Most of my ganache recipes are made from chocolate as high in cocoa solids as 85% dark chocolate, and as low as 38% (for milk or white chocolate). But I have thought about experimenting with 100% dark chocolate over the years, in case that happens to be all that's on hand one day (and a sad day that would be!). I also think it is important to learn to make ganache from naturally-origin flavoured 100% dark chocolate liquor, in order to control the quality of the entire product from start to finish, and the ingredients used, including the type of sugar to sweeten it.
So I got to experimenting. I had kilos and kilos of milk, white, semi-sweet and 70% bittersweet chocolate on hand, and even some 85% bars, but not much 100% dark chocolate. And just when I thought all hope was lost, I remembered that I had one box of Camino 100% Cacao Baking Chocolate on hand, with 200 grams (2 bars) of chocolate inside. That gave me just enough to test my recipe idea twice. I also did some testing with a few bars of 85% dark chocolate, to see if I could create a nicely sweetened ganache using a chocolate that bitter, which worked out beautifully.
The challenge in using 100% dark chocolate is the sweetness, and how to add sugar without adding a grainy texture to the ganache. The trick is to melt the sugar into the cream, and ensure it fully dissolves before pouring the cream over the chocolate.
Now, if you are a purest and you want to enjoy a ganache with no sugar or sweetener at all, simply eliminate the sugar from the recipe below. Just be sure you disclose a warning before serving to others; most people prefer some sweetness in their truffles (even those Paleo lifestyle folks want a little sweetness sometimes, even if just a few percent).
If you want your chocolate with sweet, but with no cane sugar whatsoever, you can replace the sugar in the recipe below with the same measurement of agave syrup. I tried it both ways, with cane sugar and agave and both were quite nice. There is also liquid coconut sugar now in jars (see pic) and dry coconut sugar, which is a little harder to dissolve, but it still works. Keep in mind that will add a slight coconut flavour and be a little less sweet. In my opinion, agave syrup is best as an alternative.
So let's get started on the recipe!
Dark Chocolate Ganache made from 100% Dark Chocolate
With options for No Cane Sugar Ganache and No Cane Sugar Truffles
Makes: 20 truffles or ganache topping for one 8" cake
- 100 grams (3.5 oz) 100% dark chocolate
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar, or agave or coconut sugar (for No Cane Sugar Truffles)
- 1/4 cup whipping cream (any heavy cream will do)
- Optional ingredients (see below), but not necessary.
- 200 grams semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, if dipping in chocolate. Or 1/4 cup cocoa powder for dusting
1. Chop the chocolate into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a medium bowl (use microwavable safe just in case you need help getting the chocolate to melt).
2. Pour your cream into a small saucepan and place on an element on the stovetop. Heat on medium high. Add the sugar and stir, heating and stirring until it dissolves. If using, add the vanilla, mint or coffee extract.
3. Do not let the cream boil, just bring it to nearly a simmer then immediately pour half of the cream over the chocolate. Stir until you get a smooth and dark chocolaty-looking mixture, but with large lumps of chocolate in it.
4. Then reheat your remaining cream and pour into the mixture. Stir until smooth. If lumps still remain, microwave for five seconds (not more!) and stir again until the mixture is smooth.
Immediately pour over the cake and spread to the edges. You can even let it drip over slightly, if you are not decorating the sides with icing.
Line a small box, container or half of a loaf pan with plastic wrap, letting it come up all the sides. Pour your ganache into it and let sit 6 to 8 hours (or overnight) if dipping them in chocolate (you don't want to put ganache for dipping in the fridge at all or it will cause cracking in your chocolate shell). If you simply want to roll them in cocoa powder, you can let your ganache set in the fridge for 4 hours.
Once set, remove the top plastic wrap from the ganache. Then flip the rectangle of ganache out onto a cutting board. Cut into 20 pieces. You can leave these in rectangular or square shapes, or you can roll them between the palms of your gloved hands to make truffle balls (without gloves you will melt the truffle, plus there's that sanitary thing).
Dip in 200 grams (6 oz) of melted, tempered, semi-sweet chocolate, or roll in cocoa powder.
Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days, or freeze for up to 6 months in a deep-freeze (only 2 months in the freezer attached to your fridge).
Stir in 2 tbsp. of softened salted butter (warmed but not melted) to the ganache just when it becomes smooth.
You can add a 1/2 tsp of real vanilla to the cream, but I did not like it when I did. If you are used to eating chocolate with a lot of vanilla flavour (i.e. Lindt, Godiva, Giradelli, etc.) then you might prefer a little vanilla. For a high vanilla flavour, add both extract and the scrapings from one vanilla bean.
Add 1/2 tsp peppermint extract or just 2-3 drops of peppermint oil to the cream.
Coffee Ganache or Espresso Truffles:
Steep the cream with 1/4 cup lightly ground coffee or espresso beans for 15 minutes. Simply heat the cream in your saucepan, then remove from the heat, add the ground beans to the cream, and place a lid on the pot. Let steep. Then reheat and run the cream through a sifter as you pour the cream over the chopped chocolate to remove bean pieces. You can use a 1/2 tsp of instant coffee in the cream instead, but there will be that funny 'instant' taste from the coffee.