I think the best way to learn how to cook is to become reliant on ratios rather than recipes.
Right now I’m reading The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman; he is also responsible for one of my favorite cook books mentioned previously: Ratio.
The more you can focus on cooking with ratios, the more control you have over your final product.
For example, ganache is simply a mixture of cream and milk and occasionally other flavors or some butter.
“Master” Ganache is 1:1 cream to chocolate. This is the standard and makes a medium consistency ganache that is perfect for chocolate fondue, a chocolate glaze or filling for a cake, or the base for countless chocolate desserts.
A ratio of 2:1 cream to chocolate works perfectly if you’d like to make a chocolate sauce that pours easily, then you can adjust your ratio accordingly.
If you’d like to make a firmer chocolate ganache that can be set, scooped, rolled and covered in more delicious chocolate; 1:2 cream to chocolate is ideal for chocolate truffles.
No matter the consistency, ganache is always made the same way: Heat your cream until it just barely starts to bubble around the edges of your pan.
Pour the warm cream over chocolate chips or chocolate that you have chopped into small pieces.
Allow the cream to sit on top of the chocolate until it’s obvious that it’s begun to melt. Fold the cream and the chocolate together using a spatula until smooth.
Place in the refrigerator, once the mixture has set, use a spoon or melon baller (probably one of the only reasons I use my melon baller) to create uniform sized balls.
Then roll ‘em in some cocoa powder! You can also use a mixture of cocoa powder and powdered sugar if you’d like it to be sweeter.
That is about as sweet and simple as it gets. But once you know how to manipulate the consistency, you can add any flavor you want. Chopped peanuts, dried fruit, extracts and flavorings, even a hefty pinch of salt can transform these simple truffles into something extraordinary. Play around with different cacao contents or various brands of chocolate.
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and some cinnamon and you have Mexican hot chocolate truffles- the possibilities are endless.