Sake Gumi

I failed. Utterly and completely. I've had some failures in the past but usually saved them from total disaster, but this time, there was nothing I could do...

Last week, Kayoko asked me to write about a Valentine's Day appropriate post, and I decided to make chocolate truffles. It's one of the simplest recipes you can find. All you need to do is to make ganache with chocolate and cream, cool it, scoop it, then roll it in cocoa. Who can fail this simple task, especially since I've tackled so many complicated recipes? Just like Kayoko's failure on her devils on horseback, it's so simple, which is sometimes the most difficult.

When I saw Chocolate Challenges on the Food Network, many of the pastry chefs talked about how warm the room was, which created a very difficult condition for chocolate. Chocolate? Condition? Too humid? What? I heard chocolate is somewhat of a science, and what happens next proves how sensitive chocolate is...

I bought a hunk of bitter sweet chocolate, and cut them into pieces. Heat up a cup of cream, and mixed them together to make ganache.

Something wasn't right. The recipe had a picture, and it looked very smooth, but mine looked like constipated shit.

I tasted a bit, and realized, I BOUGHT FUCKING UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE!!! At Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market, they sell hunks of chocolate, and each of them are categorized by sweetness, milk, semisweet, white, bitter, and unsweetened. I swear they screwed up the placement, or some customer picked up, but put it back on the wrong section. Unsweetened chocolate is very disgusting. I don't like super sweet chocolate, or, I don't even like chocolate that much in general, but the unsweetened kind is utterly gross.

I freaked out, and added a ton of sugar, more cream, hoping it would smooth out, and put them on a hot water bath. During this process, not knowing the disastrous consequences, I wanted to flavor the truffles, and added about a half cup of bourbon. Boozy truffles, what a great idea, right? From this point on, it got uglier.

As I kept mixing the chocolate mixture under the hot water bath, it started separating. I first thought bourbon needed to be incorporated better, so I whisked it over and over, but suddenly I realized I overdid it. Liquid part was oily from the cacao, not the bourbon... I was hoping once they cool down, it would go back to one piece. I poured them into a bowl, and almost puked by the look of them..

WARNING! If you are eating right now, don't look further...

This is NOT someone's diarrhea that I saved for some fucked up reason. This is utterly failed chocolate ganache. I didn't stage this picture, but this was the most perfect turd substitute I ever seen. Little nuggets on the side add a lot of reality as well.

This is something you see at a nasty bar bathroom, not on marble kitchen counter. If you need a fake turd, keep mixing chocolate, and you can make the most perfect ones. Milk chocolate might make a better color, though.

My idea was to make chocolate truffles, and use some left over ganache (before they cool too much) to dip into long stemmed strawberries. I tried to save the turd so that I can dip strawberries, but to no avail. I had to throw out the whole thing.

Luckily, I had a bag of semisweet chocolate in the pantry, so I could at least complete the chocolate dipped strawberries.

If you know the scientific reason of what I did wrong, please let me know. Was it unsweetened chocolate? Was it the cream? Sugar? Or was it bourbon? Was it temperature?

No one is perfect...
Column: Kitchen Follies


  • I poured all the liquid into chocolate at once, and it was tough, so I put more “cold” cream, and “cold” bourbon… That might be the cause… Also I have a feeling “hot” cream wasn’t hot enough… I might have to rebattle this case..

    Yamahomo on

  • Yamahomo,

    First off, I laughed my ass off at your chocolate turd-pile.

    Second, what you showed me reminded me of what a bad emulsion looks like — I’ve done something similar with homemade mayonnaise. I just consulted Harold McGee (author of the food science classic, On Food and Cooking) and here’s what he says:
    It’s best to add solid chocolate to hot liquid ingredients, or pour the hot liquid all at once onto the chocolate, rather than add the liquid gradually to molten chocolate. Seized chocolate can be salvaged by adding more warm liquid until the paste turns into a thick fluid.
    from On Food and Cooking

    tmonkey on

  • well, basically what happened was that the chocolate seized from the temperature in the beginning, was never recovered and then it just got super overdone by the time you were finished, as you said…

    i know all these ganache recipes say melt the chocolate over a double boiler, add heated cream and stir, but guess what? it NEVER FAILS to make the choc seize! grrr. back when i was in culinary school, my baking instructor ~ via verbal tirades/public embarrassment ~ taught us that for a 1:1 ganache, you heat the cream to scalding, pour it over the chopped choc, let sit for a few min, then stir stir stir. he would have threatened to kick our ass if we had done any diff b/c one pot of seized choc is expensive enough, then multiply that by 13 or so students, LOL.

    also, i use evaporated milk when i make truffle ganache as it’s less sensitive to heat, as well as the addition of sifted cocoa powder to the finished product (adds an amazing texture and silky quality).

    now, when choc seizes b/c of temp, there’s no saving it (when it seizes b/c of water, add some sifted cocoa powder and you’ll be golden), but sometimes you just need melted chocolate ~ like in the case of my opera glaze that i made today… ugh, long weekend ~ anyway! so again, i was taught to heat the water to a simmer sans choc, turn the heat on the water OFF, then place the bowl of chocolate over the water and stir stir stir. we also had to have a towel under the bowl to catch the condensation when we removed the bowl. this method takes longer, and god knows it’ll do damage to your arm, LOL, but it’s hella better than starting over.

    ugh, like you, my weekend was one full of chocolate and follies… when i get this contest entry vid edited, i am going to post all about it on my blog and you can come commiserate w/ me! =D

    kayce. on

  • Oh the photos….they look really gross…… I was lucky enough to taste the strawberry. Had not idea about the story behind it…..

    fuminatto on

  • OMG! Ewwww!! Awesome entry. I remember reading in Fine Cooking a few years ago about stirring the hot cream and choco mixture from the middle in small circles until you start seeing glossy chocolate ganache form…then you start stirring in bigger and bigger circles until everything is smooth. But what do I know, all I did was read a magazine.

    Sonja on

  • Yama- at least the strawberries are gorgeous!

    And I’m sure you’ll scoff, but the truffles I made back in Dec were really pretty good (and easy)

    Looking forward to the rematch!!!

    kayoko on

  • oh, sorry! even tho i wrote an effing book, i forgot one thing: i would have taken the bourbon and reduced the hell out of it and added corn syrup to that in order to sweeten the choc. ok, back to work for me…

    kayce. on

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