Art of Darkness III

City Street

GUEST: Citizen

CITIZEN: [walking down the street, he comes upon various foodstuffs laying around] Hmm, carrots? Huh. Somebody left their carrots. Well, that's odd. A loaf of bread? Hey, Salami? In a tree? Hmm, that's funny. I'm not going to touch that.
    Huh? Chocolate? Chocolate? [spies a chocolate bar on the street] Gimme! Gimme! Oh, no, no, no, no. [it's being drug by a string, he pursues] Come back, little chocolate bar! Oh please come back! Please come back! Come on! Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! Choc ... [not looking he runs into AB's car door] Ow!

AB: Chocolate. Few foods fuel the fire of culinary desire quite like it. But you know, we've already done two whole chocolate shows. You remember, the lava muffins, and chocolate mousse, and brownies, and chocolate sauce, and ... [sighs] It's not enough, is it? Yeah, I know. I mean, after all, we are talking chocolate here.

Chocolate Bar

    Theobroma cacao: food of the gods. Well, there is one particular multi-purpose application that takes chocolate to heretofore unknown elevation. It's a simple, yet symbiotic formulation, and it's responsible for everything from frostings to fillings to, I don't know, fudge-sickles, to the most chocolaty device ever devised by man, the truffle. And I don't mean the kind that pigs dig up in France. It's so powerful that with just a little bit of know-how and a couple of basic tools, you can turn this humble bar of chocolate into seriously ...

["Good Eats" Theme Plays]

The Kitchen

GUEST: Federal Agent #1, #2 & #3

    The magical multi-tasker of which I speak is a binary entity that is more than the sum of its parts. The first part being chocolate! Okay. I guess you might have seen that coming. But let's take a closer look. You know, chocolate is complex stuff. Composed of cocoa solids, cocoa fat or butter, sugar, milk or milk solids, and assorted flavorings. However, not all chocolates are alike. And before you go messing around with this stuff, you better have your facts straight. Now although chocolate plays by a pretty loose set of rules in Europe, here in ...

FEDERAL AGENT #1: The United States a set of Federal regulations, the Standards of Identity, govern the composition and nomenclature of chocolate. Unsweetened chocolate is made from finely ground roasted coca nibs and contains nothing but cocoa solids and cocoa butter, a combination also known as chocolate liquor ...

    ... it should be noted, contains no alcohol whatsoever. Since it also contains no sugar, it's downright disgusting to eat straight up. Blech!

FEDERAL AGENT #1: Dark or bitter chocolate must contain a minimum of 35 percent chocolate liquor, less than 12 percent milk solids, and approximately 30 percent cocoa butter.

    This classification includes both bittersweet and semisweet chocolates. Though there is no legal distinction between the two, bittersweet usually contains more chocolate liquor and less sugar than semisweet.

AB: Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

FEDERAL AGENT #1: Milk chocolate must contain a minimum of 10 percent chocolate liquor and 12 percent milk solids.

    This is America's favorite eating chocolate. But since it's relatively low on cocoa solids and cocoa butter, it's not so good for cooking.

AB: Hey, what about white chocolate?

FEDERAL AGENT #1: Since it contains no cocoa solids, so-called white chocolate cannot legally be called white chocolate in the United States.

AB: Thanks for setting me straight.

    For today's demonstration we will stick with bittersweet chocolate, which is very predictable and darned tasty, if you ask me. The next ingredient? Whipping cream, which must contain between 30 and 36 percent butter fat. So what can we build with chocolate and cream? Quite possibly the most useful chocolate device in the world, ganache. Ganache is French for "jowl", which makes absolutely no sense to me. But, there you go.

'German chocolate', was developed by  Samuel German,
an employee at the first chocolate factory.

    Depending on the chocolate-to-cream ratio, you can produce a soft, medium or firm ganache. Now we're going to start with a medium ganache, which, as you might surmise, contains an equal amount of chocolate and cream. Now that's by weight. Now I'm going to make 2 pounds of ganache so I have here 1 pint of cream. Which is convenient because when it comes to cream and most other water-based liquids, "a pint's a pound the world around". Now I'm just going to bring this to a simmer, probably 3 or 4 minutes on high here in the microwave. Oh, and here's a little tip: always heat milk products in a vessel 2 times larger than the original volume just in case it bubbles over. Now on to the chocolate.

