Yesterday my mom and I mixed up and poured six flavors of ganache:
Clockwise from top left, they are:
- Ginger milk chocolate ganache with bits of chopped candied ginger
- Whiskey-honey-milk chocolate ganache
- Cognac-honey milk chocolate ganache
- Pumpkin caramel ganache (milk chocolate) with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg
- “Gingerbread” ganache with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and molasses
- Caramel brandy ganache (milk chocolate)
This morning we mixed up three more flavors. The first was a two layer chocolate: a habanero dark chocolate ganache on the bottom, and a layer of mango-rum-lime white chocolate ganache on top. The second was a dark chocolate coffee ganache topped with hazelnut white chocolate ganache. The third was a flavor out of Peter Greweling’s Chocolates and Confections, “Spiked Egg Nog,” with nutmeg, rum, and vanilla in a white chocolate butter ganache.
After pouring the three new flavors, we cut and dipped five flavors, topped them with my new transfer sheets, and proceeded to have chocolate for breakfast:
The whiskey honey and cognac honey centers came out too soft to dip well, and I wasn’t thrilled with the flavor, so I decided to declare them a loss. They tasted good, but not “knock-your-socks-off” good, and I’m aiming to knock people’s socks off. But we dipped the ginger, pumpkin caramel, gingerbread, caramel, and “egg nog” centers, plus some dried apricots and candied ginger medallions. (My mom had never dipped chocolates before, and dried apricots/candied ginger are good things to learn the basics with – easy to do and good for getting the hang of things. By the end of the first hour, though, she was dipping chocolates like a pro.)
- The egg nog was the hands-down winner: a marvelous blend of nutmeg, vanilla, and rum, with the dark chocolate offsetting what might otherwise have been a slightly over-sweet center.
- The ginger ganache with bits of candied ginger came in second. I had never been satisfied with ginger bonbons because the flavor always seemed rather one-dimensional. It needed something else to round out the flavor. But what? Turns out that chopped candied ginger is just the thing to add a little textural interest and a more floral note to the bonbon. (Candied ginger is made with baby ginger, which is milder and more floral in tone than the mature ginger root sold in stores.)
- The pumpkin caramel ganache was also excellent, reminiscent (not too surprisingly) of pumpkin pie. I admit a conceptual attraction to the flavor: the “pumpkin” is actually butternut squash from our garden, and using homegrown produce in my chocolates just seems really cool. Also, our garden produced something like thirty-six butternut squashes, some of them five-pound monsters, so anything that uses up butternut squash sounds like a great idea, even if it’s only two ounces in a 90-lb batch of chocolates.
- The caramel brandy ganache came out nicely as well, and I may include them in this year’s flavor line. My main beef with the flavor is that it’s so classic as to be unimaginative.
- The gingerbread chocolates were largely a failure, due to a mistake on my part. I bought some “organic molasses” in the grocery store, not noticing that the fine print read “Blackstrap molasses”. Blackstrap molasses is powerfully flavored and not nearly as sweet as regular molasses, so the resulting chocolates taste mostly of molasses. But I think the flavor combination has a lot of potential and may re-try it next weekend.
And, of course, today’s ultra-adorable kitten photos: