Valrhona Essentials FAQ

The Valrhona Essentials were created by our expert L’École Valrhona chefs to give every pastry chef a foundation of techniques that they can use to create new recipes and unleash their creativity. Download the Valrhona App for iOS or check out our YouTube channel for more Valrhona Essentials!

Valrhona Essentials FAQ

Macarons – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making cocoa macarons.

  1. What characteristics make the “perfect” macaron? The perfect macaron should have a smooth outer shell, an interior that is not hollow, and some form of feet (or pied, in French). 
  2. Sugar is added three times in the macarons: 300g icing sugar and 300g plus 40g of regular sugar. What is the purpose of this? The icing sugar is part of dry ingredients with almond flour. The French term for this is “tant pour tant” or TPT, which means an equal measure of something. However, in this recipe, some of the almond flour is substituted with cocoa powder. The 300g of sugar is for preparing syrup and the 40g of sugar is for whipping with the egg whites for an Italian meringue.
  3. Why do they break during baking? There are many factors that could cause cracking of macaron shells. For instance, the oven could be too hot, the macaron shells might not have had long enough to rest, or the meringue might not be stiff enough.
  4. How can I bake macarons evenly? Know your oven. Bake one tray at a time also help for a small conventional oven. Quickly rotate halfway if needed be.
  5. How do you make macarons shiny? Shiny shells come from a recipe that has high sugar content. The shells also have to be baked right away after piping with no resting. This works better in a rational oven.
  6. How do I get smoother tops? Briefly blend almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor and then sift them (you can sift twice if you want). Check for the right consistency of the batter – it should not be undermixed or overmixed. You can also tap the baking sheet after piping and pop any air bubbles on the shells.
  7. What are more exciting flavors other than lemon or vanilla? Click here to get our recipe for Ginger White Chocolate Macarons. You can also substitute some almond flour in your macaron recipe with pistachio flour and pair with a creamy pistachio ganache and orange marmalade. 
  8. What is the best coloring to use? The best coloring is natural coloring, such as beetroot powder, raspberry powder, ground pistachios, and turmeric.
  9. Suggestions for dairy-free fillings? We recommend making a water-based ganache using any of our INSPIRATION couvertures or a dark chocolate ganache with a dairy-free milk substitute.
  10. Is it best to store the shells in the fridge or at room temperature after you make them? Tightly wrap and put them in the fridge. The shells themselves will last 4-6 days. If the macarons are fully assembled, they will last 2-4 days.
  11. What is the best way to bake them on a deck oven? The shells have to be dry to the touch and you may want to put one more tray underneath while baking.
  12. Why is it that sometimes when we bake the macarons, only one side rises or one side rises more than the other? There are many possible causes. It could be that the oven is too hot, the fan is too strong (convection oven), the consistency of the batter is not right, the shells were left to dry for too long so they stick to the baking paper or a silicone mat, the silicone mat is not properly clean (if using), or it could even be caused by improper piping technique.
  13. What tips do you have for using a stand mixer for the macaronage? I’ve never tried that method. Paddle on the slowest speed until everything just combines and finish by hand until you reach the right consistency.
  14. How do you add flavor to macarons? The main flavor of macarons comes from the filling, not as much from the shells. However, a small amount of flavored powder can be used to enhance some of the flavors of the shells, such as cocoa powder, ground coffee, tea, freeze-dried fruit powder, etc.
  15. What should be the base of the flavor? For the shell, the base of the flavor comes from almond flour. For the filling, it can be anything from ganache to jam or even buttercream.
  16. At which step do you add flavor to the shells? Mix flavors in with the dry ingredients (icing sugar & almond flour). However, the main flavor of the macaron will come from its filling.
  17. What is the appropriate method for mixing? Is it supposed to be a medium-thick batter? Use a spatula or a bowl scraper. The appropriate method is trying to loosen the batter without overmixing it. This can be done by stirring and pressing or folding and pressing to remove excess air from the batter. The batter should flow nicely but not too fast. You can let the batter flow into a figure eight and the trace should disappear within 30 seconds. It should have a soft consistency that is smooth on top.
  18. If I want to make a giant macaron, do I need to allow for a longer drying time? Possibly. This depends on the climate, but as long as the shell is dry to a touch, it’s ready to go into the oven.
  19. What is the benefit of adding the unbeaten egg white after mixing the dry ingredients? This is for ease of mixing so you don’t have to smooth out a paste with some meringue.
  20. When making macarons, sometimes they turn out looking like berets. Any tips or reasons why? Mix and deflate your batter a little more next time. The batter should have a nice steady flow down from a spatula or scraper. Take care that it’s not too runny though.
  21. How do you make them in a place that always has humid weather? You may need to allow the piped batter more time to dry before putting them into the oven. Try this trick to dry out the shells. Preheat an oven until it reaches 390°F, then turn it off and immediately put a tray of piped shells in it. Let the crust form (just dry to the touch), but keep an eye on it. This should take 5-10 minutes.
  22. How do you prevent hollow shells or air pockets? Make sure your meringue is at stiff peaks and your batter is not overmixed. Also, check your baking temperature –the shells can turn out hollow if the baking temperature is too low. 
  23. Can undermixing macaronage cause hollow shells too? This is not likely as long as your meringue is at a stiff peaks.
  24. Why do my macarons’ feet sometimes spread out instead of rising properly? This could be because the baking temperature was too high or because the batter was overmixed. The small ruffle along the base is totally ok for macarons as long as the shells are not hollow. The French refer to this frill as the "pied" or "foot" in English.
  25. What is it that gives them their beautiful feet? For macarons to develop feet, the meringue must be properly prepared, the batter must be the right consistency, the piped batter must have enough time to develop a skin before going in the oven, and the baking temperature must not be too low.
  26. What does it mean when the tops of the macarons sink after baking? This means the batter is overmixed.
  27. How do you make nut-free macarons? Try making them with pumpkin seeds.
  28. How do you make vegan macarons? You can use aquafaba instead of egg whites.
  29. Why does the color fade after baking? Make sure you use powdered or gel coloring. You can also try lowering the baking temperature but adding more time to mitigate discoloration.

