We were so enamored with Jael and Dan Rattigan, the couple behind French Broad Chocolate Lounge in Asheville, North Carolina, that we made them our Amuse in our December/January issue of The Local Palate. Maybe we were high on chocolate, but those two are sweet confections embodied! They sure know how to make some seriously delicious chocolate.
Here, they share both their favorite chocolate memories and their recipe for ganache. Having sampled the latter, we can attest that it is a rich reward that must be added to your baking repertoire. It could not be easier to concoct and is so versatile—truffles, hot chocolate, decadent tartlets—the sky is the limit.
You may wonder, as we did, how does one become a chocolate expert?
Well, according to Jael: “Dan and I had a fateful moment early on in our relationship, before we gave birth to businesses and babies. At the time, I was in a business school MBA program and Dan was in law school. One evening, we were in my tiny, blue kitchen making chocolate truffles and caramels for my family and friends for Christmas presents. I got a tingly feeling in my hands and stared down at my palms and said aloud to Dan, “This is it. Chocolate is what will make me happy.” After searching for a fulfilling career for years, I finally felt like I had an answer. He had the vision and faith to believe in me, and take that revelation seriously. Together, we’ve been forging our path in chocolate ever since.”
Another memorable one: We’ve invested a lot of time, energy and money in a friend/former employee in Costa Rica (where we owned a restaurant called Bread & Chocolate), who has built a small cacao fermentary and drying operation to supply us with Costa Rican cacao. We recently received our first importation of his cacao at our Chocolate Factory in Asheville. Dan was over the moon! Daniel is also managing our small cacao farm, so we look forward to the day when he ships us a small lot of cacao from our own farm!
Ganache, as TLP learned while watching Jael and Dan make it before our eyes, is a very simple ratio of high quality chocolate mixed with equal parts hot cream. Its success is contingent on precise measurements and careful attention.
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