W c h o c o l a t e

c h o c o l a t e
A New Ganache
By Owen Dugan
The ganaches are available in a number of sets. The “Classic” set is
just as it sounds, with raspberry, hazelnut, coffee and other traditional
ater and chocolate do not mix. This is one of the stead- flavors. “Chefs” is more inventive, with basil in one and banana and
fast rules of pastry. Instructions on melting or temper- passion fruit in another. “Lahloo” includes tea and herb infusions.
ing chocolate in a double boiler often include stern
For first-timers, “Pure” is a good choice; after all, isn’t purity the point?
instructions to dry the bottom of the bowl when you I wanted to see if water was a better vehicle for flavor than cream was.
take it off heat, make sure your whisk is dry, and so on. One drop of wa- I found that these chocolates—many of which I have eaten and writter and the shiny, silky chocolate can “seize,” at which point you are ten about as bars—benefited from the treatment.
supposed to throw it away.
In only one case—the Amano Madagascar—did I feel the ganache
Chocolate is mostly fat, cocoa and sugar, kneaded together to inte- was not creamy enough. Otherwise I was not missing the cream in the
grate them. Seizing occurs when a little
ganache. As for flavor, they are explosive,
water introduced into melted chocolate
each with great character, and have very
moistens the dry cocoa particles and
clear progressions. I am going to go out
makes them stick together, forming unon a limb and say I prefer these candies
appealing clumps.
to the bars from which they are made.
So when I heard about water-based gaLike the best raw material, they are comnache, I thought it was a joke. Ganache
plex, distinctive and beguiling. I think
is a pastry and chocolatier’s mainstay.
ganache is a more pleasant texture than
Chocolate is melted and mixed with
a bar, and it also carries a lot of flavor
cream to make a rich, smooth concoction
closer to the surface. I found startling flafor icing cakes and filling chocolates. It’s
vors in a couple that I had not noticed in
a great medium for chocolate, and a good
the bar. On retasting the bar I noticed
way to infuse flavors through the cream.
the flavors, but muted.
The idea of water replacing cream just
The Amano Madagascar 70 percent bar
seemed wrong. But the amount of water
was my favorite in a 2008 article about
new American chocolates. Allsop’s bonis crucial. If you add more and maybe a
bon pulls out the same deep chocolate
little fat, too, something compelling can
flavors, with tropical fruit and citrus, and
happen. After all, cream is mostly water.
a note of cinnamon on the finish. His also
The proof for me is in the “Pure” colhas something I had missed in the bar: a
lection of water-based ganache from British chocolate producer Damian Allsop
pronounced raisin note, clear as a bell.
The ganache tastes almost flavored.
(www.damianallsop.co.uk, about $31).
Ditto the Amano Morobe 72 percent.
Allsop was a pastry chef at very fine resI never noted a grapefruit taste in the bar;
taurants, Gordon Ramsay’s Aubergine in
in Allsop’s version I not only tasted, but
London and Joan Roca’s El Celler de Can
Roca in Spain among them, when he disfelt it, like the sharp acid tang when I
covered a problem: Chocolate had gotten Chocolate flavors are front and center in water-based ganache.
drink a glass of the juice.
a whole lot better.
I would point connoisseurs to two oth“For me, Amedei was the first that really blew me away,” Allsop says. ers of the six in the box (12 pieces made from six chocolates). The Pa“There are some great chocolates now. ... They are up there with great cari Raw 72 percent is powerful, and ranges from plum to saddle leather
and cigar flavors on the finish. It is barely sweet. Spring this on your
wine or single malt whisky: complex, completely individual.”
He took this new breed of couverture back to his kitchen. Instead of friend who likes the high-octane chocolates. At the other end of the
producing a more flavorful mousse, for example, he was disappointed spectrum is something I have not had before. An extraordinarily delithat much of the flavor had been lost. “You see, quality demands that cate chocolate, the Original Beans Piura 75 percent is pretty, with honwe change how we work. Nonflavored liquids [as opposed to traditional eyed floral flavors and an absence of bitterness unthinkable at these
cream, eggs and so on] were necessary to show character.”
numbers. In fact the only evidence of the high percentage is a distinctly
Success was not immediate: “Lots of kilos went in the bin.” But even- drying finish.
The recipe is different for each ganache. Each chocolate demands
tually Allsop came up with a water-based ganache, and started a
business. Of course he will not share his recipe, but he does explain it special handling. “I need to find the apex of flavor for each, and the
somewhat: “We use distilled spring water, salt to balance the flavor, glu- best chocolates are not consistent,” Allsop says emphatically. “I need
cose gives structure and sunflower oil adds fat without flavor. It has 10 to adapt the recipe all the time.”
to 15 percent less overall fat, but enough for structure and length.”
Though it does smack of invention and mad scientist stuff, Allsop
He points out that it contains more healthful fats, and also that dairy keeps a level head. “When you get really into something, you have to
proteins can inhibit metabolism of the antioxidants found in chocolate. understand it on that level,” he says. “But really it is old techniques as
well as new. Molecular gastronomy means not classic. Mine is still clasw i n e s p e c tato r .co m
sic, but I played with it a little. It’s really just about flavor.”
Members can reference our full archives of Owen Dugan’s columns, as well as
Owen Dugan is features editor of Wine Spectator.
other articles about chocolate, at www.winespectator.com/chocolate.
Wine Spectator • DEC. 31, 2011 – JAN. 15, 2012
Nat Davies