Friday, March 20, 2009

White Chocolate Ganache

I don’t think there is an occasion more joyous than a wedding. Of course, once a wedding has taken place, many more joys follow, like the arrival of a long awaited baby. But it all starts with a wedding, and I find weddings to be chock-filled with hope.

If you’re lucky, you only ever need to have one wedding – although some people have more than one, if not several! So the trick to getting your fill of wedding joy is to know lots of people who are planning on getting married.

As a cake baker, I am getting to participate in weddings, baby showers, naming days and even funerals (although not too many of those, thank goodness)! I consider it a privilege to be invited to create cakes and cupcakes for these landmark occasions in people’s lives. We (my darling husband and I) always try extra hard to come up with something special that fits the occasion and the people who we’re baking for. And what we’ve discovered is trying extra hard allows us an opportunity for continuous improvement. When people want something unusual on their cake(s) we find ourselves stretching our skills and often discovering something new in the process.

This month in preparation for a wedding we’ve discovered white chocolate ganache. If you’re a regular reader, you may have heard me curse white chocolate in the past. I am proud to say I’ve reconciled with white chocolate and I’ve cracked the very difficult to make but very professional looking white ganache. Here’s how you make white chocolate ganache.

750g white chocolate bits – Callebaut is the best
225ml pure cream

1. Pour the white chocolate bits into a large bowl. Give yourself plenty of room to manoeuvre.

2. Heat the pure cream in a small saucepan until it boils. Be very careful as you do not want it to burn to the bottom of the pan, or rise up and boil over.

3. Pour the boiling cream evenly over the white chocolate bits, then begin stirring with a fork. The mixture will be lumpy and sticky – just keep going and watch as the white chocolate melts.

4. There will be a point where the heat is all but gone from the mixture and you feel you need a little bit more to get across the line. Place the bowl in the microwave oven for 20 seconds. Then take it out and resume mixing, but this time do so with a balloon whisk. It helps to have a buddy on hand at this point, because the mixing requires a fair bit of elbow grease. Continue mixing until all lumps of chocolate are gone and you are left with a smooth, thick, viscose mixture.

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stand aside. Leave the ganache to set for 24 hours. I kid you not – if you want to avoid heartache, leave the ganache for a full day. When you return to use it, it will be thick like butter and can be used to fill a cake and cover it. Heat your palette knife under hot water and run it over the surface of the ganache to achieve a perfectly smooth look.

6. What you do next is up to you – you could flick dark chocolate across your cake, decorate it with Guylian chocolates, or drape it with fondant. I have seen one baker attach large pieces of chocolate bark to the sides so that the pieces stand about two inches about the cake. He then filled the top of the cake with spun toffee – an incredibly elaborate looking cake for a very special occasion.