Shortcrust – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making cocoa and almond shortcrust.

  1. Why is it called shortcrust? "Shortness" in dough refers to its friability, which is obtained through two processes: the inverse method and the classic method.
    •    Inverse method – Butter and flour are worked together until a mixture is obtained that has a consistency similar to sand. Then the liquid ingredients are added. This method is ideal for pâte brisée, which is very rich in fat.
    •    Classic method – Butter is added to sugar and liquid ingredients. The flour is added at the end. This method is used to make a short dough with little fat that is much less friable.

    It’s hard to retrace the birth of the shortcrust as there are so many different types of shortcrust pasty. It’s believed that the first recipe was created in Venice in the 18th century. It caught on in France in the 19th century, but we are not sure whether it originated in Normandy or Sarthe. 
  2. Difference between a pâte sablée and a feuilletage à la minute? Feuilletage à la minute, also commonly called feuilletage rapide in French, is a quick way to make a puff pastry. It’s usually used to make things like mille-feuilles or apple turnover. Pâte sablée is a dough commonly used for tart or dried petits fours. Click here for a petits fours recipe that calls for pâte sablée.
  3. Why do the ingredients need to be cold? Not all of the ingredients need to be cold. It’s best to have your ingredients at room temperature (64-68°F or 18-20°C) and cold butter (39-42°F 4-6C). You don’t need to take the final temperature, but after mixing your pastry will be at about 64-68°F 18-20°C). You can roll it out between sheets of plastic or parchment, or simply leave it in the fridge and use it later. If you leave it in the fridge, make sure to let the pastry come back at room temperature before rolling it out. We don’t recommend mixing cold dough in a machine again to make it pliable enough to roll out.  
  4. How can I make sure my tart dough doesn’t sink into the mold when I bake it? If the tart dough sinks, it’s probably because the pastry was kneaded for too long. Stop mixing as soon as the pastry comes together. Once mixed, roll it out between sheets of plastic or parchment. Let the pastry rest in the fridge first to let the flour absorb moisture, and then freeze if needed. You can also use perforated tart rings, which were created by L’École Valrhona Executive Pastry Chef Fabrice David in collaboration with L’École Valrhona and de Buyer. They’re easy to use and don’t require you to blindbake your tart shells with dry beans. You can also bake your tart on a silpain (a perforated silicon mat) in order to ensure a nice, flat bottom.
  5. How do you make a really good gluten-free crust? You can use alternative flours, like buckwheat, chestnut or rice flour. Link to gluten-free page. Be careful with most nut flours as they play a different role in the pastry dough. Click here for more information about gluten-free flour alternatives.

