Merry Easter Egg Hunt everyone!
Like I’ve said before, I’ve got myself a rep for my sweet bites, chocolates and chocolate truffles. Twice a year, for the christmas and easter holidays, I go big, past the occasional treat, and spend around two to three days in the kitchen, covered in chocolate.
I started making chocolates when I moved out from home and had to find a way to somehow compensate for the lack of an oven in my kitchen during christmas time – christmas cookies and sweets were a huge deal when I was a kid. After experimenting around for a bit, I had the chocolate basics down and started developing my own recipes. It might seem kind of silly, spending hours and hours making something you don’t actually eat a lot, but aside from being a whole lot of fun, my willing guinea pigs for the chocolates just kept coming back, asking for more. So I’ve made a habit of preparing boxes of chocolates for my friends and family as presents for the big holidays. Making these sometimes does involve a lot of work, sure, but I enjoy consciously putting effort into creating a present, something special, for someone dear to me – and, according to the feedback I’ve been getting, they enjoy it just as much.
For this year’s easter eggstravaganza, our extended family’s easter-sunday-brunch, I went down the fruity and summery road with the chocolates.
Passionfruit Ganache & Crystallized Chocolate
Poppy Seed, Marzipan and Lemon Truffle
Raspberry, Lime and Coconut Ganache
Date, Walnut and Coconut Truffle
Blueberry & Joghurt Ganache
Salted Butter Caramels
Arabian Coffee Spice Caramels
I decided to share the recipe for my passionfruit ganache chocolates with you guys first, simply because of the four different ganaches I made for this box, it’s the most fail-proof. Plus they’re delicious!
They actually have a story behind them, too. A couple of years back I stumbled across a no-bake chocolate gateau recipe by Heston Blumenthal. Hooked by the passion fruit-chocolate combo, I went shopping and got busy making it the same day. Easy enough to whip up and unbelievably delicious it’s my one slice of cake per year since that day. The trouble with this cake: it doesn’t travel well. At all. It has to stay frozen until about 15 mins before serving, so a 20 minute car ride kills it as I had to discover last year when I tried to bring it to my mother’s birthday dinner. Annoyed beyond belief I mourned at the puddle of chocolate ganache, thinking the thing needed a shell for situations like this. And thus, the idea of turning the basic idea of this cake into chocolates was born.
Since quite a number of truffle & chocolate recipes will be coming your way, I’ll start with a couple of basics concerning chocolate ganaches. These are just heads-up pointers for what’s to come, I will go into detail as the recipes require.
Chocolate Ganache 101
101.1) I’m not at home with the whole baking shindig, but as far as I know, a lot of doughs and fillings for any type of pastry require an extra eye on the amounts of the ingredients used. When it comes to chocolates, that kind of attention to detail starts with measuring all ingredients in grams instead of grams for solids and milliliters for liquids.
101.2) A ganache is an emulsion of chocolate and cream and/or butter, depending on the type of chocolate, use or desired consistency of the ganache.
101.3) Generally the ratio of chocolate to cream determines the consistency.
101.4) The rule of thumb for chocolate & cream ganaches is:
- Two parts chocolate to one part cream will result in a ganache of firm consistency. This „covering“ type of ganache is mostly used for cakes and icings on cupcakes and the likes. Just a little less chocolate and you’re in the general vicinity of a chocolate truffle ratio. This wildly depends on the specific recipe though.
- An equal ratio of chocolate to cream a ganache of medium consistency, This is the „filling“ type of ganache, used for chocolates and cake fillings. Depending on the type of chocolates I’m making, I either use this 50/50 ratio (including liquids on the cream counter) or add some chocolate to rise between this one and the one above for open chocolates like these passionfruit chocolates.
- More than 50% cream will result in a soft ganache. This one doesn’t firm up whatsoever unless it gets frozen somewhere down the line. So far I’ve only come across this ratio for dessert sauces and as a base for a chocolate mousse. Maybe the bakers among you will know more about it’s uses.
101.5) This rule of thumb is kinda-sorta inaccurate though. Like I’ve said, ganaches are an emulsion – a smooth blend of two liquids that usually wouldn’t mix. In this case it’s the cocoa solids and the fat contained within the molten chocolate and the cream that need to be coaxed into blending. Therefore the type of chocolate you’re using, determined by it’s cocoa solids percentage, changes the ratio needed. These are the ratios of different types of chocolate to cream which will result in a 50/50 type ganache:
- 200g dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa solids) : 300g cream
- 200g milk chocolate (25%-40% cocoa solids) : 200g cream
- 300g white chocolate (0% cocoa solids, milk solids keep it together) : 200g cream
101.6) I always use really good chocolate, not couverture, despite what a lot of recipes floating around out there tell me to do. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky, but after a couple of ganaches splitting on me, I blamed the couverture and used the best chocolate I could get for a reasonable price.
