I hate to start the blog like this, but it is what it is. The inauguration of sweet-lab.com will be accompanied by my menstrual cycle. I apologize and hope that doesn’t discourage anyone from continuing to read! I promise that I don’t go into any details, but just so you know I was sitting on my couch with cramps and knew that I needed something that involved solely one ingredient. How original by the way- a girl who craves chocolate during her menstrual cycle. I’ve never heard that before! Ever. So anyways, I knew that I had to whip up something decadent that involved chocolate along with ice-cream. Luckily, I have never been one of those people who finishes a whole tub of ice-cream in one sitting or even close, but I knew that a small serving would do wonders during the circumstances.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, I don’t mean to go into descriptive details about the scale of pain or the duration of my cramps, but just so you can have a vague idea (a very vague idea and understanding to be exact) the cramps weren’t extreme at all, or else I would’ve had to abort the mission and lay in fetal position. But no. This was a task I could handle.
I decided to create a chocolate/vanilla ice-cream sandwich. Let me restate as I did in the “about” page that most “experiments” (aka recipes) will follow a basic ratio. As Michael Ruhlman writes in his book Ratio, “A culinary ratio is a fixed proportion of one ingredient or ingredients relative to another. These proportions form the backbone of the craft of cooking. When you know the culinary ratio, it’s not like knowing a single recipe, it’s instantly a thousand.” I couldn’t have said it better and would like to take this opportunity to thank Ruhlman for writing such an informative book that is allowing me to explore and feel more freedom and security when it comes to baking. Ratio also brought focus to this blog. Furthermore, it encouraged me to think of what the main idea of this blog would be: to experiment and learn while baking and creating, while simultaneously following ratios. The ratio for a basic quick cake that is used for the ice-cream sandwich is: 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part butter. Knowing the basic ratio will allow you to break lose and be creative when it comes to adding flavors and ingredients to the quick cake, as long as you stay loyal to the ratio. So here it goes!
Actually, one last thing before I get into the core of the procedure. Remember that this is a lab and after all and I’m just a humble person acting like a scientist who is following the scientific method during an experiment (aka recipe). Therefore, don’t be surprised when you see scientific words such as “hypothesis”, “procedure”, “research question”, “materials”, etc.
Research Question: Will this chocolate-coffee vanilla ice-cream sandwich soothe me during this time of the month and will it be able to please others as well?
– Adding coffee to the chocolate batter will intensify the chocolate flavor.
– The combination of three different forms of chocolate used in this recipe will make the quick cake be chocolaty and delicious.
– Nutella + melted semi sweet chocolate + buttermilk + butter + not mixing excessively will = a very moist and soft cake.
8 oz flour (4 oz AP flour, 4 oz cake flour)
4 oz sugar (2 oz white sugar, 2 oz light brown sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
8 oz of liquid (4 oz of buttermilk, 4 oz coffee) –(note: try adding milk chocolate instead)
4 oz eggs (2 large eggs)
4 oz melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 oz of melted semi sweet chocolate (Ghirardelli)
2 oz of Nutella
2 oz chocolate chips/morsels
about 1/3 cup of sugar in the raw for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and making powder together into a bowl. In a different large bowl, combine the buttermilk, coffee, eggs, melted butter, vanilla, and whisk until the eggs are uniformly distributed. Be sure that when you add the coffee the liquid is cold or warm so that the eggs don’t become cooked. If you want to add the coffee hot, be sure to temper the eggs by slowly adding the coffee to the liquid mixture little by little so that the eggs don’t become scrambled eggs! Add the melted chocolate and Nutella to the wet ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour the batter into a loaf pan. Be sure to spray the loaf pan with spray. I put parchment paper along the sides to be extra secure of the cake not sticking to the sides or corners of the pan. I’m a bit paranoid though and I’m 98.9% sure that if you add the batter to a very well greased pan, the cake will not stick. 98.9% secure is not 100% though, and therefore it’s not good enough 🙂 The quick cake should bake for 40-50 minutes, until the blade of a knife or a toothpick has been inserted and comes out clean. After 35-40 minutes of baking, retrieve pan from oven to sprinkle sugar in the raw over the top of the cake and place pan back in the oven immediately afterwards. Continue baking for the remaining time required. Place quick cake on wire racks to cool evenly for at least 10 minutes. Slice the quick bread into slices of ¼”-1/2” in width.
Take vanilla ice-cream out of freezer and allow it to soften up a bit. Scoop the softened ice-cream onto the surface of one of the slices of quick bread and smoothen out evenly with a butter knife. Place another slice of quick bread over the ice-cream to create a quick cake sandwich. Sprinkle with powder sugar or any toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
All the cocoa butter from the chocolate chips, the semi-sweet chocolate, and the Nutella work together with the butter to make this cake to be moist in texture and chocolaty. The coffee really intensifies the chocolate flavor and there is a slight after taste of it, but not enough to make it be bothersome in my opinion, especially after it’s paired with the vanilla ice-cream. The chocolate chips that were added to the batter at the end add another dimension and texture to the chocolate batter. At first I added the granulated sugar at the very beginning of placing the cake in the oven, but that made the sugar dissolve into the surface of the batter. I think the sugar should be sprinkled over the top towards the end of the baking process so that the sugar granules don’t have that much time to dissolve. In other words, sprinkle the sugar over the top when the batter is still soft enough that the granules can stick to it and are therefore they’re able to form a delicious sugar crust on top. The difference of temperatures in this dessert is what truly makes it special for me- the warm and moist cake acts likes a shell that protects the cold ice-cream that-if left alone on the plate- will begin to naturally melt and ooze out of the sides. YES!!!
If you are a coffee-lover, this quick cake sandwich would also be delectable by using coffee ice-cream instead of vanilla. Or you could add chopped pistachios to the batter and use pistachio ice-cream for the filling instead. The possibilities and combinations are endless and you can certainly modify the ingredients to satisfy your cravings! But whatever flavors you desire to explore, remember to stay true to the ratio- 2:2:1:1.
I would recommend this recipe because for being a quick cake based recipe, its simplicity is elevated to a significant flavor when all the ingredients come into play, especially when the ice cream is sandwiched right in between. However, if I could go back, I would modify a few things. I would add less coffee to the batter, so that the coffee flavor and after taste is not as pronounced. That is a personal taste. However, if you enjoy coffee more than I do, don’t mess with the quantity and try it as is. I would replace the buttermilk, which falls under the liquid amount of the ratio, with chocolate milk to make the quick cake even more chocolaty. Why didn’t I do that in that in the first place? I clearly wasn’t thinking there. Nevertheless, this quick cake recipe is yummy and it did soothe me and a few others as well. I encourage you to try it! Don’t expect to be biting into a decadent brownie because that’s not the consistency of this recipe. We’ll leave that for another time.