I received Paul A. Young’s Adventures with Chocolate as a birthday gift. I’d never heard of Young before, but by perusing the text and images of this entertaining book, I discovered he’s a serious chocolatier with a bold streak of whimsy, as evidenced in part by such recipe titles as “Fig and Date Tarts with Cumin-Chocolate Syrup,” “Basil and Lemon-Thyme Ganache,” and “Honey-Cured Bacon, Stilton, and Chocolate Sandwich.” Most of the recipes in this book are must-tries, but I started with the Honey and Tahini Ganache with Toasted Sesame Seeds because it looked easy [read: required no tempering or dipping] and called for ingredients easily found at the supermarket — or at least I had initially thought so. . .
Recipe source: Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A. Young. Kyle Books, 2011. p. 52
Yield: About 40 pieces
- Scant 3/4 cup water
- 2 1/2 tablespoons strong clover or heather honey
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 12 1/2 ounces Caribbean 66% dark chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- Put chopped chocolate in heat-proof bowl. Mix honey and water together in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add tahini and simmer for two minutes. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Young says to then “allow to cool before refrigerating for at least 2 hours to fully set the ganache,” but I’m not sure if that means to let it cool for two hours or refrigerate for two hours, or if it really makes much of a difference either way.
- “Take the ganache out of the fridge, and, using a teaspoon, scoop out uneven quenelles and immediately roll them through the toasted sesame seeds.”
- “Serve at room temperature and eat within 3 days.”
- Not that I had time for an intensive honey search, but I had no luck finding heather honey, and I have no idea what “strong” clover honey is. I happened to have some Whole Foods Amber Wildflower honey on hand, so I used that. It has a much sharper taste than regular supermarket honey, but I don’t know if it’s a good substitute for the specified honeys.
- The ganache kept breaking, even after a good, long whisking. So as it cooled, I re-whisked it every five minutes or so. Finally it cooled off and stopped separating, at which point it looked like and had the texture of yummy chocolate frosting. I put it in the fridge overnight, which was apparently a big mistake because . . .
- The next morning the ganache was nearly rock-solid, and letting it sit at room temperature for two hours did not help soften it. When I’ve faced thicker- or harder-than-desired ganache in the past, I re-heated the ganache, added more cream, and let it cool again. This time, though, I had no time for such shenanigans and I wasn’t sure what actually caused the ganache to solidify so — was it the incessant whisking while it cooled, the overnight stay in the fridge, or perhaps the brand of tahini? It couldn’t be the type of chocolate I used, since Valrhona’s Caraibe 66% pretty much hits the chocolate mark specified by Young.
- Even if I were experienced in forming quenelles (and I certainly am not!), there’d be no way to get a teaspoon into the ganache, let alone have it slide through the solid mass easily enough to get a pretty quenelle going (the book has a photo of what the finished quenelles should look like). So, I took out my trusty ganache scoop and started making regular truffle-sized portions. Wearing food-service gloves, I rolled the portions into balls and immediately rolled them in the sesame seeds — apparently the hand-rolling warmed the outside of the balls enough to allow the seeds to stick. The ganache never saw the inside of a fridge again!
- I really liked the light, nutty flavor of these chocolates, and the sesame-seed coating lent a nice visual and textural contrast. But I was initially disappointed by the super-firm texture of the ganache, as it was more like a fudgy, slightly crumbly brownie than a smooth, creamy filling. Though I’ve never made ganache that wasn’t poured or spread over something or wasn’t dipped in chocolate, I realize that ganache that you can eat with your fingers has to be firmer than ganache used in these other applications. But I don’t know what the optimum texture should be. Either way, I started to become more and more enchanted with these chocolates and came to enjoy them as slighty out-of-the-ordinary fudgy, nutty treats.
- The ganache, which was permanently removed from the fridge on Saturday morning, was still perfectly fine by Tuesday evening, when I devoured the last one.