I despise chopping chocolate. This, right here, is my enemy.
I realize that food bloggers are supposed to have some sort of idealized, Anthropologie photo shoot type of kitchen and CIA-caliber culinary skills, but I am just going to level with you: I'm an awful and messy chocolate chopper.
It's likely because I have never really learned proper knife skills; in my kitchen, when it's time to chop chocolate, it's an ugly hacking scene which always results in a BOM (Big Ol' Mess) in my kitchen.
The thing is, chopping chocolate is NECESSARY for certain recipes. Say, ganache. You really need to chop the chocolate, because if you were to pour hot cream or milk on top of a big block of unchopped chocolate, it would never melt into a creamy, velvety ganache.
But guess what, my friends? There's another way.
Yesterday, as I faced with the task of chopping chocolate to make ganache for the bottom level of a pie, the idea of taking out a knife, chopping chocolate, and then cleaning up the inevitable mess I'd make simply seemed insurmountable. It seemed impossible.
But then, a little lightbulb went on over my head. I found myself wondering, "what if I put this big ol' block of chocolate in the oven for a few minutes, and melted it instead?". I figured that if I got the chocolate a bit melty, then I could just pour the hot cream on top of it and it would make an effortless ganache that would require no chopping.
Here's what I did:
Step 1: I preheated the oven to 200 degrees. Low!
Step 2: I grabbed an oven-safe vessel. I reached for a loaf pan, which in retrospect was probably not the best vessel, but it did work.
Step 3: I put a 6-ounce block of expensive chocolate inside of the vessel. I live for risk!
Step 4: I put it in the oven, and checked on it every few minutes. After about 3-4 minutes, it looked soft and was leaving a little puddle on the bottom of the pan.
After about 8-10 minutes, it had a slight "crack" on top and I thought to myself, "you'd better take this out of the oven".
As it turned out, when lightly touched with a spoon, the chocolate exploded into molten, completely melted chocolate. OK!
Step 5: I heated up some cream to the simmer point, and poured it in the loaf pan on top of the chocolate.
Step 6: I mixed it up with a whisk, cursing myself for choosing the loaf pan every time I spattered myself with chocolate (really not the best vessel for this project; next time I will use an oven-safe bowl).
Now, I know that in the food world, especially in the day and age of DIY everything, I should be embracing the process and never taking shortcuts.
But dammit, this worked! I didn't have to do the dreaded chocolate chopping, and my ganache came out beautifully. I poured it into my pie shell (this pie has another layer of chocolate goodness on top) and it set beautifully.
SO! Moral of the story is, if you're lazy and hate chopping chocolate like me, but you really want to make homemade ganache, you can use the oven to melt your chocolate instead.