Flourless Chocolate Biscuit – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making a flourless chocolate biscuit.

  1. How long is the shelf life? We recommend consuming the biscuit within four days of making it. Make sure to store it in the fridge. If you’re making huge volume, you can plan to make your biscuit on day one and then use the biscuit to build your cake or entremets on day two.
  2. How long can you freeze it? As long as the biscuit is well wrapped and kept at constant temperature (0 to -4°F or -18 to -20°C), you can keep your biscuit for three to four months or even longer, but remember, the fresher the better.
  3. Can you make an eggless or vegan version of this recipe? You can try the recipe with aquafaba or whipped pea protein, but note that if you substitute the egg with other ingredients, you will not get the same final result.
  4. Could you use this recipe for a molded petit gâteau or a mousse cake? Yes, you can use the biscuit as the base of a petit gâteau, mousse cake, Yule Log and in many other applications.
  5. What are the best desserts to use this recipe for? You can use it for petits gâteaux, entremets, in tarts, for travel cakes with multiple layers of biscuit and ganache, or anything else you can imagine! We should also mention that flourless chocolate biscuit also excellent on its own, fresh from the oven with a glass of cold milk.
  6. What is the benefit of using a flourless biscuit instead of a sponge or other cake recipe? You will have a different biscuit texture to use in your creation. Also, note that there is no flour, so this recipe is a good alternative for people with intolerance to gluten.
  7. How do I prevent the batter from deflating too much? If your meringue is not whipped well enough, the mixture will be too liquidly. If it’s overwhipped, your egg whites will be grainy, and in order to have a homogeneous mixture, you will have to spend more time mixing causing you to lose volume. Make sure to whip your egg whites to soft peaks. Gently combine the meringue with the other ingredients with a rubber spatula. Spread on your silicone mat or parchment ined baking sheet and bake immediately.
  8. Is it possible to add ingredients to the biscuit itself? Yes, you can, but this biscuit is spread in relatively thin layer, 600 to 1000g per sheet, so it is not recommended. However, you can try adding chopped nuts on the top of your biscuit, such as silvered almonds to add texture.
  9. How well does this cake work for a roulade application? Can you share any tips for using this recipe in a roulade? This recipe is great for a roulade. Make sure to not overbake it. Your biscuit has to be soft to be used in a roulade application. When you take your biscuit out of the oven, place a sheet of parchment directly on top of it to help to keep the moisture in. Before using the biscuit for roulade, apply a sugar syrup, about 180-200g. You can also add some Valrhona Cocoa Powder in your syrup for a more intense cocoa flavor.
  10. How do you make sure the biscuit rises to a uniform height in the oven? Spread your biscuit batter as uniformly as possible. Using a raplette to spread the batter helps to create a flat and consistent thickness. However, an offset spatula will work well too. Some chefs add some white vinegar to help ensure uniform height and to allow for longer shelf life, but it’s not necessary. After baking, your biscuit may deflate a bit, giving it a flatter appearance, but if you are still concerned with a non-uniform height, once cooled, you can put a sheet of parchment on top of the biscuit and gently press with a baking tray.

