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Artisan Chocolate truffles & the spices that love them: ginger root
Fresh ginger root is processed into many different food products, including powdered ginger for baking into cookies, breads, crackers, cakes, scones and biscuits, candied ginger for snacking, and pickled ginger, which is served along with sushi as a palate cleanser. You can also find ginger tea, ginger ale soft drink, and ginger beer, as well as countless other products. This article, however, is about pairing ginger with artisan chocolate truffles! Ginger has a very distinctive, pungent aroma, with a warm, spicy, exotic heat to the flavor. If you've never tasted raw grated ginger root, you're in for a surprise...it actually has a bit of a kick to it! Ginger root is ubiquitous and almost essential to Chinese, Indian, and many South East Asian cuisines, but many Chefs and Culinarians have stated that they feel the very finest ginger root comes from Jamaica. Wherever you get your ginger, the following formula will help you create a very unique different kind of chocolate treat!
Although very assertive, complex and challenging, when used with finesse, the wonderful, lively flavor profile of ginger actually pairs very well with many different foods and beverages. Bittersweet chocolate happens to be one of them. I cannot recommend pairing ginger with milk or white chocolate, because the ginger would simply overpower the ganache, and you wouldn't really taste any chocolate...but as in all things...to each his, or her, own. Personally I would pull out the big guns here, and choose a bittersweet chocolate over the 70% cacao content...preferably closer to 75%. Start with about 200 grams of your strongest chocolate, chopped fine. Put this in a mixing bowl, and set aside.
Then put about 100 grams of good heavy cream on a low fire, and grate about 1 - 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger root into it. Bring the cream and ginger just to the scald, and pour it through a fine mesh strainer, to remove the grated ginger. Then pour the hot strained ginger-cream over the chopped chocolate and stir in small circles until smooth and lump-free. If there are still a few small chunks of chocolate, just simply microwave the whole mixture in 5 second intervals at a time, until it is completely smooth. Microwave for 5 seconds at a time ONLY, because if you overheat the ganache, it will never set properly, and you will have wasted your time! Then, lastly, massage in about 10-20 grams of room temperature unsalted butter, until the whole mixture is creamy and homogeneous. Let sit for about 30-60 minutes, and then form small *quenelles with two teaspoons and sift an excellent cocoa on top. This formula will yield a sublime and ethereal ganache, with a sophisticated ginger-perfumed infusion, best reserved for those we love most in our lives.
*(process to form a quenelle with chocolate ganache: using one teaspoon, [a flatware teaspoon, not a measuring teaspoon] scrape along the top of a firmly set chocolate ganache until you have approximately a full teaspoon, roughly shaped into a small egg form. Then, using a second teaspoon in the opposite hand, scoop the quenelle back and forth between the two teaspoons until you get a nicely shaped "football" form...this is a very elegant way to present many different types of foods; i.e. dumplings, mousse, pate...even ice cream or mashed potatoes!)