1 Pint of Heavy Cream

    I like working with a big bar of chocolate. No, you can't buy this in most mega-marts. But when you start getting really serious about chocolate, believe me, you'll be willing to do a little looking around. Although most large towns and cities have professional pastry supplies where you can pick up coverture chocolate in 10-pound bars, there is, of course, the internet, which sports a wide range of chocolate resources. Now wrapped tightly in foil and kept in a cool place, this bar will probably last me a year. Yep. Now, if you're not up for the mega-bar, you can always go with the little baby bars you find at the mega-mart. But just know that you're going to pay a lot more per pound, okay?
    Now chocolate is hard stuff. So cut by using a serrated knife. And instead of forcing it through with your hands, use a rolling pin or a mallet. Now I'm going to chop a lot because we've got a lot of cooking to do. Oh, and it's very, very important that you chop evenly and small. Big chunks will throw off the melting process, especially if you're melting to coat something. But more on that later.

    Ah, one pound exactly. Time to retrieve the cream. Traditionally, we would bring these 2 elements together, just in a bowl with a spoon. But I like using a food processor because it's fast. And since it's fast, it helps to establish and maintain an emulsion. Now just pour the cream over the chocolate and let this sit, without messing with it, for 2 whole minutes.

1 Pound Bittersweet

    You remember emulsions from our award-winning show, "Mayo Clinic", right? No? Fine. Wherever tiny droplets of fat are suspended in a water-based solution, there's an emulsion. Now in mayonnaise, oil droplets are held suspended in vinegar and water by emulsifiers present in the egg yolks; that's the little tacks there. Now in ganache, cocoa butter and butter fat are suspended in the water phase of the cream by emulsifiers in the chocolate.
    Now take an average bar of chocolate. It is, in and of itself, an emulsion. Manufacturers include small amounts of lecithin in their recipes to keep it that way. Now the reason this bar is solid, rather than mayo-like, is due to the fact that cocoa butter can form crystals at room temperature. More on that later. Let's spin some ganache.
    Three pulses should do the trick: one, two, three. Now just move this to a bowl and use. What are the options? Limitless. In this state the ganache is loose enough to pour as a glaze. But if you let it cool for, say an hour, you could whip it up good with your stand mixer until light and fluffy [frosting]. And then you could do things like this. [shows a muffin covered with the frosting] Mmmm.

In the 1700's, chocolate was sold in drug stores as a cure-all.

The Kitchen

    Whipped or not, ganache will keep for 2 weeks if tightly wrapped and refrigerated. If you decide to whip it after you've chilled it, just make sure you bring it to room temperature before putting the blades to it. Oh. Ganache can also be used for things like truffles.

In addition, whipped ganache makes a great filling for cream puffs.

The Woods


    The word "truffle" has two distinct meanings. First, it's the famed and funky fungus found in the ground around the base of hardwood trees—especially oak trees—in Italy and France. Pigs, whose snouts are keen, are often used to ferret the precious clumps from the substrate. But since pigs often consume the treasures they find, many foragers have traded in their pigs for dogs.

AB: [tries to encourage his dog to look for truffles] Here you go, girl. Go find it. Go find it!

DOG: [just walks around]

    "Truffle" also refers to a small ganache-centered confection that when rolled in a little bit of cocoa powder, closely resembles a fungus dug from the base of an Oak tree. Although you can use the basic ganache that we've already made to make truffles, if you use a softer ganache, the truffles will be even better.

AB: Okay, girl. Try finding these. Find these! Get ...

DOG: [eats the chocolate]

    I guess she never read that whole thing about how chocolate's bad for dogs.

AB: Come on!

The Kitchen

    Let's meet the software for Phase 1 of truffle construction. Ten ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped exactly like before. To that we will make an addition of 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. As for the cream, we'll only need half a cup, augmented with a tablespoon of light corn syrup and a quarter cup of brandy, but we'll get to that later.

10 Ounces Bittersweet
3 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tbs. Light Corn Syrup
1/4 Cup Brandy

    First things first, we must combine the cream and corn syrup and heat over medium heat. Now it is not going to take long for this small amount of liquid to get really, really hot, so keep your eyes on it. Why not do this in a microwave? We need it for the chocolate and the butter. Here's the thing: there's too much fat in here for the cream to melt. So, we're going to get a leg up on the melting process by zapping this on high for 30 seconds, then stirring it, and zapping it for another 30.

Melting times will vary depending on the power of your microwave.

    When your cream mixture has come to a simmer and your chocolate is just starting to melt, time to bring everything together. Just pour the cream over the chocolate and walk away for 2 minutes. Then stir in your brandy. It's going to take a little bit of time because it's water into fat. Then pour that mixture into an 8-by-8 baking dish.
    Why not just cool this in the bowl? Well, the mass here is evenly distributed. It's the same thickness all the way around. So, it will cool evenly and that will make for a smoother ganache. Trust me, it's worth messing up another vessel. Leave this alone for 1 hour.