Brownies – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making brownies

  1. What is the texture of a perfect brownie? Molten center, fudgy, chewy, or something else? This depends on your personal taste. Some people like a cakier brownie, while others prefer a fudgy consistency. If you like extra fudginess, you may want to pull your brownies out of the oven just before they are fully baked as they will continue to cook in the pan.
  2. My brownies always turn out raw in the center and the sides become to crisp. How do I help that? This is most likely because of your oven temperature. Reduce the temperature to ensure even baking.
  3. How do I make sure they are done? Sometimes I over- or underbake! A cake tester or toothpick in the center is a good way to test. The tester should not have batter on it when removed.
  4. The edges always brown too fast and dry out. I never like the crust pieces. This is also affected by your oven temperature. Try lowering the temperature.
  5. My brownies turn out cakey. What do I adjust to make them fudgier? More moisture will result in a fudgier brownie. Using melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder will make your brownies fudgier. Adding more fat in the form of butter or oil will have the same effect.
  6. How do I keep my brownies from coming out dry and hard? This could be caused by overbaking. You may also need to adjust your recipe to add more moisture in the form of melted chocolate or fat.
  7. Do I need to alter my recipe if I’m using a convection oven? You don’t need to change the recipe but do adjust the baking time and/or temperature. Convection ovens bake at a higher temperature.
  8. Which flour is best? All-purpose? Cake? Bread? Can I substitute? All-purpose is best. Cake flour has cornstarch added and bread flour has higher gluten. You can use either one, but they may affect the finished texture.
  9. Do I need to line my tin with parchment? You do not need to use parchment as the fat in the brownies will keep them from sticking to your pan. However, if you want be able to remove them easily for cutting, parchment or greasing your pan works well.
  10. What are your favorite mix-ins besides nuts? Chocolate chunks or chopped chocolate.
  11. I can never get the perfect texture. I want them to be slightly chewy. This has to do with the recipe as well as baking. Using melted chocolate in the recipe will help with texture.
  12. What kind of pan should I use? A metal or glass baking dish. Either will work well.
  13. Is it OK to frost or glaze them? Yes! A chocolate frosting or ganache is a great way to finish brownies.

Soufflé – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making a chocolate soufflé. 

  1. Can a fruit purée be used to make a soufflé? Less water is better and fruit purée has a high water content. Using the fruit purée to make a coulis for finishing is a better option.
  2. What is the best way to make a vegan soufflé? This is tricky because the main component of a soufflé is the egg whites, which help to achieve the rise and texture. You can experiment with aquafaba, but the texture and flavor will differ from a traditional soufflé.
  3. Do you need to butter or line the ramekin? We recommend buttering the ramekin evenly and dusting it with granulated sugar before piping the batter so your soufflé can be eaten right out of the dish. 
  4. How much can you experiment with the taste and still make it perfect? The best way to experiment without affecting the recipe too much would be spices or zest. A great way to add flavor is to finish with a flavored ice cream or sauce.
  5. My soufflé doesn’t rise very well. What am I doing wrong? When buttering the ramekins, make upward brush strokes to encourage the soufflé to rise. It’s important to make sure all the surfaces are buttered and sugared or the batter can catch as it starts to rise, preventing a nice, even rise. Also, try not to open the oven while baking. An oven with little to no fan will give the best results. 
  6. Is there a type of chocolate that’s best suited to soufflé? A higher percentage is better. You get more chocolate flavor and can use less, making it more cost-effective. The more fat you add, the less the egg whites will rise, so less fat (from the cocoa butter in chocolate) is better. For professionals, we recommend P125 COEUR DE GUANAJA as it has less fat and higher cocoa content. Click here for a souffle recipe that calls for P125 COEUR DE GUANAJA.
  7. What makes a great soufflé? The ideal soufflé has a good, even rise with a clean, distinct edge. Also, a soufflé that rises and will hold for more than a few minutes is best.
  8. Can I make a soufflé flavored with praliné? How would I need to adjust the recipe? You can use praliné, but this would mean removing all or a portion of the chocolate, as too much fat will inhibit the rise of the soufflé. How much you add will depend on how intense you’d like the flavor to be. Another option is the make a sauce with the praliné to finish the soufflé to intensify the flavor.

