Blog Post

Off with the Training Wheels!

Heather, my chocolate mentor, left me yesterday.

No, not for good, and not in a bad way either. We had a late delivery of much-needed chocolate, and the timing was such that she had to go, leaving me with about 240 ganache centers to dip in tempered chocolate.

Let me just take a moment to tell you about ganache, just because I’ve learned so much about it in the past couple of weeks. Ganache is the goodness inside a truffle, a creamy and buttery filling — mostly because it’s made with cream and butter — that carries whatever flavor you want in the confection. The flavors we use are all natural, so the ganache is made from real stuff steeped in the cream, like dried mint leaves, split and scraped vanilla beans, and ground smoked peppers.

The art of making ganache taste so good also requires a suprisingly scientific approach. A lot of what happens with a ganache, and with chocolate in general, happens on a molecular level and requires specific temperatures and lots of agitation and blending.

But that’s what makes them so good. I shared some truffles with friends and former coworkers on Thursday, and got some great reactions to the lavender vanilla (“I’ve never tasted lavender before, and this is amazing”),  single-malt Scotch (“This is great, but I be it would be even better with bourbon”) and the chile vanilla (“I want to buy some of these from you — right now”).

So there I was, just having sliced up 120 chocolate/vanilla and 120 mint ganache centers, got the chocolate properly tempered for dipping, and then Heather had to leave. She helped me get started, showed me how to put the candied lemon peel (which I made the day before) on the mint truffles and the sea salt and smoked paprika on the others (half on some and half on the other, not both on one).

How’d I do? Well, I think it turned out okay. I chased a few runaway centers around the chocolate, but none escaped completely. I made less of a mess than I did the other times I dipped. And I managed to get the toppings on while the truffles were still cooling.

(Not to say that I don’t still need Heather — she’s got a lot left to teach me!)

I’ve got a healthy supply of truffles on hand now, and I’m not yet open for business. But if you can find your way to South City, let me know and you can stop in for a taste.