Saturday, February 18, 2012


A few weeks ago, my husband, a friend, and I went to a chocolate themed cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu.  We made truffles, a flourless chocolate cake, and learned how to make ganache.

Ganache.  What a wonderful word it is.  Say it with me.... ganache.  C'est merveilleux!

It's such a fun word, the 10 year old has been walking around for the last few days saying "ganache" over and over again.  And then we giggle.  Because it's a word that just makes you smile.  How could you not?  It represents such wonderful things!  Cream, chocolate, vanilla and butter.  That's all it is.

To make ganache, you heat cream to boiling and then pour it over the chocolate in a bowl.  Stir until it's melted and well combined and then add the butter and vanilla.  Cool slightly so you can work with it.  When we made truffles, we used a pastry bag filled with the stuff and piped truffle sized amounts onto parchment paper and chilled, then we rolled the truffles after it had set up some more.

More ganache for the rosettes and a truffle in the middle!
So I made a cake for a birthday; a sour cream chocolate cake.  It's much denser than most bakery cakes and very moist.  Then I made a dark chocolate ganache for the frosting.  For the middle I used 1/2 c. heavy cream, 4 oz dark chocolate chips, half a teaspoon of vanilla and a tablespoon of cold butter.  For the top I used the same except it was 6 oz of the chocolate chips.  After I made the filling-ganache, I chilled the cake until I was ready to make the frosting-ganache.  I set the cake on the rack in my roasting pan and poured away.

It was a really great cake.  I'm sorry I don't have pictures.  By the time I thought about it, the cake was almost gone!  But I'll leave you with a photo of the cake I made at the class, which is prettier.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Drinking Day

It's terrific!  Nice little "pffft" when you open the bottle and it's just fizzy enough and tasty.  Hooray for homebrew!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bottling Day

This evening, while everyone else in New England was watching the Super Bowl, we bottled our beer.

After sterilizing everything (again) we siphoned a little out to check the specific gravity: 1.012.  This translates to an alcohol content of 5% or thereabouts.  We were ready!  Since we didn't have enough bottles my husband bought a case of 1 liter bottles with the snap-top caps and gaskets so we cleaned and sterilized those and decided we'd fill those first.  That's 12 liters.  That's a lot of beer.

After dissolving the priming sugar (necessary so that once in the bottles the carbonation step happens) we added it to our bucket and siphoned the beer into it to mix.  (We did taste a little.  Yep, tastes like beer.)

Filling the bottles with a flashlight to see when it's full
Then we moved this bucket up to the counter and got our bottles ready.  One of the more interesting things about siphoning is that if one of you is not paying attention, the other of you will end up spraying beer all over the kitchen and yourself.  Twice.  Heh.  Sorry....the clip is there for a reason!  It was around this time that the conversation went something like this:

Husband: Who's idea was this, anyway?
Me:  Um, yours?  Remember?
Husband:  Why didn't you talk me out of it?

Other than that, there were no major disasters, and we got all 12 liter bottles filled and capped and moved on to the standard bottles.  For this we needed a few more hands so enlisted the help of the 10-year-old to do the capping with the very large and scary looking bottle capper.  It took a few tries but eventually all went smoothly and we ended up with 12 of those bottles and then a half-bottle that we decided to cap anyway and taste it first.

For that, we have to wait 2 weeks.  Then it will be time to chill and serve!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Still Fermenting

The other day we transferred the proto-beer to the 5 gallon carboy (the second rack).  It's specific gravity was 1.015, which means it was not quite ready.  Our problem has been that we rarely see the little bubbles coming through the airlock so it feels like nothing is happening at all.  We even moved it closer to the boiler so it would be warmer, thinking that maybe the basement was too cold.  Regardless, I think we're close to bottling day so I spent this morning washing labels off a dozen beer bottles.  I have another dozen to go and then we might buy a few growlers since we don't have enough 12 ounce bottles.  (We need around 50-55 bottles for a batch.)

It's been a busy couple of weeks otherwise, so there isn't a whole lot of cooking going on.