Chocolate / Dessert / Tips and Techniques

Nama Chocolate

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After last week’s chocolate-related controversy, you oughta know by now that I am a proud chocoholic. And I love my chocolate the way I like my men… dark, rich, and smooth. (Just kiddin’! Not about the man bit tho, haha ;p) The first time I had nama chocolate, made popular by Japanese brand Royce’, it was love at first bite. That plain, unimpressive-looking brown square turned out to be a seriously rich, flavourful, luscious, creamy, smooth chocolate tablet that melted into a pool of bliss on my tongue. My greatest challenge, when it comes to these chocolates, is to stop at one, or two, or three… Well, as the saying goes, ‘Man cannot live on chocolate alone, but women sure can!’ And hell yeah, can I eat these chocolate squares all day long.

It wasn’t until recently though, when my dear friend Angela May posted a recipe for nama chocolate, that I realized how easily they can be made! Nama, in Japanese, means ‘raw’ or ‘fresh’, referring to the generous amount of fresh cream added to the chocolate to form a ganache. Because a wide variety of flavours can be infused into the cream, nama chocolates can be easily flavoured with herbs, florals, spices and liqueurs. Angela infused her nama chocolate with black tea, while I decided to concoct a vanilla salt and rum flavoured version since my family is recently addicted to the wonderful combination of  sea salt and chocolate.

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My precious vanilla salt bought from Vancouver. You can simply use sea salt too.

This recipe is straightforward, quick and simple. So simple in fact, that I got complacent and didn’t pay attention to details. Turns out pride comes before a fall… or before your ganache separates before your eyes. But no worries, I’ve made the mistake on your behalf and included steps on how to deal with separation anxiety should it occur to you too. Just be sure to use the best quality chocolate you can find or afford for the best results. Gambatte! (Japanese for good luck!)

Nama Chocolate
Yields: 8″ square pan

400g chocolate
200g whipping cream
20g unsalted butter
1 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp rum or liqueur (optional)
1-2 tsp coarse sea salt (optional)
Cocoa powder for dusting

1. Line a 8″ square tin with parchment paper. Chop chocolate into small pieces and place chocolate into a bowl.

2. In a saucepan, heat whipping cream over low heat until it just begins to bubble. Remove from heat immediately.

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Don’t boil or over-heat your cream else it might curdle or cause the ganache to separate

3. Pour whipping cream into the bowl of chocolate, whisk gently to blend and emulsify the mixture.

You can let the chocolate sit in the warm cream for a minute before stirring to blend the two together

You can let the chocolate sit in the warm cream for a minute before stirring to blend the two together

4. Slowly stir in butter, honey and alcohol (if using).

5. Stir in coarse sea salt flakes quickly and then transfer to prepared tin. Cling wrap over the tin and refrigerate.

Make sure you line the tin with parchment paper or it will be a pain to remove the chocolate later

Make sure you line the tin with parchment paper or it will be a pain to remove the chocolate later

6. When set, use a sharp warm knife to cut into squares. Dust with cocoa powder and serve.

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Clean your knife in between cuts to get clean sharp edges

Ganache Woes: Dealing with Separation Anxiety

Ugh... what an embarrassing photo! But I'm putting this up for the greater good of "education".

Ugh… what an embarrassing photo! But I’m putting this up for the greater good of “education”.

If your ganache separated like mine, don’t panic and don’t throw all that expensive chocolate out! Chocolate ganache is a delicate emulsion of fat and water which can separate when it is not treated rightly. The trick is to coax the two back into a homogenous mixture using these two steps which I did to salvage mine.

1. Warm the separated ganache over a gentle bain-marie, and then whisk vigorously to get it back together. If that doesn’t work… try step 2.

A bain-marie is simply a water bath achieved by putting the bowl on a pot of simmering water. Make sure the water is not touching the bowl!

A bain-marie is simply a water bath achieved by putting the bowl on a pot of simmering water. Make sure the water is not touching the bowl!

2. Add a tbsp of room temperature liqueur/glucose to the mixture and whisk ganache vigorously until it comes back together. Add another tbsp if it remains stubborn.

Rum to the rescue!

Rum to the rescue!

Tadaaa… I hope these tips help and you’re inspired. Let me know if you have any other creative concoctions of nama chocolate that you like!

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