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Everything you want to know about chocolate
Enrobing a cake (baker-speak for drowning it in ganache) is one of my favorite things in the world. From the very act of pouring out the molten chocolate to watching it flow over the edges, every step is immensely satisfying—especially my anticipation of that first slice.
Since dark, milk, and white chocolate all have different proportions of cocoa butter, each type requires a unique ratio of chocolate to cream to make a properly thick ganache. Classic recipes are a dime a dozen online, so here I'm stepping off the beaten path with a blond chocolate ganache.
If you're not already familiar with blond chocolate, it's a type of caramelized white chocolate, with a flavor like dulce de leche crossed with toasted sugar. It's a little time-consuming to make at home (though I have directions in my book), but it's easily purchased from brands like Valrhona.
For this ganache, I whisked two parts steaming-hot cream with three parts Valrhona Dulcey (available on Amazon). Boiling-hot temperatures can break the chocolate's temper—the stable arrangement of fat crystals that makes it look so shiny—resulting in a ganache that's greasy rather than glossy. For that reason, you'll want to keep a close eye on the cream while it's warming up, then pour it over a bowl of chocolate, rather than the other way around.
Whisk until smooth, then cool the ganache to about 74°F (23°C), at which point it will be thick enough to coat a spoon...or, more importantly, a cake. Or, if you'd prefer some big dribbles of ganache dripping down the sides, let the ganache cool down to about 68°F (20°C) instead.
The enrobing process is a crazy-simple affair: Place a crumb-coated cake on a wire rack nested in a rimmed half sheet pan, and pour about a pint of warm ganache on top. From there, gravity'll do the rest, sending the ganache over the edge in a cascade of chocolate. If necessary, you can gently nudge the ganache off the top of the cake with an offset spatula, or lightly tap the baking tray against the counter to create some vibrations that'll help move the ganache along.
After enrobing, the cake can be served immediately, or refrigerated instead to give the shiny ganache a matte finish. In either case, the caramelized white chocolate will add a beautiful golden color and butterscotch-y taste that will complement any cake, from chocolate or vanilla to coconut. The leftover ganache can even be chilled and scooped into simple truffles, or re-melted to use as a sauce, so there's no need to waste a single drop. (Not that I think you'd ever let that happen!)