The Versatility of the Ganache
I know the advent of Valentine’s Day is the next few days. Not that I care about the romantic affiliations with Valentine’s Day; I just use this holiday to eat a lot of chocolate. That’s my kind of holiday! (Except for Chinese New Year, which is coming next Sunday…)
Since I have no classes today, I managed to spend my afternoon making all confections dealing with chocolate. I know…I have issues but I’m not the only one who is ingesting all of these goods: the gianduja hot chocolate, gianduja chocolate stuffed figs, and the traditional truffle. No, no! I’m not talking about the fungus that pigs dig out from the ground I’m talking about these…
If you’re actually skeptical about the chocolate stuffed figs, here’s what it looks like.
Since I’m not going to kill you with all of those recipes, basically you have the “master” ganache, which is basically in the following recipe. I just took the liberty of changing it as my own by adding hazelnut praline paste (which you may find in your local grocery or health store; I bought mine in Whole Foods) into the ganache. So here’s the recipe for the figs.
Chocolate Stuffed Figs
Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow.
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet (I used bittersweet Calebaut) chocolate, finely chopped
24 to 36 dried Calimyra (or Turkish) figs, depending on size
1 1/2 pounds semisweet chocolate tempered (optional)
1. Have ready a 9 x 13 inch sheet pan lined with parchment (or wax) paper.
2. In a saucepan, heat the cream over medium-high heat just until it begins to boil. Remove from the heat. Add the finely chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth with a rubber spatula. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap touching the top, and let set for 6 to 8 hours at room temperature.
3. Prepare figs for stuffing by gently rolling between your thumb and fingers to loosen the seeds and soften the flesh. Insert a wooden or metal skewer in the hole in the bottom of the fig and wiggle it to enlarge the hole slightly for stuffing.
4. When the ganache is set, gently stir with a rubber spatula a few times. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a small round 1/4-inch tip (#803).
5. Hold each fig’s stem gently between your index and middle fingers, using your thumb to support the plump fruit. Insert the tip of the pastry bag into the fig’s bottom. Gently squeeze, stuffing until the fig is plump and full. Do not worry about leaks in the fig’s skin. They can be fixed later.
6. Place filled figs on a parchment (or wax paper) lined pan and allow to set at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Using a sharp knife, scrape the excess filling from each fig’s exterior. Stuffed figs can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Remove and return to room temperature for eating-or dipping, if desired.
7. For the dipping option, follow the tempering instructions from the link. To dip, hold the fig by the stem, dip the bottom half of each fig in the tempered chocolate. Place the dipped fruit on a parchment-lined pan and let the chocolate set. With a pair of sharp scissors, snip off the very tip of each stem, which is too tough to be eaten before serving.
As for the chocolate truffle, you take the ganache recipe and use a small spoon or melon baller and scoop out a small amount of ganache (say about the size of a walnut). Place it in an aluminum or parchment lined sheet pan and repeat until you use up all the ganache, and refrigerate for 10 to 20 minutes until firm.
While you’re waiting for the ganache to chill, chop about 12 ounces (in weight) of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and temper (use the link from the fig recipe, to temper). Take out the ganache from the refrigerator and dip the ganache ball into the tempered chocolate, thinly coating it. (The whole purpose of the melted chocolate is for the cocoa powder to cling onto the ball of ganache.)
Once you coat, then you place it into a bowl or shallow plate of cocoa powder and coat it with cocoa powder. Do not remove this truffle from the bowl yet.
The melted chocolate has not set; just go on to the next ganache ball and repeat.
Once you coat this truffle in the cocoa powder, then you take the first truffle and place it onto the lined sheet pan. Repeat until all is cocoa-ed. Chill the truffles (with the sheet pan) in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, until the chocolate has set then serve.
One last note, the hot chocolate is made basically by using that ganache and add milk (to the desired thickness/amount) into a saucepan, heat it over medium heat and stir with a whisk to remove any lumps. Once it comes to a simmer, just pour into a mug and enjoy.