Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ganache is Good Nosh

Ganache is a pretty awesome combination of chocolate and cream.  And with those ingredients in the right proportions, it's pretty hard to go wrong.  Here are three (semi-)recent recipes:

Chocolate Truffles
Full credit to Alton Brown on this one

  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (I used dark chocolate)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Heat the corn syrup and cream (microwave, stove, your choice) until small bubbles appear.  Pour over chopped chocolate & butter and walk away.  Don't stir.  Come back 5 minutes later, and stir just until the mixture comes together.

Now the fun part--add the booze of your choice...Alton says 1/4 cup for the whole recipe; I'm pretty sure I used closer to 1/3, as I divided the ganache into 4 flavors (banana, mint, raspberry, and Irish cream.  Irish cream and banana were my favorites!).  Stir until it incorporates, and then chill as long as possible.

Banana ganache in a white chocolate heart
Here's where I take a detour from Alton.  You've got a ridiculously delicious (and alcoholic) chocolate ganache, and I think hand dipping truffles is a pain in the butt--you need to coat them several times to get any sort of a shell, and you get it all over your hands, so more goes in your mouth than in the truffle (I mean....).  My solution?  Make shells, fill with ganache, and you have truffle-esque creations with much less headache.  If you're really lazy, you can fill two shells and stick them together, as opposed to pouring on a chocolate lid.

Side note: I also made mango truffles, signified by the "M," as we had an overripe mango to use.  I pureed it, processed it with about half a box of cream cheese, and added a few dashes of cinnamon. This went into chocolate shells.  Mmmm mmmm good, sort of like a tropical cannoli cream.

Four Tiers of Chocolate Bliss
Partly family recipe, part Wayne Glissen's Baking, and part inspiration

-Your favorite chocolate cake, prepared in tiers (or not)

-Chocolate ganache (1 pound of finely chopped chocolate (I used dark), 1 cup of scalded (heat until small bubbles) cream.  Mix as before.

-Super-stable & workable chocolate buttercream (healthy folks, run away)

Combine 2 sticks softened butter with 1/2 cup shortening (this amount won't affect the taste but will stabilize the frosting like no other).  Beat with electric mixer until soft.  Add 3 3/4 cup (1 pound) powdered sugar.  Beat in EITHER 1 pasteurized egg white (if your grocery miraculously has them) or 1/8 c. egg beaters.  Melt 3 oz. chocolate and cool to room temp.  Beat into frosting, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Layer cake with ganache, being careful to not spread ganache past edge of next tier.  Frost with chocolate buttercream.  Pipe rosettes/decorations as desired.  I added in sugar pearls (100% edible).

Full credit to Joe Pastry's most excellent blog

So, what do you do if you still have leftover ganache?  This was my conundrum yesterday evening.  I had about a cup of ganache, and a surplus bag of almonds.  And, of course, Joe Pastry's blog.  So I made macarons, NOT to be confused with macaroons.

Joe's recipe, with my edits based on convenience:
-4 ounces blanched almonds
-7 ounces powdered sugar
-3 egg whites (you're supposed to age them; I didn't--this was a last-minute baking decision so I didn't have the time)
-1.75 ounces granulated sugar

Pulverize the almonds in a food processor.  If you do them alone they get granulated, but if you process them with the powdered sugar they become a very fine powder.

Whip the egg whites (with any desired coloring) to soft peaks, add the granulated sugar and whip to stiff peaks.  Stir in the almond-sugar powder, then fold until you see the mixture start to become looser.  Drop a test dollop onto parchment--it should settle down into a smooth (but not liquefied) coin.  If it's too thick (peaks remain), stir a bit more.  Plop or pipe equal-sized drops onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Let them sit on the sheet for 30ish minutes, until they've formed a bit of a skin.  This is a positive attribute; trust me.

After they've rested for 30 min, bake at 300 degrees for 12 minutes, and delight in the gorgeous little feet that your macarons have developed.

Let cool, remove from sheet, and fill with any manner of anything spreadable...especially ganache.

Here's the cake again, just because I'm rather proud of my first-ever tiered cake!


  1. You made macarons? Dammit, now I have to try them. Also, you can buy meringue powder to help stabilize frosting. They sell the Wilton brand at Michael's. I haven't figured out yet if the powdered "Just Whites" stuff at the grocery store is the same thing (or close enough).

  2. Those truffels look delicious!! And, just a heads up to you guys, I have called you out in my blog, there is a little "getting to know you" chain going around, and I have made you part of it!!

    Have a great weekend!!