Photographer: Richard Eskite Photography/Photolibrary RM

The Secret to Making the Perfect Chocolate Ganache

La Maison du Chocolat’s Nicolas Cloiseau shares the tricks of the pricey trade.

Some food is straightforward: You cook a steak by putting a slab of raw meat on a hot surface; you make a cocktail by mixing one alcohol with various liquids; you scramble eggs by ... scrambling the eggs.

Other food, though, remains shrouded in mystery. What exactly is a paillard and why is it always outrageously expensive? How is a profiterole prepared without melting the ice cream inside? And what makes chocolate ganache so special that it doubles the price of regular chocolate?

We’ll leave paillard and profiteroles for another day. To answer the question of chocolate ganache, we turned to Nicolas Cloiseau, the creative director of La Maison du Chocolat and maker of the best truffle chocolate in the world. A La Maison du Chocolat chocolate bar weighs 0.17 pounds and costs $11; a single truffle ball of ganache—that luscious, melt-in-your-mouth mixture of melted chocolate and cream—weighs 0.02 pounds and costs $2.60. At that rate, a chocolate-bar-size truffle, perhaps covered in a texturally contrasting chocolate shell, would cost a whopping $22. (Cloiseau also claims, in a new book, to eat more than 13 pounds of chocolate a month, and he employs a “forager” who scours the globe looking for new taste notes in raw cacao.)

We met with him at the company’s Madison Avenue store for a tutorial on ganache making, which, it turns out, is a very simple idea (take chocolate, add cream and butter, and you’re done) that is entirely dependent on its ingredients. “The cacao we work with is very rare,” Cloiseau said, speaking through a translator. “It’s very delicate, and makes up only about 3 percent of the world’s cacao production.” After he walked us through the steps, the answer to its lofty valuation became clear: Chocolate bars are cacao paste and sugar. Ganache requires finesse, labor, and a careful calibration of proportions and technique.

Check out Cloiseau’s step-by-step tutorial. You can—and should!—absolutely try this at home.


Recipe for Chocolate Ganache 

Makes about 50 bonbons

1. Start with a bowl of 260 grams of roughly cut chocolate.

Start with a bowl full of chocolate. You can end there, too.
Photographer: Kate Krader/Bloomberg

2. Bring 150 grams of cream just to a boil, then pour over the chocolate.

3. Let it sit for 15 seconds while it melts the chocolate.

4. Start stirring with a whisk, with small movements in the center of the bowl.

Start whisking, making small movements in the center of the bowl.
Photographer: Kate Krader/Bloomberg

5. As the mixture begins to thicken, broaden your strokes.

6. “It should have a mayonnaise-type texture,” Cloiseau said.

7. Add 15 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature.

Add butter at room temperature for a nice silky shine.
Photographer: Kate Krader/Bloomberg

8. Stir until smooth.

What a lustrous consistency. Good enough to eat, or unintentionally rub into your shirt.
Photographer: Kate Krader/Bloomberg

9. Pour into a large frame, or “plaque,” and let cool for 24 hours.

When you somehow manage to screw up a three-step process, get help from one of the most famous chocolatiers on the planet.
Photographer: Kate Krader/Bloomberg

Congratulations, you’ve made your ganache! The bad news: That’s the easy part. Step 10 is what Cloiseau called “enrobing the ganache in chocolate,” and now might require professional materials.

11. Cut ganache into 50 pieces. Carefully.

12. Pour a tempered chocolate on top of the cooled ganache, and let harden. 

13. When things go south, go here.

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