101.7) Usually a ganache is made by pouring hot cream over finely chopped or grated chocolate to melt it. I personally prefer to melt the chocolate in a waterbath to have both chocolate and cream at around the same temperature when combining them. So far it worked better for me than melting the chocolate in the cream for no apparent reason.
101.8) A ganache can’t be rushed. Use a rubber spatula to slowly combine and blend chocolate and cream. If you stir too quickly or even whisk it you might get too much air into the mix, which affects the consistency, and you might even cause it to split due to the quick changes of temperature.
101.9) When a ganache split on me for the first time I didn’t exactly know what was happening or what on earth I was supposed to do about it. The first thing that popped into my head was: it’s an emulsion, just like a sauce hollandaise. What to do to save a hollandaise? Pop it onto a waterbath and grab a handheld or suffer for a couple of hours from breaking several speed limits with your normal whisk. Evidently I did the right thing. Another possible way to save it would be slowly adding just a little bit of hot skimmed milk to even out the fat content of your ganache. Once you’re facing a blob of goo stuck inside your whisk and a bowl full of oil, it’s too late though.
101.10) That’s it for the chocolate & cream ganache basics, here goes the first of many in my chocolates recipes collection.
Passionfruit Chocolates (60)
60 Milk Chocolate Shells
160g Dark Chocolate 70%+, roughly chopped
50g Milk Chocolate, roughly chopped
150g Double Cream 35%+
6 Passion Fruits, pulp scooped out
Pinch of Salt
1) Add the cream, salt and passionfruit pulp to a small pot and on medium heat until it almost comes to a boil. The heat allows the cream to take on the passionfruit aroma. Remove the pot from the heat but keep warm until it’s needed again.
2) Place the chocolate in a heat resistant mixing bowl. Set this over a pot of gently simmering (not boiling!) water and allow to melt completely. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the surface oft the water as it would get too hot – the chocolate would stick to the bowl and crystallize and ruin your ganache in the process. Also make sure none of the rising steam escapes the pot and could somehow get into the bowl. That, too, would endanger the outcome of your ganache. Remove the bowl from the heat once it’s completely molten and silky.
3) Strain the infused cream to get rid of the passionfruit seeds and add it to the bowl of melted chocolate a third at a time. Use a rubber spatula to gently combine the two, making sure to incorporate the cream thoroughly after each addition. Set the ganache aside to let it cool down to room temperature.
4) Move the ganache to a large piping bag. Chocolate shells usually come inside the mould the nice person who made them for you used. Leave them inside the mould and set them onto a large baking tray or cutting board.
5) Pipe enough ganache into the shells to fill them by ½. Tap the mould/cutting board combo onto a hard surface a couple of times to remove any air bubbles trapped inside the chocolates. Just don’t tap hard enough to send the chocolates flying… *cough*
6) Pipe in another layer, filling them up to the rims this time.
7) Leave them to set for 2 hours in a cool place. Popping them in the fridge can cause the ganache to grow dull and sometimes even grainy. Let it cool down slowly, for about 2 hours.
8) Top them off with the chocolate crystals you’ll be making in the meantime or decorate them with anything pretty and chocolate related.
9) Chill the chocolates overnight in an airtight container, this time in the fridge.
10) Keep them refrigerated. You have about a week to eat them – if you have the restraint to take about a week to eat them.
100g White Caster Sugar
40g Dark Chocolate 65%+, finely grated
37g Plain Water
1) Pour the cold tap water into a large, heavy-based pan.
2) Add the sugar, and set the temperature on high. Bring the mix to a boil.
3) Boil the syrup until its temperature reaches 135°C – if you’re using a probe – or keep a close eye on it and look for the rims starting to take on colour.
4) Take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate.
5) Whisk the resulting goo until it’s all dried up and crystallized.
6) Pour the crystals onto a tray or cutting board lined with baking parchment to cool off.
7) This awesome stuff keeps about 1 month if you store it in an airtight container and keep it in the freezer. Apart from decorating these chocolates with it, it’s a nice and crunchy coating for truffles. Basically it goes with anything you would need sugar or chocolate for.
I hope you guys enjoy these! If you’ve never made chocolates before, don’t be afraid of them, they’re easier to make than people would make you believe.
While I do have a rough outline of the order I planned to post my chocolates recipes in, let me know if you want to get a hold of one from this years easter-boxes sooner rather than later. Maybe I can be persuaded to re-order…