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Category ... Techniques

Birthday Ganache

Apr 02, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Techniques

I always make a point of posting on Saturday morning at 9:30 eastern and this Saturday happens to be my birthday so I've chosen my favorite frosting to write about.

I'm sure you all know what ganache is but just to be absolutely certain, it is, in my opinion, the best way to eat chocolate--a beautiful blending of bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream. Sometimes it contains a little butter and sometimes some liqueur, but basically all you need is your favorite eating chocolate and heavy cream.

There are recipes galore in every dessert book and on the web and in my newest book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes, with over 10 recipes fro making ganache. I even list how to vary the amount of cream depending on the percentage of cacao in the chocolate. If you have a food processor, all you need to do is process the chocolate until fine bits and add cream that has been heated to the boiling point. But what I want to share with you now is the proper texture or consistency you need in order to be soft enough to frost a cake smoothly and evenly and not separate from the cake after it is set.

If you weigh the chocolate and the cream and follow the suggested proportions depending on the cacao content of the chocolate, the next thing you need to know is that it must cool uncovered for 1 hour and then covered to prevent evaporation for as long as it takes to reach a creamy texture. It is best not to stir it during this time and it really depends on the room temperature and quantity of ganache as to how long this will take, which can vary from a few to several hours. My fellow author, Lisa Yockelson, also recommends straining the ganache while pouring it out of the food processor into the bowl for a shinier texture.

Ideally, ganache spreads most easily when it has cooled down to 80˚F/26˚C. Cooler and it will firm up so that it will require a few seconds in a microwave or a gently stirring over hot water.

If you need to use the ganache before it is firm enough to spread, whisking it briefly will do wonders to thicken it but the incorporated air will also lighten its color.

That's all there is to this magic mixture of chocolate and cream. Except for one more thing: Woody is working on three wonderful substitutions for the cream so that even the lactose intolerant will be able to enjoy eating ganache. Posting to follow soon. Meantime, you can be surfing through the over 7 million results from putting ganache into your web browser.

Chocolate Whipped Cream for All Seasons

Jan 09, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Techniques

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Light whipped ganache, which I think of as the ultimate chocolate whipped cream, is the most cloud-like and lovely chocolate frosting imaginable. Compared to classic dark chocolate ganache, which uses about equal weight chocolate and heavy cream, light whipped ganache uses double the weight of cream to chocolate. It's easy made by processing the chocolate until fine particles and adding the heavy cream that is brought to the boiling point with the motor running. After it cools to around 65˚F/18˚C it is whipped to a mousse like consistency.

Not only is it perfect for frosting a cake, it also makes a perfect chocolate mousse dessert.

The photograph above is of a chocolate chiffon cake which I made for an Epiphany party. You can see the airy consistency of the chocolate whipped cream. Everyone was amazed that even a large serving was so very easy to eat!

The Search for Showcase Perfect Sides

Jan 08, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Techniques

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BANANA CHIFFON CAKE

Angel food and chiffon cakes have an inherent problem when you want a majestically tall cake, but also want the sides to look showcase smooth worthy of no adornments. A tube pan's sides and center tube are purposely sloped permitting the egg foam based batter to climb up to its billowy height. Then on cooling, a properly baked angel food or chiffon cake's structure will cling onto the sides, center tube, and bottom of the pan, allowing the cake to be cooled as it is suspended upside down. In my books, I have written different instructions on how to release the sides and remove the pan. In The Cake Bible, I write to move the spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake in a sideways manner. In Rose's Heavenly Cakes, I write for angel food cakes to use an up-and-down motion. This change in method, which leaves less of the crust on the sides of the cake is useful because it has less potential for tearing the cake's sides especially when it is to be frosted. But it is well-worth mastering the sideways technique as with care you will have the most attractive smooth sides.

When Woody entered the Minnesota State Fair, he saw several chiffon and angel food cakes with virtually smooth sides. This began a series of tests to see what could be done to produce a tall cake with attractive smooth sides for both angel food and chiffon cakes.
We tried both non-stick and standard finish two-piece tube pans. Along with trying sideways and up-and-down motions for releasing the cake, we experimented with different applications for the sides: a thin coat of batter, greasing and then coating with Wondra flour or sugar, spraying with Baker's Joy (oil spray with flour), and greasing and then attaching parchment paper.

From all the tests, we found the best releasing procedure is to:
1. Use a small metal spatula to loosen the top edge of the cake by using an up-and-down motion going down a half inch in depth while circling the pan's rim.
2. Use a rigid sharp knife or stiff metal spatula preferably with a squared off end, scraping firmly against the pan's sides and slowly and carefully circling the pan.
In order to ensure that you are scraping against the sides of the pan and removing the crust from the sides, leaving it on the cake, begin by angling the knife or spatula about 20 degrees away from the cake and toward the pan, pushing the cake inward a bit. It is best to use a knife blade that does not exceed 1-inch in width up to the height of the cake, which is about 3-inches high.

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Continue reading "The Search for Showcase Perfect Sides" »

The Virtues of Old Dough Scraps

Jan 03, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Techniques

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This apple galette was our New Year's Dessert. I made it with left-over pie dough from an elderberry pie I made on 10/10/10 for my friend Jason Menegus's birthday. I had enough left-over dough scraps and enough old apples from the Menegus' fall harvest to make a three-quarter recipe which is enough to serve as dessert for three nights.

I was amazed how wonderfully these left-overs metamorphosed into a perfect galette. The apples on baking came back to life with a juicy and melting texture and just the right 'bite.' And the crust was tender, crisp, and even more flaky than the original due to layering the dough scraps. I would almost say I prefer the scraps to the original dough.

Lesson here: NEVER throw out your dough scraps. Either turn them into cookies or freeze them for smaller pies, tarts, or free-form tarts (aka galettes).

Just in Time for Holiday Cookie Baking!

Dec 01, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Cookie Questions

Roxanne Weber, Associate Editor of Chow.com has put together a very useful posting on holiday cookies. Click here if you want to know what are the best cookies to select for shipping, how to pack them, and the best way to send them.

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