you catch a whiff of when you walk by them at the mall?  They’re the ones that make your stomach instantly jump and start begging for just one (ok maybe two) handful of the sugared roasted goodness?  Yep, that’s what it did to my kitchen.  Sheer heaven.  And to top it off, my first cake flopped because I pulled it out before it was done (bad mommy) so I had to take a second go at it and make another brown butter cake (bummer! No, not really).

This has been a pretty busy month for me, so I opted for an ice cream that I have already done and love, love love.  I put together a batch of homemade pistachio.  I figured the nutty flavor of the cake would compliment the pistachio well.  I’m not going to rehash that whole recipe today as it’s already on the blog from last month’s challenge.  You can find it HERE. We’ll focus mainly on the brown butter cake and the assembly of these beautiful little petit fours.

Assuming you’ve already put together the ice cream flavor of your choice, the first thing you’ll want to do is grab it out of the freezer and give it a good 5 to 10 minutes to soften up a touch.  Once it’s softened, you’ll grab a 9×9″ pan, line it with plastic wrap, and spread about 2″ worth of it over the bottom of the pan.  Cover it up with plastic wrap and throw it back in the freezer to re-harden for a few hours before assembling your petit fours.

Now we’ll get started on the cake baking.

19 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter
2 Cups of Sifted Cake Flour
1 tsp of Baking Powder
1/2 tsp of Salt
1/2 Cup of Packed Light Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup of Granulated Sugar
4 Large Eggs
1/2 tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract

First up, you’ll want to preheat your oven to 325 degrees and grease and flour up a 9×9″ pan.

Next you’ll drop your butter into a medium sized skillet and let it cook up on medium heat.  It will take about 5 to 7 minutes for your butter to brown up.  Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.  You want the milk solids to be a golden brown and smell so good you practically want to drink the pan of butter right then and there.  Now transfer it to a container and pop it in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes until the butter is just starting to congeal.  Here’s my butter sequence.

Starting to melt….

Cooking up on medium heat…

And browned and ready to be placed into the freezer.

You can see that browned goodness settled on the bottom of the container.  Yummmm.

Once your butter is sufficiently cooled, pull it out of the freezer and add it to your brown and white sugars.  Whip it all together for a couple minutes in your mixer.

Now, go ahead and add in your vanilla and your eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.

Finally add in your flour mixture and mix it on low speed until just combined.

Scoop your batter into the greased pan you prepared and place it in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

If the center is still a bit jiggly, leave it in for a few more minutes!  The cake is really buttery, so your toothpick may still come out clean even though more cooking time is needed.  This was my issue the first time.  I had a feeling it wasn’t done, but the toothpick came out clean so I went with it.  The second time I left it in for another 5 minutes and it came out perfectly cooked.  Here’s mine fresh out of the oven.

Let the cake cool completely and then slice it horizontally to make two separate layers.  I did this with a serrated knife and then slid a cutting board between the layers to separate them.

Pull the top layer off, bring out your ice cream layer from the freezer and lay that on top.  Now place the top of the cake back onto the top.  Isn’t it pretty already?

It didn’t mention it in the directions, but I gave it a couple minutes for the ice cream to soften up around the edges and meld a bit better with the cake.

Your next step is to cut the edges off in order to form a nice squared edge.

Do this all the way around and then cut your cake into bite sized squares.  I was able to get about 20 petit fours out of mine.

I also need to mention that I didn’t have a 9×9″ pan so I used an 8×8″ instead.  The result was that my petit fours were more like towers than squares.  And to top it off, I somehow managed to cut a good bunch of them at an angle.  It was at this point that I decided I was no longer making petit fours, but little edible leaning towers of pisa.  Have no fear, despite their “unique” shape, they still tasted delicious.

Once they’re cut up, we’re going to dip them in a delicious chocolate glaze.  To make this you’ll need:

First up, bring your heavy cream and agave nectar to a boil.  Once the cream is boiling, turn off the heat and add in your chopped up chocolate.

Let the chocolate fully melt in and then stir in your vanilla.

Let your chocolate cool down until it is just tepid.  Then grab a fork, place a petit four on it, and spoon the chocolate over the top to cover it.

Once it’s covered, set it down a tray lined with parchment paper.  Put the tray of completed petit fours in the freezer and let them chill for at least one hour.

Feel free to decorate them up any way you see fit. I simply sprinkled a few candy dots on top to add a bit of a color splash.

And that’s all there is to it! You are now ready to indulge in one of the best little cake and ice cream delicacies this side of the Mississippi.  Mine might not have been the most beautiful petit fours on the block, but they were definitely the tastiest!

A special thanks again to Elissa and Jen for putting together such a wonderful challenge to honor the end of summer!

Ice Cream Petit Fours

Ingredients:

For the Browned Butter Cake:

19 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter
2 Cups of Sifted Cake Flour
1 tsp of Baking Powder
1/2 tsp of Salt
1/2 Cup of Packed Light Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup of Granulated Sugar
4 Large Eggs
1/2 tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract

For the Chocolate Glaze:

9 Oz. of Dark Chocolate, Finely Chopped
1 Cup of Heavy Cream
1 1/2 Tbsp of Agave Nectar
2 tsp of Vanilla Extract

Directions:

First up, you'll want to preheat your oven to 325 degrees and grease and flour up a 9x9" pan

Next you'll drop your butter into a medium sized skillet and let it cook up on medium heat. It will take about 5 to 7 minutes for your butter to brown up.

Transfer it to a container and pop it in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes until the butter is just starting to congeal.

Once your butter is sufficiently cooled, pull it out of the freezer and add it to your brown and white sugars. Whip it all together for a couple minutes in your mixer.

Now, go ahead and add in your vanilla and your eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.

Finally add in your flour mixture and mix it on low speed until just combined.

Scoop your batter into the greased pan you prepared and place it in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

Let the cake cool completely and then slice it horizontally to make two separate layers.

Pull the top layer off, bring out your ice cream layer from the freezer and lay that on top. Place the top of the cake back onto the top.

Your next step is to cut the edges off in order to form a nice squared edge.

Do this all the way around and then cut your cake into bite sized squares.

For the glaze: bring your heavy cream and agave nectar to a boil.

Once the cream is boiling, turn off the heat and add in your chopped up chocolate.

Let the chocolate fully melt in and then stir in your vanilla.

Let your chocolate cool down until it is just tepid. Then grab a fork, place a petit four on it, and spoon the chocolate over the top to cover it.

Once it's covered, set it down a tray lined with parchment paper. Put the tray of completed petit fours in the freezer and let them chill for at least one hour.
Feel free to decorate them up any way you see fit. I simply sprinkled a few candy dots on top to add a bit of a color splash.