Adventures in Ganache*

I ditched the housestaff Halloween party on Friday in favor of baking pies to take to our own Neuro-IM Halloween/birthday/engagement/let’s-just-have-a-party party.

2015-10-31 16.48.18

Aside from the storebought chocolate crust, all of that was made by hand! A giant can of pumpkin puree, two cans of evaporated milk, a bunch of spice…. and chocolate. Oh god, the chocolate.

My idea, you see, was to do something like this, piping chocolate on the pumpkin pie to make a spiderweb design. So I bought Ghirardelli’s chocolate (mistake #1: should have done a trial run with the cheapy stuff!) and went to work.

The recipe, and all similar recipes I found online, has you zap the chocolate in the microwave to melt it. Fair enough. Except I tried that and succeeded only in scorching my chocolate to death. Seriously, when I pulled it out of the microwave it was smoking so hard I thought my fire alarm was going to go off. So then I tried again, with a makeshift bain-marie/double boiler constructed out of my piping bag:

bain marie

Took about half an hour, but I finally got enough chocolate to melt. Piped the pie on the right with non-equidistant lines…. spatial reasoning was never my strong suit … and put it back in the fridge to set.

But as I was piping the pie on the left in that picture, the resistance in the piping bag started to climb, and climb…. I pressed harder and harder …. and the coupler and tip went flying across my kitchen, schmearing chocolate on everything including me. (Thank goodness I wasn’t be-costumed yet!) Turns out a piece of unmelted chocolate had wedged itself in there and had blocked up the tip until everything exploded. Like when a patient is constipated and then has overflow diarrhea around the blockage. (You’re welcome for that visual analogy in a post about food.)

So now, my pie was covering in goops of chocolate, which was setting fast. I had to think quickly. Grabbed a knife outta the drawer and began spreading the chocolate across the top like icing. A very dark, bittersweet icing. I had to remelt more chocolate (another 30 minutes!) because I didn’t have enough to cover the whole pie … good thing I bought extra (expensive!) chocolate!

Then it looked sort of boring and plain, so I softened cream cheese, dyed it orange with food coloring, and piped a carved pumpkin face. It looks sort of yellow-white in that photo, but it real life was bright neon orange. Like HELLO I AM A PUMPKIN PIE.

Morale of the story: things go wrong unexpectedly, a little flexibility saves the day. Not unlike residency, actually. But pumpkin pie is waaaay more delicious.

* Astute cooks will recognize that this is not ganache. Actual ganache has cream and therefore remains soft and spreadable, doesn’t harden within minutes like pure melted chocolate. But ganache sounds fancier than “That melted candy bar,” and so ganache it is.


Rain = baking!

I had a golden weekend, but because it’s been the wettest summer on record, the Gods of Rain once again ruined my plans to go hiking.

Not that I’m complaining, mind, because I used the opportunity to make some wondrous messes in the kitchen.

Continue reading “Rain = baking!”