Ganache and Framed Bonbons – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making framed ganache. 

  1. What is the ideal texture for ganache? At L’École Valrhona, we design our recipes to have a smooth and soft texture, but not too soft. You should be able to cut the ganache with a guitar cutter. The recipes are calculated to contain 10 to 14% of pure cocoa butter.
  2. What is the difference between making dark chocolate and white chocolate ganache? The ratios of chocolate to cream will be different. In dark chocolate ganache, you will have around 46 to 52% of couverture and 38 to 43% of cream. The remaining components are added sugar (glucose DE40, invert sugar) and butter. In white chocolate ganache, you will have around 62 to 64% of chocolate and 26 to 28% of cream.
  3. Why do I have to add the liquid in three parts to make ganache? You don’t have to add your liquid in exactly three parts – it could be in two or more than three. The first part will allow you to start the emulsion. Your mixture will split due to the ratio of water (from the cream) and fat (from your couverture or chocolate), but nothing is wrong here. You can then add the remainder of your liquid, in multiple additions, to obtain a shiny and smooth texture. It’s also easier to mix in a small part of liquid at the beginning rather than pouring it in all in once.
  4. How do I know when my ganache is emulsified? You will know your ganache is emulsified when it is perfectly smooth and there is no graininess.
  5. Can I make ganache without an immersion blender? Yes, you can make a ganache without an immersion blender. In fact, it’s preferable to mix it without a blender than to use a poor-quality hand blender that would incorporate air into your ganache. Keep in mind that a nice hand blender will allow you to divide the molecules into smaller particles.
  6. Can I make a ganache in a food processor? Yes, you can make a ganache in a food processor. Just make sure the bowl is over halfway full as it can incorporate air bubbles if filled under halfway.
  7. How do I fix ganache that keeps splitting? First, check the balance of the recipe. You are combining water and fat, which don’t mix. Make sure you follow the emulsion process shown in our Essentials video. Usually, for a dark chocolate ganache, you will have around 46 to 52% of couverture and 38 to 43% of cream. The remaining components are added sugar (glucose DE40, invert sugar) and butter.
  8. What fat content of heavy cream do you recommend? The French Valrhona recipes are made with a 35% fat cream, but here in the US we use 36% fat.
  9. If you’re using fat-free milk for ganache, do you need to add butter for fat content? Not necessarily. The animal fat is more for mouth feel as the melting point is lower than cocoa butter. You can use coconut oil but be careful as the melting point is even lower than dairy butter.
  10. How can I add flavors to ganache, like fruit or tea infusions? You can use fruit purée along with or instead of the cream. Be careful as sometimes fruit purée will give you bigger particles, and the resulting texture will not be as smooth. You can also directly infuse tea or spices into your cream.
  11. How can I make a ganache for a diabetic? We can use our XOCOLINE 65% dark or milk chocolate couverture and replace the glucose with maltitol.
  12. Can I make framed bonbons without a guitar cutter? Yes, you can cut the ganache using a sharp, thin knife or a metal string like the one on the guitar cutter. A guitar cutter can be expensive, but it will save you time.
  13. How do I get a nice, clean cut with a knife? I always seem to get domes instead of a nice cube. Depending on the consistency of the ganache, try warming the knife slightly and wiping after each cut.
  14. How long do you let the framed ganache set before cutting and enrobing? Leave the dark chocolate ganache to set for 24 to 36 hours at 60-65°F (16-18°C) and at 60% humidity. Usually, we recommend letting milk and white chocolate ganache set for a while longer, about 24 to 48 hours.
  15. What kind of tool is used in the video to spread the chocolate before pouring into the ganache? The tool we use is called a raplette, and it’s included in our Valrhona frame kit.
  16. Can I make framed bonbons without an enrobing machine? You don’t need to have an enrobing machine to make framed bonbons. If you’re thinking of adding a line of framed bonbons to your business, try hand dipping your ganache in tempered chocolate to coat using chocolate forks. The cons are that hand dipping can be time consuming and you tend to get a thicker coating than if you’re using an enrobing machine. This translates to a higher cost per bonbon. If your customers respond positively, you may want to invest in a machine as it will save you time and result in a more even coating.
  17. Any tips for avoiding cracks along the sharp edges when applying a thin coating of chocolate? This is a common problem as chocolate shrinks slightly as it sets, it will crack if it’s too thin. Make sure to use a chocolate or couverture that is designed for coating and then play with the different settings on your machine (e.g. temperature, speed of the belt, blower).
  18. How can I extend the shelf life of my bonbons? The taste tends to change after three days. Many things can contribute to this. Check the balance of your recipe, your technique and make sure you follow the emulsion process correctly.