Don't cover the dish or condensation may form and drip into the chocolate.

    Time to go over our pre-portion checklist. Parchment-lined sheet pan, check. Melon-baller or other relatively diminutive spherical portioning device, check. Spoon for pushing things around with, check. Got a glass with some hot water in it for easy cleanup and a dry towel. Check and double-check. Last but not least, the ganache itself, check.
    Rolling time's here, kids. Although ultimately we are seeking smooth orbs, all I care about right now is portion control and basic shape, okay? So scoop and use the spoon to get these things out onto the parchment paper. Do this as fast as you can so we can get them back into the refrigerator.
    Since these are so small, they'll cool very, very quickly. About a 30 minute rest will do, but no rest for us. We've got to tend to the chocolate that will form the outer shell of the truffle. This is where things can get a little bit tricky. I've got to clean up in here [the refrigerator], later.
    There are a lot of recipes out there that call for melting coating chocolate in a double boiler. Well, I don't like it for two reasons. One, it's impossible to keep the heat as low as it ought to be. And two, if any of that steam, even just a little bit, condenses into water and rolls down into that chocolate, the whole mass could seize up solid. Nope. I don't like it. Not one bit.
    You can melt coating chocolate in the microwave. The secret, though, is you've got to go very, very slow. You've got to be patient. Microwave on high for 20 seconds, take it out and stir it, go another 20 seconds, and stir it, and then go every 10 seconds until the chocolate just barely melts. Of course, all of this depends on how much chocolate, how big the chocolate pieces are and the power of your microwave. Too much math for me.

'Chocolate' comes from the Aztec word xocolatl, which means "bitter water".

The Kitchen

GUEST: Shirley O. Corriher, Food Scientist

    You can melt your chocolate over a heating pad set to medium heat. It takes longer, but I like the pad because it's gentle heat and it's completely dry so you don't have to worry about the chocolate seizing. Now the whole purpose of this exercise is to get the chocolate as close to 91, or maybe 92 degrees, without letting it go over 92 degrees. Why does it matter? Well, ask her.

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: It's all about crystals, just like a lot of candy making. The fat in chocolate, cocoa butter, is a complex mixture of fats, and when it crystallizes, it can set up in any 1 of 6 different polymorphic forms.

AB: Do you think you might employ some simplistic teaching device that would help me to understand the truth without confusing me with large words?

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: Yes. That's why I brought this along. [colored hexagonal foam]

AB: Cool! What are we going to make?

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: We're going to make crystals.

AB: Sweet.

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: If you want the chocolate on your truffles to be shiny and crisp and firm and not sticky, you have to temper to get the right kind of crystals to set up.

AB: Chocolate that's in temper means that the cocoa butter is all one kind of crystal.

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: That's right, they ...

AB: But there are other kinds of crystals.

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: Right, and they're sticky and gooey.

AB: And that's the good kind right there.

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: We want the stable, good kind of crystal.

AB: Well, I think I can do that. I can make a stable crystal. I learned this in Kindergarten. [builds his own crystal from the foam] Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh.

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: There. I've got a nice, stable crystal at room temperature.

AB: Me too, only mine's prettier. [she blows on AB's stack and it falls down] That was mean.

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: Science is a cruel mistress.

AB: Okay. So what shall I do, sensei?

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: Classic tempering. You have to melt all the chocolate. Take it up all the way to about 120 to 122, cool it all the way down to 89, and then heat it back up to 91.

AB: Well that sounds fun, doesn't it?

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: The easy way out, and I love your heating pad idea here ...

AB: Yeah?

SHIRLEY CORRIHER: ... is to keep it very even and not get it over 91 or 92.

AB: So I've got like a 2 degree margin of where the chocolate's a liquid but the crystals are still there.


AB: Got it. Okay. Thanks a lot, Shirley.

