Chocolate Ganache

061313-StirItUp

Editor’s Note: This is part three of a three-part series on Boston Cream Pie. All three recipes are needed to make Boston Cream Pie, but each may be used individually, as well. Part one on the Genoise Sponge Cake and part two on Crème Anglaise may be found at TheTahoeWeekly.com.    

Three articles ago, I started giving you the recipe for Boston Cream Pie. The first part of the recipe was the Genoise Sponge Cake. It is one of the more versatile cakes when it comes to how you eat it. It can be frosted with a butter cream, served with berries and whipped cream, use a baking sheet to cook it off and it is perfect for jelly rolls or ice cream cake logs, or you can make a meringue using the leftover whites and make a Baked Alaska.

The second part of the recipe was the Crème Anglaise or pastry cream. This is the thick, custard that is used as the filling between the two cake layers. It is easy to vary the vanilla flavor by adding different extracts or liquors, and like the sponge cake, can be used in many desserts such as tarts, éclairs and puddings, and used as a decorating and flavorful drizzle.

The third and final step in the Boston Cream Pie is the chocolate ganache used to cover the top. Like the other two parts of the cake, ganache has quite a few different uses. It is easy to make with just a few ingredients, and depending on how much you let it cool before using it, you can use it as a glaze, which is what we will do for this recipe, you can let it cool and pipe it onto cakes for a shiny frosting, or whip it for a lighter version frosting. But wait, that’s not all its good for.

You can completely chill the ganache, use a spoon to make little chocolate balls, dust them with a cocoa powder, and you have truffles. As a matter of fact, when you glaze the Boston Cream Pie, there will be left over ganache that drips off the cake which you can scoop back up, let cool all the way and make some truffles to decorate your cake.

Like everything, there are different ways of doing things. Some people will melt the butter with the cream, some will use a whisk to incorporate the cream into the chocolate, some don’t use any butter at all. I know a lot of chefs that melt the chocolate in the microwave. Just be careful not to burn your chocolate because there is nothing you can do to save it once burnt. The basic recipe is simply chocolate and heavy cream. One bit of advice though is to use a semi or bittersweet chocolate you like to eat plain because that’s what you will basically taste in your ganache as a softer version.

Chocolate Ganache

8 oz. semi or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 C heavy cream (be sure it is heavy cream and not just whipping cream which often has less fat)
2 T unsalted butter, softened

Place the chopped chocolate into a bowl and pour the cream into a pot. Bring the cream just to a boil. Be sure to watch it so it doesn’t boil over. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a couple minutes to allow it to start melting the chocolate. Use a spatula instead of a whisk and gently fold together. What you are looking for is a smooth chocolate with no lumps and as few air bubbles as possible. If your chocolate still has some lumps that just won’t melt, place your bowl over a pot of simmering water to finish melting it. When the chocolate is completely melted and smooth on the back of your spatula, fold in the butter a little at a time until fully incorporated.

Let the ganache cool and thicken for maybe up to half an hour so it will still pour as a thick layer. Place the cake on a wire rack on a baking sheet and pour the ganache over the top from the center of the cake. Use a spatula or spoon to gently push from the center so it just pours over the sides a little. You don’t cover all the sides for this cake, just a slight drip down in various spots. Be sure to scrape up any drippings off the sheet pan, strain any crumbs out, and use for truffle garnishes after you cool it in the refrigerator.

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Chef Smitty
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. Smitty has been teaching skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for more than 26 years each winter, and spends his summers working for High Sierra Waterski School since 2000. Smitty has been writing his chef column for Tahoe Weekly since 2005.