Whipped Ganache – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making whipped ganache. 

  1. What is whipped ganache? It’s a ganache with air whipped into it. Think of it as chocolate whipped cream!
  2. Can you whip any ganache, or does it only work for certain recipes? Whipped ganache is a specific recipe. You make an initial ganache and add an equal amount of liquid heavy cream to the ganache while it’s still warm, then whip the next day.
  3. When should you use a whipped ganache and when should you use a buttercream frosting or a namelaka? A whipped ganache is quite delicate like whipped cream and needs to be kept refrigerated before and after whipping. It’s great to replace buttercream in some applications, but not all.
  4. Can it be used to build cakes or is it too soft? It’s a great addition to the top of a cake or served on the side of a slice but can be too soft to build a traditional layer cake
  5. How do you know when it reaches the right consistency? It’s best to under whip first, then see if you need to whip more. Your consistency will depend on the application, but overwhipping will result in a grainy appearance.
  6. Do certain types of chocolate change the texture of whipped ganache? White chocolate whipped ganache is very similar to whipped cream, whereas dark chocolate results in a thicker whipped ganache.
  7. Why do you add glucose and trimoline to a whipped ganache? These ingredients are added for elasticity and texture – they help create a smooth consistency when whipped.
  8. Can you use different invert sugars, other than glucose? Yes, just keep in mind that different invert sugars with have different sweetening power and may add flavor (like honey or maple syrup)
  9. How do you keep it from deflating? The cocoa butter in the chocolate keeps the finished product stable. It’s best to whip only the amount you need when you need it and reserve the unwhipped product in the refrigerator.
  10. How long is a whipped ganache stable? How long does it stay aerated? It’s stabilized by the cocoa butter but is still a delicate product.  How long it stays aerated is dependent on application and storage temperature. It’s best to whip just before using and then either serve immediately or refrigerate for a few hours before serving.  It can also be whipped and frozen for longer storage.
  11. How long is the shelf life? The un-whipped ganache can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. Once whipped, it should be consumed within a day for optimal texture. It can also be whipped and frozen.
  12. How long does it last in the refrigerator? 5-7 days if stored properly, un-whipped.  Once whipped it’s best to consume within a day for the best texture, much like whipped cream.
  13. How can I make whipped ganache with fruit purée? You can remove a portion of the cream and replace with purée. Keep in mind that the quantity of cold cream added to the ganache is essential for the finished texture, so the purée should be incorporated into the base ganache recipe.
  14. Why is there no gelatin in the Valrhona Essentials version of whipped ganache? This recipe does not need gelatin as there is cocoa butter for stability.  

Chocolate Mousse – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making a classic chocolate mousse

