At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Thursday, 21 August 2014


And now, it is about time, I think, to dedicate a whole entire post to that heavenly chocolatey concoction to which the Ganache-Elf derives her namesake from. I hope you don't think I'm overly-enthusiastic about it. But I don't think it's possible, really, to stress just how wonderful ganache really is. For one thing it is incredibly versatile and can be used in so many different ways. Undecided as to what to smother your rich dark chocolate fudge cake in? Looking for some kind of icing to top your cupcakes with; one that will not only taste as if it's been made in heaven but also looks incredible and can be piped and swirled upon your buns in gorgeous chocolatey waves? Looking for an ideal sauce to pour oven your favorite ice cream...or are you just really, really crazy about chocolate (as I am...) and just want to whisk up something up really, really quickly and easily; that something being of extreme and satisfying chocolatiness which you can literally consume straight from the pan...?
Well, for all of these purposes and many more, ganache ticks all the right boxes. It's a sauce, an icing, a topping, a dessert, and a chocolate-cravings-instant-buster all in one, really. And of course, the other really awesome thing about it: all you need is two ingredients; only two. Those being of course cream and chocolate. Classic chocolate ganache is made with plain or dark chocolate, but that doesn't mean that you might not want to experiment and make milk or white chocolate ganache. I have no preference for any of them: I love them all, and make them all on a regular basis. Though with the dark chocolate ganache, you do get a lovely glossy shine to it, which I do find most gives a wonderful finishing touch to your completed cakes, etc. Though with the milk chocolate ganache, a pretty glossy sheen can be achieved too. Not so much with the white chocolate one, but please don't let that put you off making it; as it does, if made properly, have the potential to look spectacular, too: the colour contrast on top of a dark coloured bun, for example, would look pretty amazing. And of course...feel free to make all three types of ganache at the same time; or perhaps dark and white, or so on. A cake smothered generously in layer upon heavenly layer of different shades of ganache really is a glorious sight to behold indeed..
Shall I proceed to enlighten to anyone out there who is not yet familiar with ganache and how to make it? Yes, I think it is high time that I should, and then perhaps you will be able to forgive me for my continuous ramblings on about how wonderful it is. But on that score I firmly refuse to back down.
Ganache-Elf's guide to making the perfect ganache. :)
For dark chocolate ganache,  you will need about 200g of plain chocolate (i use the Aldi one...and yes, it is not above the 70% cocoa solids mark. But does it go funny when you melt it? No. Does it make awesome ganache? Oh, yes. And it's only ninety-nine cent for a 200g bar.) and about 200-225ml of cream (single or double). It depends on your personal preference really...obviously, if you use 200 g of chocolate to 200ml cream, you will have a very intense, dark, chocolatey ganache with a deep dark hue to it...I love it like that and so I usually keep the two quantities equal, but, if you want your ganache a little less dark, perhaps go for the larger amount of cream.
  1. Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Break the chocolate into chunks or squares and then add to the cream. Place the saucepan on a very, very low heat on the hob and allow the chocolate to melt, stirring now and again. When the chocolate has completely melted give it one good stir until smooth, satiney, and oh-so-gorgeously-chocolatey...
  2. Now, what you do next depends on what purpose you have in mind for your ganache. If you are making it to use as a hot chocolate sauce, then simply serve straight away: drizzle (no, actually, don't drizzle: that word is too frugal. POUR it: be generous. ;) ) the ganache while it is still warm over ice cream, brownies, profiteroles...but perhaps try to reserve SOME of the heavenly chocolate sauce if you can, for I can guarantee that you, or whoever you are eating the ganache-smothered dessert with, will be going back for seconds. ;) Of course, please don't feel obligated to make ganache simply as an accompaniment to a dessert. after all, it has its own right to be classified as a dessert by itself, I believe. Who's to stop you from simply making a saucepan of ganache, getting a few spoons for yourself and your companion(s), and getting stuck in? Oh, well, perhaps you don't have a companion...but that doesn't mean you can't make it for yourself, right? ;)
  3. If you intend upon using your ganache for decorating or icing, and have resisted the temptation to eat it all straight from the saucepan (congratulations to you if you have done so ;) ), then it's a good idea to chill the ganache until it's firmed up a bit and is of a nice spreadable consistency. So once the saucepan has cooled off a bit pop it in the fridge for a few hours to allow this to happen. Usually, I would give it about two to four hours. After a couple of hours take it out of the fridge and give it a little stir with a spoon. If you want to spread it over cakes or buns, then you want it to be a nice, thick, spreadable consistency: not too hard, though; just thick enough to spread or swirl; about the consistency of chocolate spread or such like. For piping, chill it for perhaps just a little longer: but again, try not to let it get too hard. Chill and remove every hour until you are happy with the thickness of it.
And of course you can make a smaller or bigger quantity of ganache. The amounts stated here will produce enough ganache, I would say, to top maybe about 12 buns, or cover a whole chocolate cake. My advice would be, though, to not be too frugal when it comes to applying the ganache; so be careful if you do go for the smaller amount; you don't want to end up having to be too stingey. And besides, if you do make the greater amount and have some left over...that's not necessarily a bad thing, at all. For yes, ganache, once made, can be covered and refrigerated in the very saucepan it was made, to be utilised at a later stage! Simply cover with the saucepan lid or some clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for up to a week. On the day you want to use the ganache, remelt it over a very, very low heat on the hob, stirring now and again. Now it is just as if you have made it from fresh, really, so follow the instructions outlined above depending on what you want to use it for. Similarly, if you accidently let your ganache get too firm for spreading, all you need to do is remelt it and chill one more. Once you have done this, though, try to use up the remelted ganache asap. I have, needless to say, made and remelted ganache three times before, and nothing bad happened. ;) but still I would recommend not melting it more than once. It loses some of its lovely shine, anyway, the more it is reheated. :)
Oh, and of course, we mustn't neglect the other two types of ganache; milk and white. The ratio of cream to chocolate is again different here, and with the white chocolate one especially, care is needed to make sure the chocolate doesn't go all gritty and weird on you. (that has happened to me before with white chocolate, and it caused me much grief. After all, once it's gone like that, there isn't really anything you can actually do with it. Even eating it yourself isn't really possible. And what could be worse than seeing chocolate go to waste...the very thought makes me cringe. :( ) So please, please, please DO NOT make white or milk chocolate ganache using the method described above, or that could quite possibly result in tears and groans and no ganache at all. Instead, follow these instructions carefully...
  1. Pour the cream into a small saucepan. For white chocolate ganache I usually use about 125 ml of cream and 200 g of white chocolate (I did use Aldi once and it worked out ok, but usually, unless I'm feeling brave, I use Milky Bar white choc just in case to minimise the chance of disaster... ;) For milk choc, use 125 ml of cream and 200g of milk choc. (I use always works perfectly :) but it's up to you really; you might like to taste that distinctive taste of Cadbury/Galaxy in your ganache. ;) ) Break the chocolate into small pieces or squares.
  2. Place the saucepan over a low-medium hear, stirring now and again, and slowly bring to the boil. AS SOON as you see bubbles remove it from the heat. 
  3. Add the chocolate to the pan, wait a few minutes, and then stir until it's nice and smooth. NOW you can relax a bit and follow the instructions for plain choc ganache from step 2 above. Though do keep an eye on the ganache if you are chilling it for decorating, as I've noticed the milk choc and white choc ganaches seem to take less time to firm up than their plain choc cousin.
Now, done. I promise I will TRY not to blah on about the fabulousness of ganache from this point onwards. Please note the TRY part. ;)

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