Just like Super Glue or duct tape can hold anything together in the non food world, I am convinced that chocolate ganache can shore up just about any dessert mishap. Trust me, I have put it through more than its share of test trials, and chocolate ganache can and will most assuredly save the day. Your cake is a bit on the dry side? Chocolate ganache! Is there a crater running through your cake the size of the San Andreas Fault line? Chocolate Ganache! I think you get the picture. You’re smart like that.
This Sunday Dinner, my mother was making her after Thanksgiving family fave….creamed turkey on toast served with mashed potatoes and any other sides that were served on the BIG DAY. It is the epitome of comfort food and all of us who eat it, feel very lucky to be at her Sunday Dinner that night. I was in charge of bringing dessert.
I decided that Boston Cream Pie would be the perfect choice to compliment her dinner. For those of you who are not entirely familiar with this spongy, custard filled dessert, it is actually a cake, not a pie. Yay for that because even though I might be the biggest pie fan of all times, I was done for the time being with the whole pie thing after Thursday and was ready for something different.
To my dismay, when I was in the middle of making my cake, I realized I was very low on baking powder and came up 1/4 of a teaspoon short. One other problem I ran into were directions that simply went against my baker’s intuition.
My recipe from Gale Gand of Food Network fame demanded that I beat my batter for 3 minutes! That seemed odd to me. Usually gluten forms when over mixing cakes and thus they tend to come out a bit tough, but she is one of my all time favorite icons from the Food Network back in the day when Emeril was their only star. If Gale told me to mix on high for three minutes, I’ll be damned if I was going to tell her, “No!”.
Well, I should have told her no because my cake was just a hair tough. My missing baking powder probably didn’t help the entire equation either. But, just when I thought all hope was lost for a delectable dessert, my dark 72% chocolate ganache came to save the day.
After topping the first layer of cake with the beautiful vanilla custard, I slathered a thick, decadently dark chocolate ganache over the top. Of course, with the little dollops of left over ganache, just sitting around waiting to be useful, I stuck a finger in and tasted it. HEAVEN! Things were beginning to look up.
The oh-so-dark chocolate pairs with the creamy vanilla custard better than any famous couple in history. The sponge cake was there for the ride and it was very good, but next time I know that I will only mix it for a minute and will be sure to have ALL my ingredients on hand.
Here is my little list of things that Chocolate Ganache can fix.
1. Cracks in cakes…use it like spackle.
2. A frosting that didn’t turn out right…just make Ganache and toss the frosting.
3. Ugly cakes. Pour over and voila, you have a beautiful cake.
4. One very bad day. Dip strawberries in it and your day instantly gets better.
5. Jazz up any cookie for a party by drizzling thinned chocolate ganache back and forth over a sheet of cookies. Helpful hint, use a cooling rack and place a piece of foil below. Makes for easy clean-up.
6. Bringing a fruit platter to a party? Have a pretty little bowl filled with chocolate ganache along side it. Your fruit will be memorable.
Do you have any Chocolate Ganache ideas to add?
Boston Cream Pie
from Gale Gand at http://www.foodtv.com
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pastry cream, recipe follows
Ganache, recipe follows
Pastry Cream Filling
2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate…I actually used good quality bittersweet (72%)
1 cup heavy cream, boiling
For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Beat an additional minute on medium speed and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the egg white mixture and fold in. Gently pour the batter into a 9-inch greased cake pan. I like to cut a circle of parchment paper by tracing the bottom of my cake pan. Then I butter my pan, place the parchment paper on top of the greased pan, and then butter the parchment paper as well. Flour the entire pan and knock the pan upside down over the sink to remove excess flour.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Invert the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
Pastry Cream Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.
Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)
Ganache: In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
To assemble pie, remove the cake from the pan. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place bottom layer on a serving plate or board, and spread with the pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Spread chocolate ganache over the top of the cake. Store in refrigerator.