  1. How to do I prevent my mousse from splitting? Follow the temperature of the different elements while mixing your mousse. If your ganache base is split before adding the whipped cream, add a small amount of the whipped cream to stabilize your emulsion and then fold in the remaining cream.
  2. Can you put mousse in the fridge? Yes, you can allow mousse to set in the refrigerator, but our chefs recommend freezing it if using silicone molds so you will be able to pop the mouse out of the molds more easily. Mousse needs at least 12 hours in the refrigerator to set. Or freeze until the center of the mousse is frozen.
  3. What is the difference between a mousse made with egg whites and a mousse made with whipped cream? Taste and texture will be different. Classic mousse, made with egg whites, usually has a shorter shell life. 
  4. I used both egg whites and whipped cream, but my mousse didn’t set. What do I need to do differently? It’s most likely that your chocolate ratio is not enough in your current recipe. Have a look at the classic mousse recipe in the Essentials tool within the Valrhona App for iOS. You will have all the tips you need to make the perfect mousse. If you do not have access to the Valrhona App, watch this video.
  5. My mousse always turns out grainy. What can I do? Carefully reheat your chocolate mixture slightly before you incorporate the whipped egg whites or whipped cream. If the mixture has already cooled and you add a large quantity of egg whites or cold cream, the chocolate will harden and form grains.
  6. My mousse is too firm. Have you used chocolate with the right amount of cocoa content for the recipe? If necessary, adjust the weight of the chocolate you are using according to the cocoa content. Cocoa butter acts as a hardener. Depending on how much is in your chocolate, you may end up with a texture that is too firm or too liquid.
  7. Why is it necessary for the cream to be cold? Cream must be cold to whip air into it. Warm or hot cream will not whip.
  8. Why does the ganache have to be 50-53°C if the fat of the cream starts to melt at 40°C? It’s important to start at a higher temperature because when you add cream or egg whites, it will bring the temperature down a bit.
  9. Can I make a mousse with heated egg yolks? What is the difference? Yes, a mousse made with egg yolks will have a slightly different texture and taste. Check out our recipe for chocolate mousse with a pâte à bombe base in the Essentials tool in the Valrhona App! If you do not have access to the Valrhona App, watch this video.
  10. Is gelatin necessary when making a mousse cake? No, many of the mousse recipes on our website and in the Essentials tool in the Valrhona App do not call for gelatin.
  11. What is the best way to avoid “chocolate chips” or deflating the cream or egg whites when adding melted chocolate? When adding melted chocolate, make sure your chocolate is at the right temperature, as specified in the recipe, before adding whipped cream or egg whites.
  12. Some recipes call for tempered chocolate to be used in the mousse. Why is that? You want to make sure the chocolate is at the right temperature according to the recipe before adding whipped cream or egg whites. If the chocolate is too hot, it will deflate your mousse. If the chocolate is too cold, it might solidify too quickly.
  13. What is the best brand of cream you trust when making mousse? We do not recommend a specific brand, but it must be full fat. At L’École Valrhona Brooklyn we use a 36% fat whipping cream.
  14. Can you use any mousse recipe as the base of an entremet or do you recommend a certain recipe? You can basically use any type of mousse for your entremets. However, you should avoid classic mousse (made with egg whites) if you are using a heavy insert as it’s a delicate mousse. Each mousse has a different texture and ideal serving temperature depending on the ingredients used. The mousse you will use depends on what you want to reveal in your entremets and the different elements you will be using, as well as the environment (indoor or outdoor).
  15. How can I make a warm mousse? If the warm mousse is for plated dessert you can make a ganache with milk, sugar, agar agar and Valrhona chocolate and then pour everything in a syphon with 2 cartridge gas. Keep the syphon bottle in a bain-marie and use it when ready to serve.
  16. Should I make the mousse more liquid to fill the mold better? Or keep it light and airy? Adding more liquid to the mousse is not necessary. You must follow the temperature as indicated in your mousse recipe and pour the mousse into molds right after mixing. Don’t let it get harder before pouring into the molds.

Praliné Mousse – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making a praliné mousse.

