Chocolate bonbons
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Last week, we continued working with chocolate making truffles, ganaches, and pralinés. We used spices, herbs, fruits, fruit purees, nut pastes, and liquors to flavour and make over 10 different types of chocolates. We made mostly cream ganaches for the fillings inside the chocolates. Sorry about the shortage of pictures this time. I didn’t want a chocolate covered camera.

This is what our kitchen normally looks like first thing in the morning. We measure out ingredients for all the recipes for everyone.

Although the basic cream ganache recipe contains just chocolate, cream, and butter, all our ganaches ended up with slightly different textures. This was evident when we had to cut (into small squares) or pipe our ganache (into small rounds). I suspect that it has something to do with our tempering skills which are still in-the-works.

Ingredients for a star anise and cinnamon flavoured cream ganache: cream, chocolate, butter (not in picture), and spices.

To infuse the star anise and cinnamon into the ganache, we heat it in the cream which we bring just to a boil. Then we turn off the heat and let it infuse for 10 minutes. After, we measure the weight of the cream and add back any cream that was evaporated.

Then, this warm cream is poured on the chocolate (already tempered), allowed to sit for 2 minutes, and stirred until smooth. Just as with the egg sculptures, we have to make sure not to heat this mixture to over 34°C or else you loose the desirable crystal structures in the cocoa butter. Once we get a smooth, homogenous mixture, we add the room temperature butter.

Then, there are 2 ways to let the ganache set. The first is to pour it into a large square mold to set and cut. The second is to cool it slightly (to 22°C), pour onto our marble table, and work it with our spatulas to crystallize some of the cocoa butter. This makes the ganache thicker and easier to pipe into balls.

And now the fun part! Dipping the ganache in melted chocolate which, of course, needs to be tempered. And yes, there’s a trick to dipping the ganaches as well. Before dipping the entire ganache, we brush it with some melted chocolate to act as a layer of protection. You don’t want the heat from the melted chocolate to melt your ganache and contaminate your chocolate coating.

To dip, we place the ganache in our bowl of tempered chocolate.

Use the fork to cover the ganache with chocolate.

Pick up the ganache and 'pump' (as Chef calls it) it. This means moving your fork up and down, not more than 3cm from the surface of the melted chocolate. We do this 3-5 times, clean off excess chocolate against the rim of the bowl, and let the chocolate coated ganache slide of the fork and onto a plastic sheet.

Here are some of our chocolates (left to right, top to bottom): star anise & cinnamon, lemon basil, pistachio marzipan, coffee, and praliné & passion fruit jelly.

Here's the smooth, melt-in-your mouth centres of our chocolate ganaches. Since ganache is basically a fat-in-water emulsion, it's important not to let the emulsion separate or else you'll get a grainy texture. This can happen if you stir the ganache between 23°C - 29°C.

Each of us made a large tray of chocolates. We took home as many as we wanted, yay!

Chocolate making took up too much time and we ended up working 10 minutes past the lunch hours at the school cafe. The staff wouldn't let us in, even when our Chef went to explain. Chef felt so bad he went to look for food for us so we wouldn't starve. We ended up with curry chicken and rice which was 10x better than the cafe food!

Well? Let me know what you think. Write me a comment below!