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Basic Chocolate Ganache

Ganache is forgiving. You can use milk chocolate or bittersweet, imported or domestic, outrageously expensive bars or supermarket chocolate chips. There is no such thing as a bad ganache.

6 ounces chocolate, finely chopped (if you're using chocolate chips, this is 1 cup)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or your favorite flavoring

In a microwave-proof bowl, heat all ingredients at full power for 30 to 45 seconds. Stir and heat again at full power in 15-second increments, stirring each time, until fully melted. Remove from microwave. Makes 1 generous cup.

Your options now:

Pour the warm ganache over ice cream. It will harden only slightly. This makes the best and least complicated ice cream sauce in the world.

Pour the ganache directly onto a cookie sheet (ungreased, please) and place it in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes, until firm. Remove from the fridge. Cut out small, pretty shapes with cookie cutters and serve these as they are, on a decorative plate. Tell your valentine you have slaved away in a hot kitchen over this homemade candy.

If you want to get really fancy, put the cut-outs one at a time in a bowl of unsweetened cocoa, spooning the cocoa over them to coat. Remove the cut-outs and serve on a decorative plate.

Pour the ganache directly onto a cookie sheet (ungreased, please) and place it in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes, until firm. Remove from the fridge. Cut into squares the same size as graham crackers. Serve on top of graham crackers topped with vanilla ice cream and marshmallows -- an elegant s'more for wintertime.

Pour the warm ganache into a fondue pot and place a tealight beneath it. You and your valentine can indulge in chocolate fondue by feeding each other slices of fresh fruit (the firmer, the better), slices of pound cake or even cookies.

Sunday, February 11, 2001

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