I live in Costa Rica. As a cook, indeed there are a few challenges here; but nothing that cannot be overcome with a bit of creativity. For any cook in North America, my recipes are as easy as pie. And speaking of pie, today I was going to demo a recipe for my new-and-improved chocolate cream pie. But then I got side-tracked with the new twist of said pie: ganache. And I realized that we could devote days to ganache. But we’ll keep it short, sweet (literally), and stunningly simple. Let’s go.
You’ll need: ½ cup of heavy/whipping cream and a third-pound (call it 6 ounces) of chocolate either already in chips or shaved, or broken into small bits (absolutely any kind of chocolate will do).
Let's review that ratio: half-cup of cream to 6 ounces of chocolate. This is life-altering, so memorize it.
This is so easy that you’ll find you must stop yourself from making this sweet treat too often. If you’ve got chocolate-loving kids or a chocoholic spouse, watch out. On with the show.
Pour your half-cup of heavy cream into a small saucepan and turn the heat to low-medium. You’re not in a rush . . . this entire process happens quickly enough, as is. While your cream is heating, pour your chocolate bits into a medium size bowl.
Any bowl will do, really; however, glass and metal conduct heat a bit better. I do try to use glass or metal, but truly, your bowl doesn’t really matter and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. So back to the stove.
For ganache remember this word: scald. Forget this word: boil.
The secret to creating the perfect ganache is to scald, not boil the cream. I’ve done this for 30 years and have never, ever failed to achieve a perfect ganache. So you wonder . . . what’s the difference between a boil and scalding? Good question. When cream comes to a boil (as with any liquid in the kitchen) you’ll see little bubbles erupting all over the top of the liquid. That’s bad. When cream is merely scalded, you’ll see only a ring of bubbles forming around the edges of the liquid, where the cream meets the pan. That’s good. You can even touch the cream with your clean finger to confirm that it’s getting hot (not burn-you-hot, but hot) . . . and at that point watch for that ring of bubbles. This is not the time to walk away to make a cocktail.
Oh my God in Heaven! There’s a skin forming on my cream and I believe that I saw two or three bubbles in the center of the pan! Oh no, I let it boil; and Kathy said no boiling.
Breathe. You’re fine. Sometimes a thin skin will form, and it’s absolutely no problem. A few bubbles? As long as you have bubbles around the rim of the pan, you’re fine; so pour that sinfully rich cream on top of your chocolate bits and begin stirring slowly.
Oh, but you truly believe that you boiled your cream and have ruined your first attempt at ganache. Press on. Pour that hot cream over your chocolate bits. You'll still get ganache. It may not be that perfect, glossy, firm, silky-smooth, rich, chocolate goodness, but still you'll have something quite suitable toward adding those five extra pounds.
As your chocolate melts, you’ll see less cream. Now is the time to stir more rapidly, without sloshing. Just use a fork or a very small whisk and stir, stir, stir. When all chocolate is melted and your chocolate turns glossy, you’re there. True, it won’t be quite as glossy if you’re using white chocolate; but any chocolate made from cocoa will be dark and glossy.
Bam! Ganache. And this, my friends, is how those oh-so-expensive chocolate truffles are born.
Place your bowl in the refrigerator and allow the ganache to thicken and get firm. No, you’ll never have hard chocolate again . . . merely firm. Firm enough to roll into balls for truffles (traditionally rolled in cocoa powder to give the same effect as Mother Nature’s truffles found in the forest). Firm enough to make the best chocolate torte in the world. Firm enough to become the bottom layer of our new-and-improved chocolate cream pie.
Tell me again that life-changing ratio, please.
One-half cup cream and six ounces of chocolate. An easier way to remember? One-half cup cream and one-third pound chocolate pieces. One half and one third. Now go get your spoon and get going on those five pounds. Tomorrow we’ll tackle the many ways to use this ganache besides simply from a spoon . . . and yes, it will keep in the refrigerator for several days.