Sunday, January 29, 2012
Since I used a cheater's version of ganache in my cookie recipe post last week, I thought I'd do a post about this lovely substance.
Ganache is one of the basic building blocks in the dessert world. It is a versatile ingredient that can elevate a mundane offering into a sought after delicacy. Plus it is just plain fun to say, GA-NOSH!
You can use ganache as a frosting on cookies or a filling in cakes or garnish on pies. Ganache can also be used as a basic jumping off point for making fudge or truffles...just add sugar, flavoring, extra butter and anything else you want to create your own signature dessert. I like to drizzle it into batch of vanilla ice cream when it is almost finished churning to make stracciatella.
So what is Ganache? Ganache is basically scalded cream pour over chopped chocolate, that is then beaten into a smooth consistency. Without further ado, here is my go-to recipe for ganache...
1/2 pint heavy cream
2 T unsalted butter
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
Place a double boiler over medium heat and add the cream and butter, slowly bring it to a simmer. While you are waiting for the cream mixture to simmer, chop up the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl. When the cream begins to boil turn off heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 or 6 minutes to give the chocolate time to melt, then beat the mixture by hand until you have a smooth and slightly glossy ganache with no streaks or chunks.
Any unused ganache can be kept in an airtight container for up to a month in the fridge. To re-melt, place container in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring in between each interval until fully melted.
See, that was easy wasn't it? Here is a link to my recipe for Double Chocolate S'more Brownies which have a wonderful layer of ganache in them...
Here is a more advanced ganache recipe from the "ganache guru" Marcel Desaulniers of The Trellis restaurant in Williamsburg, VA, and host of the PBS show "Death By Chocolate".
Chocolate Caramel Ganache
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Place the chopped semisweet and unsweetened chocolate in a 4-quart bowl. Set aside.
In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, combine the heavy cream and butter over moderate heat and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to keep the cream hot but not simmering, until needed.
In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugar and the lemon juice. Whisk to combine; the sugar will resemble moist sand. Caramelize the sugar for 7 to 8 minutes over moderately-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk to break up any lumps. The sugar will become clear as it liquefies, then it will brown as it caramelizes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Carefully pour about 1/3 of the hot cream into the caramelized sugar. Whisk the caramel until it stops bubbling, then whisk in the remaining cream until smooth. Immediately pour the hot caramel over the chopped chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until very smooth. Serve immediately.
This Easter try using one these recipes to make your own chocolate eggs...in real egg shells! I got this idea while thinking about this post and thinking about my mom. My mother LOVES ganache and uses it every chance she gets. She also LOVES to hollow out chicken eggs for dying at Easter, instead of hard boiling them first and then dying, because then you can store the hollow eggs and reuse them year after year.
This method involves a little bit of work but the end result is an impressive dessert that you can serve as a grown up treat or as a child's Easter basket goodie that will surprise everyone.
*For Becca R...this shot makes me think of "towel tests" from Zone System class for some reason, I'm pretty proud of my blacks, whites, and mid-ranges in this. Do you think photo majors these days even KNOW what a densitometer is?!?*
Chocolate Easter Eggs
Half dozen white chicken eggs
Egg dye or paints or markers
1 pin, aul, or thumb tack
1 batch of ganache
Dye the uncooked eggs as you would a regular Easter egg*. Let them dry thoroughly. Once the dye is completely dry take your sharp pointy object (pin, aul, or thumb tack) and carefully create holes in the tops and bottoms of the eggs. Make holes large enough for a small pastry bag tip to fit into them.
Use a long T-pin or straight pin to slightly scramble the yolk. Then blow out the inside of the egg. To do this place a bowl in front of you, hold the egg over the bowl with one hole pointing up at you and the other hole pointing down towards the bowl. Put you lips to the upper hole and carefully blow until all the yolk and whites have been blown into the bowl. Repeat with all the eggs. You can then save the egg whites/yolks for another recipe or to make scrambled eggs.
Run very hot water through each hollow eggshell until the water runs clear and no more egg white/yolk runs out. Place the hollow eggs on a silpat covered baking sheet and bake in a 350F oven for 10 to 12 minutes to kill any bacteria that may be lingering inside the shells. Remove tray from oven and allow the eggshells to cool completely.
While the eggshells are cooling prepare your ganache. While the ganache is still very warm pour it into a pastry bag fitted with a small straight tip.
Once the eggshells are completely cooled place one sticker on each of the bottom holes of the eggs then place them in an egg carton to hold them upright.
Place the tip of the pastry bag into each of the top holes and fill the eggs. As you fill the eggs, gentle tap the egg carton up and down on the counter to release and air bubbles that might be inside so that you can fill the eggs up to the top and have as few voids as possible. Once all the eggs are filled place the remaining stickers over the top holes and then place the eggs in the refrigerator or freezer over night.
Remove the eggs from the fridge at least 2 hours before serving so they warm up to room temperature. Cut off the top of each egg and allow your guests to eat the ganache with a small spoon like they would a soft boiled egg.
*If you do not want to dye the eggs you could skip this step and once the eggs are filled you can use markers or paint to decorate the outside of the egg. Also, DO NOT put glitter or glitter glue on the outside of the eggs, it will get in the chocolate and give it an unpleasant gritty texture. I used sharpies to do some simple Valentine's day motifs on my test batch.
Try adding layers of caramel or whisking in some flavored extract to the ganache to individualize the eggs.