Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ganache - Easy recipe, many uses

Oh, oh oh... so excited about this idea for crème fraîche!:

In France, ganache is usually made with crème fraîche instead of sweet cream, giving it a tangy brightness. The cream can be infused with spices like cinnamon, ginger or black pepper; with herbs like mint or lavender; with extracts like vanilla, coffee, almond or orange. Rum, brandy and most other liqueurs are ganache friendly.

So goes this NY Times recipe lab article, entitled "Chocolate Ganache, an Easygoing French Treat,"
 top-quality chocolate is consistent and widely available, and because
commercial cream is pasteurized and homogenized, ganache is nearly
foolproof. It is equally good whether made in a $300 copper saucepan or
in a measuring jar in the microwave. As long as you don’t burn it,
ganache can endure rough handling and even neglect. (It lasts nearly
forever in the refrigerator.) A chilled jar of it can be reheated
several times in a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave. If
the sauce becomes grainy, a little hot water or cream and a whisk will
restore its texture.
Many uses were listed, but I'll just copy the funniest tip:

• Pour or pipe it warm over a cake, cupcakes or cookies; it will set as it cools to a soft, rich glaze. (If the icing loses its gloss as it sets, Ms. Greenspan advised, “Hit it with some heat from a blow dryer.”)
For any chocolate sauce or ganache, always use top-quality chocolate with plenty of real cocoa butter, like Scharffen Berger or Valrhona. Don’t go more than a few ticks above 70 percent chocolate solids; the cocoa butter that makes up most of the rest of the bar is needed to keep the mixture smooth. When buying cream, look for a pasteurized one from a local dairy; most national brands are ultrapasteurized, which changes the cream’s fat structure and flavor. (Also, read the label to make sure the cream is just that: cream. The Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers to add emulsifiers, sweeteners and stabilizers to products labeled “heavy cream.”)

[For a universal what's-in-your-pantry template recipe:]
...This sauce may or may not be a ganache in the end, but you will hear no complaints. Pour with abandon...
...Over very low heat, melt any amount of bitter or semisweet chocolate,
along with a half-cup of liquid: milk, cream, rice milk, coffee, even
water. Almond milk and coconut milk work especially well, because they
are high in fat. Keep  whisking in liquid until the sauce has the consistency you like. If the
 taste is too intense (for example, if you have used bittersweet
chocolate and coffee), mix in chunks of butter to tone it down. Add
vanilla to round out the flavor and salt with caution. Not everyone is a
 fan of the salted-chocolate trend, especially children.

And, a more predictable recipe:

    5 minutes


    14 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
    3 tablespoons espresso, strong coffee or water
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 cup sugar (confectioners’, granulated or light brown)
    3/4 cup heavy cream, preferably not ultrapasteurized
    1 pinch coarse salt, more to taste

1.    In a heavy saucepan, combine all ingredients and melt together over very low heat, stirring. (Alternatively, combine in a bowl and microwave at low heat for 2 minutes. Stir. Continue cooking in 30-second blasts, stirring in-between.)
2.    Just before all the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and stir until chocolate melts and mixture comes together. It may appear curdled, but keep stirring or whisk vigorously; it will smooth out. If too thick to pour, whisk in hot water a tablespoon at a time. Taste for salt and adjust the seasoning.

YIELD     About 1 1/2 cups

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Thanks so much! I greatly value thoughtful comments!! ~ Gabriela