Saturday, January 24, 2009

TGRWT #14 - Flourless Soy Sauce/Chocolate Mini-cakes with Malted Milk Ice Cream

"TGRWT (They Go Really Well Together) is a monthly open invitation to come up with dishes that combine certain given ingredients that are supposed to match well. The hypothesis is that foods containing one or more common major volatile compound will work well in combination. The result of this might thus be a range of new and, sometimes unlikely, good combinations of ingredients."

I read about TGRWT on Khymos, learning that this round (#14) is hosted by Rob Connoley of The Curious Blogquat, and that this month's flavor pairing challenge is Malt and Soy Sauce, described in the post The Curious Blogquat: TGRWT #14: Malt & Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is mostly associated with Asian flavors, but I thought it's rich saltiness might go well with bittersweet chocolate, which would in turn go well with malted milk, which would in turn (based on the TGRWT hypothesis) go well with soy sauce. I had a variety of ideas, from soy chocolate ganache truffles rolled in malted milk powder, to malted milk buttercream or maybe icing on chocolate soy sauce cupcakes, to soy sauce tuile and malted milk ice cream or soy sauce malted milk ball brittle, but after weeks of brainstorming I landed on this:

Flourless Soy Sauce/Chocolate Mini-cakes with Malted Milk Ice Cream

Wheat is the first ingredient in the Carnation Malted Milk Powder we bought, as well as the first ingredient (after water) in the Kikkoman soy sauce - providing a clear connection between these ingredients.

Flourless Soy Sauce/Chocolate Mini-cakes
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 eggs
1/8 cup granulated white sugar

Put soy sauce in a small pot and bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium, simmering until the volume has reduced to 1/3 cup. Preheat over to 325 degrees F. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter pieces until smooth. Add soy sauce to chocolate mixture. Put a kettle of water on to boil. Combine eggs and sugar in a mixer and whisk on high until it becomes frothy and doubles in volume. Fold egg mixture into soy/chocolate mixture, 1/3 at a time, using a rubber spatula. Ladle batter into 12 silicone or aluminum cupcake pan liners. Set the cupcake pan into a roasting pan, and place in the center rack of the oven. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan, until water level rises 3/4 of the way up the cupcake pan. Bake 30-35 minutes. Remove cupcake pan from roasting pan and allow to cool at least 1 hour.

Malted Milk Ice Cream
4 egg yolks
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup malted milk powder

Combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk until light yellow and the sugar is dissolved. It will come close to doubling in volume. Heat the milk and cream in a large pot over medium heat. Add malted milk powder and whisk to combine. Once the mixture begins to steam, remove it from the heat. Add a scant ladle of hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking quickly to combine. Repeat until the egg mixture reaches a comparable temperature to the milk mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the milk mixture, and return to the heat. Stir while heating gently to 180 degrees F. Remove the mixture from heat immediately, sieve into a stainless bowl and place in an ice bath. Chill well. Place chilled mixture in an ice cream maker for 20 minutes, then remove to freezer to set.

The verdict?
My husband Dan & I both tried the cake and ice cream, taking a bit of both in each bite. The soy sauce odor from the cupcakes was intense, which worried us both. The first sensation in the mouth was the cold of the ice cream, with it's sweet malty flavor, then the umami saltiness of the soy sauce came through powerfully as the ice cream warmed and melted, followed by a slight bittersweet chocolate flavor as the soy retreated (a bit), finishing with a sensation I can only describe as akin to numbness on the lips from the residual salt and glutamate. The cake was intensely soy sauce flavored, but was nearly balanced by the sweetness of the malt ice cream. The ice cream alone was very malty in both smell and flavor, with a distinct barley note that Dan identified. A bite of cake alone was overpoweringly salty, but with the malt ice cream, it was buffered.

We both nearly cleaned our plates, but don't think we could've eaten any more of the cake. Dan left his last bite of cake behind, as he ran out of ice cream to balance it.

I liked the smoky, umami-ness of the cake, but the amount of salt was simply too great - flooding our mouths and disguising the other flavors. I also associate soy sauce with fish so much that I had a hard time not describing the cake as fishy. We both agreed that there was just too much salt, and thought a low-salt soy sauce, or maybe simply less soy sauce, would be an improvement, allowing the chocolate to come through more.


Joe said...

It's good to know that I wasn't the only person surprised by how salty soy sauce really is when used out of it's "genre."

what's cookin', good lookin'? said...

I definitely underestimated the power of soy sauce. Man! My silicone baking cups still smell like soy, after being washed. I may have to soak them. And silly me, I thought I needed to reduce it to make sure the flavor would be identifiable in the cake.

That ahi looks delicious. Nice work!