Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Extra Brute: A Very Simple Chocolate Ganache Recipe

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Recipes are worthless without great ingredients.  Ganache, for example, would be a nasty thing made with Hershey bars.  BLECH.

My favorite scarfing chocolate will always be Lindt Bittersweet.  My grandmother kept a not so secret stash when I was a kid.  Back in the day, it was a German thing.  Now I can buy it at my local  grocery store.  I haven't decided yet whether having easy access to my nostalgic childhood treats at the local Super Saver is a good thing.  I'm thinking no.

At the shop, I buy cases of bittersweet chocolate.  One bar weighs eleven pounds. ELEVEN POUNDS!  Can you imagine being a kid a coming across an eleven pound chocolate bar?  How about a stack of eleven pound chocolate bars?  I'm inordinately proud of myself for not leaving teeth marks in every one.  But when I'm weighing out chocolate for a recipe, it's always an ounce or two off.  "Oopsy daisy.  Accidentally dropped a fist sized chunk of chocolate into my pie hole."

It took me a while to land on the right chocolate for baking.  I needed something that would work with all of my chocolate recipes and make for decent snacking.  Bless my poor little heart, I had to go through a lot of tasting before I landed on the right one.

It was a toss up Valrhona and Callebaut.  Valrhona is a luscious thing.  It's smooth and elegant, with a fruity finish. Callebaut, on the other hand, is slick and macho.  It's a full court press of cocoa butter.  No fruit finish, just deep
chocolate with coffee undertones.  It even says "Extra Brute" on the bag of Callebaut cocoa powder, just to slam the point home.  I chose Callebaut. Girls, they never go for the nice guy.

Ganache is chocolate cut with cream.  It's liquid truffle, quite literally.  If you let ganache set, take a melon scoop and make a perfect round of chocolate.  Roll it in cocoa powder.  Voila.  The best truffle ever and you made it yourself.

Left soft and warm, ganache is a deadly filling and coating for cakes.  If you find it too thick, add a bit more cream to get the consistency you prefer.  Add a tablespoon or more of corn syrup to give it more of a sheen.  It will set with time and is very transportable.
But start with the best chocolate you can get our hands on.  It's the same concept as cooking with wine:  don't use anything you wouldn't drink straight.

GANACHE

This is as simple as ganache recipes get.  Some get a little more involved but are equally easy.  So if this appeals to you, don't be afraid to try out a few more versions.  And tell me what you like best.

1 cup heavy cream

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and set aside in a metal bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk constantly in a circular motion.  In one direction only.  Make sure to keep the whisk in contact with the bottom to incorporate all the chocolate and to keep from making a bloody mess.  Keep whisking until the cream and chocolate have perfectly combined into a holy union of shiny black liquid goodness.  Resist the urge to plunge your face into it. . . . .at least wait until its a bit cooler.
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