Consisting of just two ingredients, ganache has long been a sidecar component for desserts — but at Hakkasan (311 West 43rd Street, 212-776-1818), pastry chef Rory Macdonald is giving it his undivided attention. Here, we chat with Macdonald about his kalamansi spin on the classic, how eucalyptus came into play, and how you, too, can definitely do this at home.
How is ganache made?
The most basic process is by heating cream and then melting the chocolate with the cream — the ratio of cream to chocolate will depend on how dense or loose the ganache is. For this dish, we want a very light ganache, so we infuse the cream with the kalamansi lime then add gelatin so the ganache sets slightly but is not dense.
What should folks keep in mind when making ganache?
The emulsification process is very important; it’s almost like making mayonnaise. You should add the heated cream gradually while stirring into the ganache, which will result in a smooth and glossy result. If the you add the cream all at once and it’s too hot, the ganache can separate and have a grainy texture.
Why did you decide to offer a ganache dish at Hakkasan?
Ganache is a good technique to carry a flavor, and here it is still rich and creamy but very light; the flavor of the lime cuts through the richness of the chocolate so the dessert is not heavy and you don’t feel full after eating it. All of our desserts are designed to be light and leave you with a clean palate.
How did you decide to focus on kalamansi for the dish?
Kalamansi lime is a variation of lime commonly found throughout Asia, especially in China, so this was the first reason we started to test with this ingredient. It is much more fragrant and less acidic than a normal lime — you can actually eat it like a orange — so it’s a good balance and different flavor for the dessert.
How did eucalyptus enter the dessert’s lineup?
We always try and do something a little different, so we started to experiment with eucalyptus for its menthol qualities, first with the oil, but that was too strong. We finally settled on fresh eucalyptus, infusing it overnight into the sorbet. It’s a very good way to clean the palate, and it really complements the kalamansi ganache.
How do yo put it all together?
For the kalamansi ganache, we use a very specific chocolate from TCHO company, which is fair trade organic chocolate. It’s 67 percent with natural citrus notes, which highlights the kalamansi flavor. We infuse the cream with kalamansi lime zest for at least two hours, then we make an anglaise (similar to a custard), which we then emulsify into the chocolate. At the end, we gradually add the kalamansi juice. For the eucalyptus sorbet, we cold-infuse fresh eucalyptus into a yogurt sorbet mixture for a least 24 hours, and we then strain and churn the sorbet.