    So we know what we must do. We've got to keep this chocolate mass at, at least 90 degrees and hopefully no more than 94 degrees. And we have got to do some serious stirring so that we evenly distribute that heat, okay? Now you do not have to use a fancy-schmancy infrared thermometer. Of course, it does look cool. You can use just a regular instant-read thermometer, but it doesn't look cool.
    Now that our coating chocolate is stable and in a holding pattern, it's time to turn our attention to rolling the ganache centers. Now you do not have to have latex gloves for this, but if you've got hot hands, as I do, it certainly will make the going easier. I just pick these up at the local drug store. You want to make sure that you get the powder-free version though, okay? Latex powder or corn starch in ganache, not good eats. We roll!
    Now the goal is to go quickly, okay? And we're not trying to get these into perfect orb shapes, we just want them smoothed off, okay? Remember, they're named after things that look just like little clods of dirt. There. Now we want to work in a cool room, okay, because that makes all chocolate working easier. But we're not going to put these back in the refrigerator. If they get that cold, then when we dip them in the dipping chocolate, the dipping chocolate will shrink and crack. And come to think of it, that's not good eats either.

    As soon as you have your ganache balls rolled, time to face the assembly line: the melted chocolate and an ice cream scoop for application. You're going to need some final coatings. cocoa powder, the classic, maybe some toasted coconut, and maybe some crushed or chopped pistachios. Finally, you'll need a resting place. A snap-top airtight container lined with wax paper.

Dutch Process Cocoa
Toasted Coconut
Finely Chopped Pistachios

    A-truffling we will go. Grab yourself a center, and with the other hand, your scoop or spoon. I'm going to ladle myself some chocolate and then pour off the excess, okay? We're not trying to put a whole candy bar on the outside of this thing. Put the center in the middle, and just kind of spin it around with your finger. There. We're looking for a really thin coat. Now flip it over, looks good, and move that directly to the coating of your choice.
    Cocoa powder, of course, is the traditional truffle coating of choice. It's tasty and it also looks like dirt, which is what the original confectioners wanted, was for these things to look like the truffles that grow in the ground. Now leave that where it is. At this point, the chocolate coating hasn't hardened enough yet to pick it up. So just leave it until you have coated the next truffle.
    Okay, here we go again. A little bit of chocolate on the ice cream scoop, and swirl to coat. Now if you don't have the ice cream scoop, you can just do this with your fingers. The scoop just makes it a little neater. Now into the cocoa powder. There. Give that a bit of a shake to coat, and then we extract the earlier occupant. There we go. And into the snap-top container. Remember, if you want to apply the other coatings, you would put them on exactly the same way. Kind of toss, cover and pat. There we go.

Chocolate contains small amounts of a natural mood enhancer called phenylethylamine.

The Kitchen

    Mmm, truffles. As much fun to make as they are to eat. Well, almost. Now I'm willing to bet some of you are sitting there saying, "Truffles, that's fancy food for fancy-pants people like fancy TV chefs." Right? Okay, well let's just dance this ganache dance one more time, but with some modifications.

    Dump 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder into a medium sauce pan, then pour on 12 ounces of heavy cream and 8 ounces of whole milk. Bring that to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often.

2 Tbs. Unsweetened Cocoa
12 Ounces Heavy Cream
8 Ounces Whole Milk

    When it comes to a simmer, pour it over 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine, of course. Now let that sit for 2 to 3 minutes so that the chocolate can begin to melt. Then thoroughly whisk to combine. Go slowly or you'll slosh all over the place.

8 Ounces Bittersweet
    Chocolate Chopped Fine

    When it turns a nice, dark color, you know you're done and you can add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Always add that at the end to preserve the the vanilla's flavor.

2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

    As for hardware, you'll need some popsicle molds. Well, you don't have to, but you can, and they're available on the internet and a in lot of cooking stores. I like to use a turkey bulb-baster to fill those molds up. Clamp on the lids. Repeat in the other mold. Now get those into the freezer and keep them there for at least 4 hours or until set.

If you don't have molds you can use small paper cups and wooden sticks.

City Street

GUEST: Thing

AB: [stands at an ice cream cart] Hey. How ya doin'? Scorcher out, huh? Fudgesickle? Excellent choice!

THING: [rises from the cream cart and hands AB a fudgesickle]

AB: Excellent. There you go, one homemade fudgesickle. Go ahead, give it a lick. Tasty, huh? Oh, and if you ever find yourself facing a cold front, ...

THING: [hands AB a mug]

AB: ... you can always just melt that down, you know, in the microwave, a little mug action. Whisk it up and you'll have the best hot chocolate you ever had. [takes a sip] Ahh.

    You know, ordinarily at this point of the show, I'd say something like, "I hope we've inspired you to ...", you know, blah blah blah. Come on, chocolate? It's its own inspiration, and ganache is its finest incarnation. So go ahead. ganache yourself silly. Sky's the limit. After all, it is nothing if not good eats.

Transcribed by Mike DiRuscio
Proofread by Michael Menninger

Hit Counter

Last Edited on 08/27/2010