The Secrets of Baking
Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts
by Sherry Yard
- Special Tools
Food processor (optional)
- Candy thermometer
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
1. Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces. Don’t be lazy here. Big chunks will not melt.
- Traditional Method
2. Place the chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boiling means the cream will actually rise up in the pan and threaten to boil over.
3. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream, then let it sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add too much air to the ganache. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. It may look done after 1 minute of stirring, but keep going to be sure it’s emulsified.
Food Processor Method
2. Place the chopped chocolate in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat (or bring to a boil in the microwave).
3. Immediately pour the hot cream into the food processor, on top of the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then pulse the machine three times. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and pulse three more times, until all the chocolate is melted. This smooth, silky chocolate is now ganache. Transfer the ganache to a bowl.
4. Let the ganache sit at room temperature until it cools to 70 degrees F. In a 65 degrees F room, this will take only 15 minutes. You can speed up the process by pouring the ganache out onto a clean baking sheet (thinner layers cool faster). Once the ganache reaches 70 degrees F, it is ready to be used. At this point it can also be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
I prefer using a serrated knife for chopping chocolate. It’s safer because the blade doesn’t slip off the hard surface of the chocolate. And I find that it’s easier to get small chunks.
Tangy Ganache: Replace all or part of the cream with crème fraîche.
Earl Grey Ganache: Place 1 bag of Earl Grey tea in the cream and bring it to a boil. Cover and let it steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bag and squeeze over the cream. Rewarm the tea-infused cream and continue with the recipe.
Lavender Ganache: Place 1 to 2 tablespoons lavender flowers in the cream and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain and rewarm the lavender-infused cream, then continue with the recipe.
Orange Ganache: Add 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest to the cream and bring to a boil; strain into the chocolate. When the ganache is complete, add 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier.