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As long as the chocolate is finely chopped, the temperature is hot enough to melt the chocolate, and the ganache is stirred, I have not seen problems with the ganache breaking, but I have seen problems with chocolate specks even with experts.

In a tiny kitchen in Erice, Italy, I watched as a French restaurant owner-chef poured the boiling cream over chopped chocolate while a famous French pastry chef stirred vigorously. The pastry chef got a product that he was unhappy with two out of five times. He pointed out the tiniest chocolate specks in the otherwise smooth mixture.

There were only the three of us there; the two chefs spoke little or no English, and I spoke no French. So, I could not ask my questions or suggest something to try. After all, this was one of the most famous pastry chefs in France, so I remained respectfully silent.

A reasonably fail-safe procedure for adding the hot cream to the chocolate is in a food processor. With the processor running, pour the boiling cream down the feed tube onto the finely chopped chocolate. Chocolate expert Alice Medrich does caution that this should take no longer than 15 seconds. You need to get the liquid in fast.

In the ganache recipes below (an easy chocolate mousse and a magnificent perfectly smooth icing that looks as if it came from an expensive bakery), I add the chocolate to the cream - not the cream to the chocolate.

Simple chocolate mousse

This is essentially chocolate heavy cream that is chilled well and whipped. It is important to finely chop the chocolate. I cut the chocolate into pieces and process it in the food processor with the steel blade until very finely chopped.

Makes about 4 servings.

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

8 ounces, very finely chopped semisweet chocolate

In a large saucepan, heat the cream to a boil, stir in the sugar, allow to stand 1 to 2 minutes off the heat, and then dump in the finely chopped chocolate. Shake to settle the chocolate in the cream.

Allow to stand 1 to 2 minutes for the chocolate to melt, then gently stir together. When this is thoroughly combined, allow to cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Simply whip the cold, thin ganache to soft peaks as if it were heavy cream. Do not overwhip; it will become firmer as it stands in the refrigerator. Pour into parfait glasses, chill and serve. If desired, garnish with whipped cream or chocolate shavings.

Satin-smooth, shiny ganache glaze

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