Chestnut ganache laced with cognac is cut into individual bite-sized pieces and coated with fine dark chocolate. Tempering the chocolate makes it shiny and smooth. There are many websites with special equipment to hold the individual ganache pieces for dipping, and racks for cooling the covered candies; however, you can also use a small fork, like a pickle fork, to hold the ganache for dipping and a simple cooling rack with closely-set wires. Use the best quality chocolate you can obtain. Work in a cool, dry room so the chocolates can set well. The website for Jean-Paul Hevin Patisserie is www.jphevin.com.
- Chestnut confit (available online) - 1 cup
- Cognac - 1 tablespoon
- Sugar - ½ cup
- Salted butter - ½ cup
- Inverted sugar (trimoline) or simple syrup - 2 tablespoons
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Dark or bittersweet chocolate - 1 cup, finely chopped
- Milk Chocolate - 1 cup, finely chopped
- Dark or bittersweet chocolate - 8 ounces, fine quality, (minimum 60%)
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- Confectioners sugar for dusting
To make the ganache: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a 1-inch plain tip.
Combine the chestnut confit and cognac in a small bowl and set aside.
Put the sugar into a heavy saucepan over medium heat and let it caramelize, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and watching constantly. When the sugar darkens and the first wisps of smoke rise, remove from heat. Stir in the butter.
In a saucepan, combine the inverted sugar or simple syrup and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir the cream into the caramel mixture. Pour into a mixing bowl and let cool to 110° to 115°F;the caramel cream should not be too hot when added to the chocolate.
Put the dark and milk chocolates in a heat-proof bowl and pour the warm cream mixture over the chocolate. Let stand 30 seconds to soften. Stir slowly and gently with a wooden spoon or spatula from the center of the bowl outwards. When the chocolate is melted and the cream is incorporated, stir in the chestnut mixture. Put the ganache into the pastry bag and pipe long straight strips of ganache onto the prepared baking sheet. Let cool until set and firm.
To prepare the chocolate coating: Temper the chocolate: Shave two tablespoons of the chocolate and set aside. Chop the rest. In the top of a double boiler over not-quite-simmering) water, melt the chopped chocolate and heat to 110°F; do not exceed 115°F. Do not let any water come in contact with the chocolate. Remove the pan from the hot water bath and stir in the shaved chocolate until the mixture has cooled to 90°F. Set the pan on a heating pad set on low to maintain the temperature at 90°F.
Line a baking sheet or counter top with parchment paper and place a cooling rack with a closely-spaced wire grid on top. Put cocoa powder in one small bowl, and confectioners sugar in another. Heat a knife in hot water and wipe dry. Cut the ganache into 1-1/2-inch pieces. Dust with cocoa powder to keep the pieces from sticking. Holding a piece of ganache on a small fork or a chocolate dipping wire, dip it into the melted chocolate. Lift it and let it drain. Dip again for a thicker coating; test to find your personal preference for the thickness of the coating. Place on the cooling rack to set.
When cooled, sprinkle with cocoa powder or confectioners sugar.