Place sugar and 2/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in espresso and Kahlua. Let the syrup cool. Using a serrated knife, cut the vanilla sponge cake in half horizontally, making 2 layers. Place 1 layer in the bottom of a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan. Using a pastry brush, brush with 3/4 cup cooled syrup. Sift 2 tablespoons ground espresso over cake. Place espresso ice cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until spreadable. Spread ice cream over cake; top with second layer of sponge cake. Brush with remaining syrup. Transfer cake to freezer for 20 minutes. Remove cake from freezer; sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons ground espresso. Place coffee ice cream in a mixer bowl; beat on low speed until spreadable. Spread ice cream over cake, forming large swirls. Return to freezer; freeze until completely hardened. To serve, garnish with chocolate curls.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch-square baking pan. Line pan with parchment paper, and butter again. Flour the pan, and set aside. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks, vanilla, and 1/2 cup sugar on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Transfer the egg-yolk mixture to a large bowl. Wash and dry the mixer bowl and the whisk attachment. Combine the egg whites and salt in the mixer bowl, and beat on medium speed until whites hold soft peaks, about 1 1/2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture is stiff and glossy, about 1 minute. Fold the egg-white mixture into the egg-yolk mixture. In 3 additions, fold the reserved flour mixture into the egg-yolk mixture. Transfer the batter to the pan, and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool; turn out the cake, and store it in plastic wrap until ready to use. Yield: 1 (9-inch) square cake Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours Ease of preparation: intermediate
Set a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler over a pan of barely simmering water. Melt chocolate and shortening in bowl, stirring occasionally. Divide chocolate mixture between 2 (11 by 17-inch) baking pans; spread evenly with an offset spatula. Chill until your finger makes a mark, but not a hole, when touching the chocolate. Remove pans from refrigerator. Hold a sturdy metal pancake spatula at a 45-degree angle to pan; scrape away from you, forming curls. If chocolate is too brittle, quickly wave pan over the top of a warm stove. If too soft, briefly return to refrigerator. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Yield: 8 ounces
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