This sauce is glossy and smooth, looks great on a white plate, and has a really well-balanced flavor. It's based on the Master Ganache, with half the cream replaced by creme fraiche. The alcohol can be varied according to your taste and the dessert with which the sauce is to be served. For a nonalcoholic sauce, use espresso to create a deeper chocolate flavor.
This sauce should be served warm. All sauces are thicker when cold and thinner when hot. If you want a cold chocolate sauce, use the cold variation following the recipe. Wrap a container of the sauce in a heating pad to keep it warm until you need it.
My sauce uses simple syrup, which is a standard pantry item in professional kitchens. To make it, combine equal amounts of sugar and water and bring to a boil. (See why they call it simple?) Simple syrup keeps for weeks in the refrigerator.
Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir to moisten the sugar and insert a thermometer. Cook until the temperature reaches 220 degrees F, about 5 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Follow the method for Master Ganache, adding the cream fraiche to the cream before bring the cream to a boil.
Add the Tia Maria and simple syrup and stir for 1 one minute, or until smooth and thoroughly combined. Cover the sauce and keep it warm near the stove until it is served.
Can deep, dark, intense, rich, velvety smooth chocolate be a spiritual experience? It certainly is heavenly when mixed with cream. Praise the pastry angels and pass the bonbons!
This is the basic ganache recipe. Use it for truffles, tarts, fillings, you name it. Follow the same technique when adjusting the recipe for firm and soft ganache. An alternative food processor method is given, which can be applied to any ganache recipe in this chapter.
My desire is not only to introduce you to ganache but also to make it a staple in your refrigerator. As long as you don't eat it all as a midnight snack, it can be available to help you throw together dessert at a moment's notice.
Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces. Don't be lazy here. Big chunks will not melt.
Traditional method: Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boiling means the cream will actually rise up in the pan and threaten to boil over.
Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream, then let it sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl, and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add too much air to the ganache. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. It may look done after 1 minute of stirring, but keep going to be sure it's emulsified.
Food processor method: Place the chopped chocolate in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat (or bring to a boil in the microwave.)
Immediately pour the hot cream into the food processor, on top of the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then pulse the machine 3 times. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and pulse 3 more times, until all the chocolate is melted. This smooth, silky chocolate is now ganache. Transfer the ganache to a bowl.
Let the ganache sit at room temperature until it cools to 70 degrees F. In a 65 degree F room, this will take approximately 4 hours or 2 hours in the refrigerator. You can speed up the process by pouring the ganache out onto a clean baking sheet (thinner layers cool faster.) Once the ganache reaches 70 degrees F, it is ready to be used. At this point it can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe courtesy of Sherry Yard, The Secrets of Baking, Houghton Mifflin, 2003