Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Milk Chocolate & Lemon Balm Ganache with Ground Cherries

Chocolates, Reviews | 4th November 2010 | By

After my tea and chocolate tasting event last month, I was desperate to try making some ganache a la Marc Demarquette – was it really so simple to make a ganache that didn’t split and such a delicious one at that?  I’d had an idea about using lemon balm as a flavouring for a long time and my lemon balm was fast succumbing to winter’s chill, so it was now or never. I spent so long pondering on what I could use the ganache for, that I ran out of time to do anything other than just make it. I had some Chocolate by Trish to try, so with a couple of her milk chocolate 38% buttons to set me up for what I hoped was not going to be an ordeal, I set to.

This is what I did:

  • Brought 150ml of double cream up to the boil, threw in a handful of fresh lemon balm leaves, clamped the lid on and left for a couple of hours.
  • Melted 250g milk chocolate buttons (Chocolate by Trish 38%)
  • Brought cream up to near boiling point again, then poured on to the chocolate (through a sieve).  Added 1/2 tsp Cornish honey.
  • Used a whisk to gently stir, almost fold the liquids together until all incorporated into a beautiful glossy mass.
  • Placed 24 ground cherries at the bottom of some chocolate moulds then spooned the ganache over the top.
  • I left these to set, hoping I could turn them out cleanly – hey ho, best laid plans!

As can be seen from the photographs, they did not come out cleanly at all, but I did produce a beautifully shiny ganache which didn’t split – hoorah!  As befits a cook’s chocolate, these buttons melted beautifully, producing a smooth but not quite liquid pool of deliciousness. I nearly swooned as I  licked out the warm ganache from the bowl – it was every bit as good as Marc’s, though I say it myself.  Imagine a glorious mixture of creamy chocolate and toffee suffused with a subtle lemon undertone, that’s what I could taste. The lemon balm worked really well, it was present, but in no way dominated.  CT thought these were the apogee of unctuousness – definitely one to swirl around the mouth with a warm cup of tea.  He thought the ground cherries, nice as they were, seemed a bit superfluous.  I had to agree, these truffles would have been better savoured on their own with no distractions.  Coated in a good dark chocolate to make true truffles, they would also have been delicious, but I still haven’t quite got my head around tempering.  Christmas is fast approaching, however, so I don’t think I can put it off much longer.

Recently launched at Selfridges, Chocolate by Trish is a range of chocolate produced specifically for cooks and comes in the shape of buttons (which weigh a handy 5g each), shards or dust (cocoa powders). The paper bags are waxed inside and have a re-sealable top. Trish Deseine, the eponymous food writer behind the brand has also produced chocolate making kits.  All of her products are available at Selfridges.

The buttons were well balanced, creamy, rich and for a milk variety, strongly chocolatey – I could quite happily have eaten the whole 350g bagful.  Somehow, the flavour and mouth feel reminded me of a silky smooth good quality hot chocolate – nice!  I still have 100g of Trish’s buttons left so am looking forward to trying them in another guise.  I would also like to try her 64% and 74% dark varieties.

Birthday Cakes

It’s my birthday next week and in true birthday tradition I have to bring in cakes to work. What to make? Last year I think I did a strawberry and cream cake along with Expresso cupcakes. Cupcakes are good because they travel well, don’t need cutting and are easy to eat in a work situation. This time I plumped for Night & Day cupcakes from How to be a Domestic Goddess.

This year there is the added challenge of having a vegan in the team. It just so happens there is a recipe I’ve seen in Divine that I’ve been saving up for just such an occasion – Balsamic and Chocolate Cake. I’m a little bit nervous about this – a cake without eggs?
Vegan Chocolate Cake
  • Sifted 175g flour (used 1/2 wholemeal spelt and 1/2 white spelt) with 50g cocoa, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  • Mixed in 175g granulated sugar & made a well in the centre.
  • Poured in 100ml sunflower oil, 25ml cold pressed olive oil and 150ml warm water.
  • Combined liquid and flour then mixed in 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar.
  • Spooned mixture into a 21cm cake thingie and baked at 180°C (gas 4) for 30 mins. Turned oven off and left for further 5 mins. Cooled in container.

I needn’t have worried, the cake was delicious. It rose well, had a moist yet light texture and had a rich chocolatey taste with a slight balsamic twist. It was just as delicious two days later! I was advised by my vegan colleague that silken tofu mixed with melted dark chocolate makes a good cake topping so I might try that next time.

Night & Day Cupcakes
  • Creamed 75g granulated sugar, 50g muscovado sugar with 125g unsalted butter
  • Beat in 2 duck eggs alternately with 125g flour (1/2 wholemeal and 1/2 white spelt), 1 tsp baking powder and 2 level tbsp cocoa.
  • Stirred in 1 tsp vanilla extract with 1 tbsp milk and 2 tbsp warm water.
  • Divided into 12 cupcake cases and baked at 180°C (gas 4) for 20 mins.
  • Sieved 100g icing sugar.
  • Mixed in 100g cream cheese and 1 tbsp lemon juice.
  • Spooned onto cupcakes and decorated each with a chocolate coated coffee bean.