Ganache has been the most tackled product so far. Ganache is any combination of chocolate + dairy. It is made either by pouring a simmering dairy product (typically cream) over mostly melted chocolate and whisking by hand to create an emulsion, or by whipping butter in a standing mixer and adding the melted chocolate. Sometimes alcohol is added to create different flavors (i.e. Grand Marnier). Each ingredient needs to be at the proper temperature to prevent the emulsion from breaking; shine and elasticity are the keys to a successful emulsion.
Once properly emulsified, the ganache can either be cast or piped. If cast (see photo at right), it sets up in the "chocolate room" at 17 degrees Celsius / 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with 60% humidity, for 24-48 hours. It is then cut into squares with the guitar, and dipped in tempered chocolate.
If piped (like Chef Sebastien is doing in the photo at left), the ganache is left to set in the same way as when cast. Next, each piece is shaped and rolled in tempered chocolate. For candies such as truffles, butter masses, and chocolate-covered almonds, the pieces are also coated lightly with cocoa powder.
The tempering process is a high priority for us. It's tricky to learn, but extremely important. Cocoa butter contains 6-10 different fat particles, and tempering is the perfect crystallization of those particles with the cocoa paste and sugar. Temperature is the most vital tool for successful tempering. The chocolate has to be melted, cooled off, and slightly reheated, all to specific temperature points. Successful tempering will yield chocolate that is shiny and has a definite "snap" when broken. If the temperatures are even a degree or two off, the chocolate will bloom, set incorrectly, and/or develop improper color.
Tomorrow we will continue cutting and dipping ganaches we have already made, and begin making Swiss Rochers and peanut butter chocolates...