In pastry, “cream” in the broad sense of the term is most often used to garnish a dessert. Whether it is poached in a cabbage, poured onto a tart base, spread between layers of puff pastry, or even taken in the cold to make a dessert, there are many creams and each of them adapts more or less less good at making this or that dessert. Airy whipped cream is most often placed as a topping because of its light texture which is not ideal for “supporting” too much weight. Conversely, pastry cream plays with fruit and is an ideal base for a gourmet strawberry tart. There are also creams which are cooked, like the almond cream which garnishes galettes des rois and are rarely used raw, and creams which do not require any subsequent cooking, such as chiboust cream, diplomate, or still in butter.
To read: The basics of pastry: 11 cream recipes to know
What about chocolate creams?
Concerning chocolate preparations, each cream has its specificities and the preparation method influences the name. Two creams can contain the same ingredients, have the same function but two different names. This is the case for ganache and chocolate whipped cream, both contain cream + chocolate, yet the technique differs. So the terminology too!
Don’t panic, we’ll explain everything to you in detail.
The different chocolate creams used in baking
The chocolate cream
It’s what ? Chocolate cream, delicious and creamy, is a preparation based on custard with added chocolate of any type. There is therefore a part to cook – the custard – before adding chocolate.
How to prepare it? We first prepare a custard made from egg yolks beaten with sugar, mixed with boiling cream and milk. We cook everything until we obtain so-called “tablecloth” cooking. This means that the cream must coat the spoon, and if you pass your finger, the trace must stay in place. If you prefer to use a thermometer, at 84°C, the custard is cooked. Then add the hot cream to the partially melted chocolate in three batches. To finalize the creaminess, you can mix it, taking care not to incorporate any air. Finally, we film on contact, and we leave it to crystallize in a cool place.
We use it for? Sublime dumplings for plated desserts, inserts for desserts, or simply poached on homemade Breton shortbread.
It’s what ? Ganache is a preparation made from liquid cream and chocolate. But be careful, depending on the quantities, the effect will be different. We can prepare a classic ganache, which holds, in this case, the quantity of liquid will depend on the variety of chocolate, and if we want to prepare a whipped ganache, then we will integrate more cream.
Unlike creamy, here, the cream is heated but nothing is “cooked” strictly speaking.
How to prepare it? For a dark chocolate ganache, heat 20 cl of liquid cream, which we pour over 200 g of dark chocolate pieces. Let it melt for a few minutes then mix again in the center until a “core” appears in the heart of the cream. The ganache is ready when the mixture is homogeneous.
For a milk chocolate ganache, use 15 cl of cream for 200 g of chocolate.
For a white chocolate ganache, use 10 cl of cream for 200 g of chocolate.
It is important to respect the dosages depending on the product chosen because not all chocolates crystallize in the same way.
On the whipped ganache side, we lengthen the doses. For a delicious dark chocolate cream, use 30 cl of cream for 100 g of dark chocolate. To prepare, heat 1/3 of the cream and pour it over the chocolate pieces, mix, then finally incorporate the remaining cold cream before wrapping and refrigerating. Once the mixture has cooled, whisk everything in a mixer until you obtain a nice airy foam. Good to know: we incorporate cold cream to make this ganache, because cream that has not boiled will be easier to whip.
We use it for? Classic ganache can be used to make Christmas truffles, poured onto a tart base, integrated into a rolled biscuit, used in desserts, etc.
The whipped ganache, for its part, can be slipped between two macaron shells, poached on cupcakes, choux pastry, even éclairs, or even used as a foamy element in a dessert.
Chocolate whipped cream
It’s what ? Chocolate whipped cream made from whipped cream and melted chocolate, which can also be called “chocolate mousse”, is used in stores to make desserts. Pastry chefs prefer it to classic mousse because it is more stable and allows them to avoid using eggs.
Unlike ganache, cream is used here in a cold version.
How to prepare it? We whip up cold whole liquid cream with a minimum fat content of 35%, then add melted chocolate, whether dark, milk, white or even dulcey.
We use it for? A bit of everything! You can place it on a base of shortcrust pastry before adding fresh fruit, poach it on a pretty Genoa bread before adding inclusions of runny salted butter caramel (homemade is better!), in garnish with gourmet choux pastry topped with crackers, or even put it in glasses, to serve with Russian cigarettes for an old school effect.
Obviously, these basic creams can be customized by adding other ingredients such as fruit puree, spices, praline, coffee extract, etc.
In any case, whatever the cream chosen, focusing on chocolate remains a good option in baking!