Chocolate!

Chocolate has always been at the top of the list for Valentine’s Day treats, and as the day approaches, the shops are filled with a staggering variety of heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and candies. Although the satin and ribbon trims offer a promise of delicious, too often what we find are treats that are just a little too sweet, or way too light on actual chocolate flavor. In my book, chocolate on chocolate is what Cupid’s arrow points toward, and the darker the better

With a few rules in hand, making chocolate desserts and other delights at home is not hard at all, and produces some memorable results, but there are a few simple rules to follow.

At the heart of many of these creations is ganache, a basic mixture of heavy cream and chocolate melted together which can be transformed into countless dishes. Form it into a truffle, pour it as a glaze, or spread it as a fluffy frosting, all that differs is the proportion of cream to chocolate and the addition of a few other ingredients. This is a handy recipe to commit to memory (don’t worry, it’s as easy as they come).

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Basic Ganache

Basic ganache is equal parts of chocolate and heavy cream. That’s it. I use local cream that is not ultra-pasteurized, and chocolate without additives and stabilizers for the best results, but in a pinch, a bag of good chocolate chips will do!

For a simple ganache glaze, heat 8 ounces of cream to simmering but not boiling (it should just start to steam) and pour over 8 ounces of cut-up chocolate or baking chips and a pinch of salt. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix it all together until well blended. You do not want to whip and add too much air. Set it aside for a few minutes, then pour it over a cake or cupcakes to make a lovely, drippy glaze that remains soft. You can also add a teaspoon of espresso powder to the cream to enhance flavor.

If you want to whip the ganache for frosting, decrease the chocolate to 4 ounces. Once melted, let cool a bit then place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so, no longer. If I plan ahead, I make it directly in the bowl of my standing mixer to save dishes.

Once cool, begin mixing on low speed. Stop after a half a minute or so, and scrape the bottom of the bowl. Put the speed up to medium/high once you have a little volume. If you like, add 6 tablespoons of butter, a little at a time, and continue whipping until a nice consistency. The butter adds to the body, and the shine, but it is not essential.

Even those who are not a fan of sweet frosting will love this one!

Change up the chocolate proportions and you can make truffles; add a couple more and create a decadent double dark chocolate truffle tart, below, for that special Valentine’s Day dessert.

Truffle Tart
You can swap out the flavors of the chocolate mint truffle tart. This one was glazed with Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Lemon Ginger with Black Pepper, and topped with candied ginger. A crowd favorite, and it serves 16! Behind are mini-chocolate cupcakes with whipped ganache frosting.

 

Crunchy Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

The Chocolate Rules

Double Chocolate Mint Truffle Tart

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