To oblige your senses – a batch of El Pedregal Porcelana Venezuela chocolate ganache muffins.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

It was meant to be a rudimentary mid-week chocolate fix, where this batch of chocolate ganache filled chocolate muffins were made from what I had in my kitchen pantry for chocolate.

But as the kitchen filled with the aroma of the fruit tones of the melting Porcelana chocolate and the swirled spices of cinnamon and cardamom, I soon realized not all chocolate muffins are created equal.

As a crowning sensation of the senses, this batch of muffins were filled with Valrhona El Pedregal Porcelana for chocolate ganache.

Muffin recipe

300 g all-purpose flour
200 g sugar (or adjust according to taste)
70 g Valrhona cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
2 eggs
150 ml full cream milk or whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
150 g butter

Chocolate ganache recipe

600 g Valrhona El Pedregal Porcelana 2011
ca. 200 ml cream milk (add more if you want a more fluid ganache)
ca. 100 ml milk (add more if you want a more fluid ganache)

In a small bowl, I began by combining the eggs and sugar, whisking till the sugar melted. In a larger bowl, I held all dry ingredients. Once the eggs and sugar were whisked to a light frothy yellow, they went into the dry ingredeints. Next went in the liquids and the melted 150g of butter. When making muffins or chocolate cakes in general, I have another variation and that is to use plain cooking oil or vegetable oil, if I felt for a lighter chocolate cake. The batter was stirred till combined and divided into small muffin cups, filled to about half way or at most three-qarters to the top. Depending on oven characteristics, these were baked in a Bertazzoni for 15 to 20 minutes at 150 – 160 C on top and bottom heating only – an advice from my Italian chef friend, who was horrified when I told him that I baked cake using convection heating.

The ganache is relatively easier to make. Simply combine the two ingredients on low heat and stir till thick, glossy, aromatic and smooth.

The baked and cooled muffins were sliced at the top and then filled with the luxuriously decadent molten chocolate and re-lidded. The results are shown in the pictures.

The unexpected luxury in this batch of chocolate muffins and what taught me that it mattered the type and variety of chocolate used, most certainly comes from the new vintage Valrhona chocolate bars of the rare of character Porcelana cocoa, which is a form of Criollo cocoa. The Porcelana bean is so scarce that it entices many chocolate lovers and chocolatiers alike. Other than Valrhona, you could possibly find one other chocolate bar made from the exclusive Porcelana that is the award winning Amedei Porcelana made by Amedei, an Italian chocolatier in Tuscany.

El Pedregal is the name of a new estate in Venezuela that Valrhona has dedicated entirely to the growing of the Porcelana cocoa beans that is mostly famous for being grown in Mexico. The flowers of the Porcelana are extremely fragile and about 1 of 1000 blooms succeed in turning into fruit. Aromatic in nature, the resulting beans have almost no trace of the bitterness that is usually found in cocoa beans, and the beans are called ‘porcelana’ because of its white translucent tones. Harvested just once a year, these limited chocolate bars by Valrhona gives any chocolate connoisseur a precious, rare and much anticipated taste experience provided you’re able to acquire them and have them at your table.

Warm and sensuous, the El Pedregal Porcelana 2011 offers a wonderfully broad spectrum of taste with its creamy dark chocolate filled with notes of dried fruit and honey. When made into molten ganache, it adds an expansive depth of flavour to the chocolate muffins with end notes of a touch of liquorice and prune.

There certainly isn’t any good excuse for the amount of chocolate that went into this batch of ganache filled chocolate muffins, especially it being the El Pedregal Porcelana. Still, the overwhleming and complete sense of indulgence when biting into one of these ganache filled morsels, is simply priceless.

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