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My Chocolate Life

caribbean-colors-of-cacao

Everywhere in the world there are tensions- economic, political, religious. So we need chocolate.Alain Ducasse

Hello! My name is Matthew Green and I have worked as a chef for the past 15 years, travelling around the world to work at some amazing restaurants. Chocolate holds a special place in my heart and almost a year and half ago I founded Explore Chocolate- my passion has become my business.

This is my first blog post! The idea behind this blog is partly to share with you the journey we are on at Explore Chocolate as we continue to grow. To share recipes and insights from myself, and from others in the industry; to document our progress and the eternal search for new, and in some cases better chocolate.

By better I mean better quality- for sure, but also better for us, better for the environment, and better for the people who grow & produce Cacao– without whom we would have no chocolate at all.

On the other hand it’s also a great way for you to get involved. I’m happy to share recipes and methods for making all things, sweet and savoury- chocolate or not! I’d like for you to share your stories, memories and relationships with chocolate. A chocolate community if you like. What could be bad about that?!

 

A little bit about me:
I’m sure we will get to know each other very well in the time to come, but here’s a potted history of my life & career so far.

Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire was my childhood home. It is also where I am now based with Explore Chocolate, but I’ve been on quite a few journeys in between! My apprenticeship was at the Palmichael restaurant in Burton Latimer where I gained experience and qualification, during which time I started studying at deMontfort University.

Living in Leicester I worked at The Case restaurant, meeting some great people and learning a different style of cooking. During the summer between second and third year I travelled to Puglia in Italy to work in a luxury hotel- a steep learning curve I can assure you since I spoke little Italian at the time!

After graduating I moved to Australia where I worked at one of the world’s best restaurants- QUAY in Sydney, and then an almond farm in Victoria. Two polar opposite experiences but equally satisfying and educational.

I moved back to the UK a few years ago and started Explore Chocolate in December 2016. We are steadily growing and I love every minute of my working week.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you back here soon for recipes, ideas and insights- as well as updates on our progress at Explore Chocolate

Taste Tuesdays

We are opening our doors on the first Tuesday every month for a unique chocolate tasting experience.

Join us to try new our newest creations and sample some of the finest chocolate from around the globe.

We will share with you some top tips for tasting chocolate and you’ll gain an insight into our creative process.

This is a great way to experience a wide variety of chocolates without having to buy an entire bar or box of each. Then there’s the added bonus of being around fellow chocolate lovers for an evening!

Places are limited for this monthly event so please contact us via email to book. info@explorechocolate.co.uk

Basic Recipes: Ganache

Ganache is a staple of chocolate work. It’s the first thing we make in our Introduction to Chocolate courses. Its soft creamy texture and the ease at which it melts in the mouth is one of the finest experiences in life! I’ve been meaning to get this post up for a while, so it feels good to be putting it out here.

The simplest way to describe ganache is “chocolate emulsion”.

It is cocoa butter, the natural fat in cocoa beans that makes chocolate melt when it gets warm and harden as it cools. This means if we want our chocolate to be soft when it’s cool we need to mix chocolate with a liquid. And that’s all a ganache really is.

Now there are some things to consider if we want to get great results every time. First of all it depends how firm or soft you want your ganache to be, and that will usually depend on what you’re doing with the ganache once you’ve made it.

The recipes I’m giving here are a rule of thumb for a medium-firm ganache which is quite versatile, but feel free to play around with the measurements to get the desired firmness for you. Just bare in mind the main principle above!

 

Secondly we need to make sure that the chocolate is properly melted with no lumps, and preferably tempered. (Another post is coming for the basics of tempering)

Next heat the liquid. I usually find it best to bring the liquid to a boil in a saucepan, so I know that I’ve killed any bacteria which may be present.

Let the liquid and the chocolate cool until they are ideally between 25-30°c and then start gradually mixing the liquid into the chocolate until you have a smooth and glossy mixture, that is the consistency of cake batter.

 

Now you can pour the ganache into a tub ready for shaping, into a frame if it’s to be cut, or into a piping bag for use later. Ganache should be left for about 12 hours to set fully at room temperature, but if you need it quickly you can put it covered in the fridge until it’s set.

This basic fresh ganache has a shelf life of up to 2 weeks.

White & Milk Chocolate

 

375g Chocolate

125g Whipping Cream

Dark Chocolate

 

330g Chocolate

170g Whipping Cream

Troubleshooting: If your ganache becomes split and oily then either the liquid or chocolate may have been too hot. This can be saved with a bit of elbow grease. Try whipping it together with a stick blender if it’s too much to do by hand!

Another way to save a split ganache is to add a tablespoon or two of boiling water and whip it together. This will of course add liquid to your ganache making it a bit softer.