Monday, June 8, 2009

Craving Satisfaction: Chocolate Ganache

I don't know who was the first person to combine melted chocolate with heavy cream over a slowly simmering pot of water, or why, but I love them for it. My food cravings typically come courtesy of too many hours spent sprawled across the couch, taking in (almost) everything Food Network has to offer (I'll be honest, there are hosts on that show I really don't care for). I watched Ina Garten (also known as Barefoot Contessa) make some chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate ganache frosting, and I instantly wanted some.

Except, I didn't. What I really wanted was the ganache. You see, I had just recently savored my last bit of some of the best chocolate cake I've ever had (last bit unbeknownst to me, because I would return home one night to discover Boyfriend had eaten the very last bit), and was seriously craving some decadent chocolate ganache.

Oh chocolate ganache. So right, and chocolately, and so delicious when paired with the right cake, and then kept in the refrigerator for me to steal a covert nibble here and there when I need some chocolate. Or deliciousness. Look! (Hear?) Even the word ganache is lovely to say (thank you, France).

So the process went like this: I wanted some ganache, which was simple enough. But what to pair it with? I wasn't in the mood for making chocolate cake, and then I was craving yellow cupcakes with a thick, rich layer of chocolate ganache on top. So I made a batch of cupcakes. And they burnt on the bottom. And tasted too eggy. They sat on the counter for 2 days, and then they all went in the trash.

Boyfriend went hiking on Sunday, so I crated the puppy, and headed off to the grocery store. To make or to buy? To be authentic or to cheat? I took the easy way out, courtesy of Duncan Hines's Moist Deluxe Classic Yellow Cake mix. My favorite yellow cake. So moist and light, with just the right amount of dense crumbs so that it feels like a very luxurious cake. And they offer a low-fat recipe, too. I was hooked. And later, culinarily satisfied.

For the Cupcakes
1 box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Classic Yellow Cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs

For the Ganache
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (4 oz) heavy cream
Note: Original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp of instant coffe granules, which I omitted.

For the Toppings
Nestle Toll House Mini Chocolate Chips
Nonpareils (not the candy)

For the Cupcakes
1. Empty all ingredients into a bowl. Whisk or stir together. Note: I have found that sifting the boxed cake mixes yields batter with significantly less lumps or pockets of dry mix.

2. Portion out and cook according to package directions. Decrease time 1 - 2 minutes if using applesauce. Recommend an ice cream scoop for portioning out cupcakes.

For the Ganache
1. Fill medium pot with about 1 - 2 inches of water, and set over medium high heat. [Or, alternatively, use a double boiler.]

2. Place chocolate chips in heatproof bowl, and place bowl over pot of water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.

3. Add heavy cream, and stir until chocolate has melted and ganache is shiny.

Note: Alternatively, you can put chocolate chips in one bowl, and heat cream only in a pot, and then pour cream over chocolate chips, and stir.

For the Toppings
1. When cupcakes have cooled, place cupcake upside down in ganache. Give it a good dunk, up until the lip of the cupcake. Swirl cupcake in ganache, and pull up while twisting, to keep chocolate from dripping off.

2. After you have frosted all cupcakes, sprinkle with chocolate chips or nonpareils (or both, or anything else, whichever you like).

3. Let cupcakes and frosting set, approximately 3 hours. You can eat them right away, but the chocolate will be more melty, and less thick.

If you're looking for more information ganache, check out Wikipedia. If you're looking for the complete recipe I used, go to Food Network's website. Please note that this recipe is for chocolate cupcakes and chocolate ganache.