Chef Tracy DeWitt's Lava Rock Sugar and Soft Chocolate Ganache

Most of Chef Tracy DeWitt's desserts are insanely complex dishes with layers of flavor that she's cooked up for pastry competitions. We're talking desserts with more than 16 recipes per plate. Not something you'd want to try at home.

But we've found one. "Lava Rock Sugar is the coolest recipe experiment anyone could try," DeWitt says. "It probably gets the most 'ooh's and 'ahh's from my students."

It's just slightly more complicated than boiling water - think simple syrup at nearly 300˚F - but has an explosive climax and a cool finish. And with a base of a two-ingredient chocolate ganache, we're sold.

Click through to see a video of DeWitt demo-ing Lava Rock Sugar and recipes to make your own at home.

Lava Rock Sugar

What you need:
Small bowl
4 oz powdered sugar
1 egg white
5-quart saucepan
1 lb 5 oz granulated sugar
7 oz water
Food coloring (optional)
Ice bath (ice and cold water in a big bowl)
Metal bowl lined with aluminum foil and lightly oiled with vegetable spray.

What you do:

  • Mix together powdered sugar and egg white in the small bowl to make royal icing and set aside.

  • Mix granulated sugar and water in saucepan until all sugar is wet.

  • Heat mixture on stovetop and insert an electronic thermometer to monitor the temperature as the mixture heats up.

  • Cook the mixture to 298˚F - right underneath the 300˚F line.

  • Remove the pot from the heat and shock it briefly (2 seconds) in the ice bath.

  • Remove the pot from the ice pot and set it on the counter.

  • Add a heaping tablespoon of the royal icing you set aside earlier to the mixture.

  • Whisk in icing completely while the pot is off the stove - Chef DeWitt's note: You must whisk very quickly and thoroughly! The contents of the pot will rise and fall as you whisk.

  • When all the contents have fallen, return the pot back to the stove over a high flame and watch as the contents expand inside the pot again.

  • Tilt the pot back and forth to look for the contents to crack on the surface and form fissures like lava but are still liquid!

  • Quickly pour the contents out into the foil lined bowl (using potholders to hold both) before the mixture spills over the pan completely.

  • Immediately take the bowl of foamy lava rock sugar to the freezer to chill for 30 minutes or until cooled.

  • Watch Chef DeWitt demo the crucial steps of making Lava Rock Sugar.

    Chef DeWitt's note: The lava rock sugar is naturally off-white, if you want to color it, add food coloring to the simple syrup mixture before adding the royal icing.

    Soft Chocolate Ganache

    What you need: 3 oz chocolate (any kind), chips or chopped
    9 oz heavy cream
    Medium saucepan
    Medium mixing bowl

    What you'll do:

  • Bring 6 oz heavy cream to a boil in the saucepan.

  • Pour boiling cream over chocolate pieces in the mixing bowl.

  • Stir together to make a ganache.

  • Chill mixture for at least 2 hours or overnight. - Chef DeWitt's note: I prefer to make it the day before and chill overnight. It's less hassle.

  • Once chilled, add remaining 3 oz heavy cream to the ganache and then whip the mixture together. - Chef DeWitt's note: Do not mix the ganache before adding the extra cream.

  • Serve soft chocolate ganache in martini glasses rimmed in chocolate shavings and garnish with small pieces of lava rock sugar. Enjoy!

    (This is the third installment of our Chef Chat with Chef DeWitt. Check out parts one and two, and check back tomorrow for the American Culinary Federation's Pastry Chef of the Year competition results!)

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