  1. What are the best desserts to make with a praliné mousse? You can use this mousse to make a multitude of desserts, like a petit gâteau, an entremet, a verrine, or mold the mousse and use it in a plated dessert.
  2. Can you make any substitutions for the gelatin? You can try using cocoa butter. The mousse will set the as the cocoa butter crystallizes. Be aware that the mousse can turn out harder if using cocoa butter, so make sure to do a few tests first to make sure you’re using the right amount.
  3. How can this mousse be stored? If you are working in a professional kitchen, it’s best to blast freeze your mousse right after it’s made. Or you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to two days. The ideal serving temperature is 40-42°F (4-6°C).
  4. How long can this mousse be kept in the freezer? If your mousse is blast frozen at -40°F (-40°C) in the center of the freezer and then stored at a constant temperature of -4°F (-20°C), you can keep it up to 2 months. But remember – the fresher the better.
  5. Can you make a mousse that has praliné and chocolate? Absolutely! We suggest pairing the praliné with milk chocolate. Dark chocolate may overpower the flavor and texture of the praliné. If you are using chocolate and praliné in your recipe, it is essential to taste both products in your creation, so some recipe testing may be required.
  6. Can it be made with a homemade praliné? If so, do you have a recipe? Yes, it can be made with homemade praliné. The base of praline is 50% sugar (cooked sugar or sugar syrup) and 50% nuts (e.g. almond, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, peanuts). You can change the ratio by adding more nuts, or you can play with the intensity of the sugar flavor by cooking your sugar at a higher temperature to give it a caramel flavor. If you want a stronger nutty flavor, do not caramelize your sugar. Combine both ingredients and allow to cool on a silicone mat. Then, mix the sugar/caramel with nuts in a food processor until you get a soft paste. You may need to use a grinder if you want a really thin, smooth consistency. If you’d prefer not to make your own, click here to have a look at the range of Valrhona praliné products.
  7. How can I get the nuts to a smooth consistency when making praliné? I only have a blender and a food processor. It can be hard to obtain a thin and smooth homemade praliné simply by using a food processor. You may need to use a grinder with stone wheels or a food roller crusher.
  8. How do you make it without the crème anglaise and gelatin (vegan)? You can make the crème anglaise with a dairy-free beverage, like oat milk or almond milk, but you will have to play with some emulsifiers and stabilizers as the recipe will have less fat and more water. In place of the gelatin, you can use cocoa butter, which will harden as it crystallizes, allowing the mousse to set. Instead of whipped cream, try different whipped elements, such as aquafaba, pea protein, or potato protein. Click here to learn more about dairy-free alternative ingredients and get inspired by our recipes
  9. What is the ratio if you use chocolate and praliné in the recipe? There is no specific ratio as it depends on the chocolate, but you can start with two trials – one recipe with a 2:1 ratio of chocolate to praliné and one recipe with equal parts chocolate and praliné. See which one you prefer and continue to adjust the ratio depending on the final result you’re looking for. Remember, cocoa butter will play an important role in the final texture of your mousse, so you may have to reduce the amount of gelatin if your chocolate contains a lot of cocoa butter.
  10. Usually, my praliné separates and loses oil. How do I make sure that doesn’t happen? No worries – this is a normal occurrence. Before using your praliné, give it a good stir making sure to incorporate all of the hard portions at the bottom of your container. It may be easier to mix your praliné in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on the lowest speed. If you keep your praliné in the refrigerator, the oil separation may still happen but will take a bit more time.

Crème Anglaise – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making a crème anglaise.

  1. What is the ideal consistency? It should be smooth, and slightly thickened, but it will still be runny and not as thick as a crème pâtissière.
  2. What is the best kind of dessert to make with a crème anglaise? Crème anglaise is fantastic as the base for a plated dessert, with a soufflé or simply poured over fresh berries. It can also be used as a simple base for ice cream and Bavarian cream.
  3. What is the best method to temper the egg yolks? Make sure to add the heated milk and cream mixture very slowly, whisking the entire time so that the yolks are not cooked. Ideally, you should mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a spatula first and allow to rest for 3-4 hours to allow lecithin to relax so it coagulates more evenly. 
  4. How do I fix a curdled crème anglaise? First, it depends on how broken the anglaise is. It’s the smooth coagulation of the egg yolks that give you the wonderful texture, and if this is broken, you lose this creamy texture. You can save the mixture by using an immersion blender, but the texture might not the same. 
  5. When do you use a spatula, and when do you use a whisk? We recommend using a spatula as a whisk tends to incorporate air, and you don’t want air in a crème anglaise. 
  6. Can I replace milk or cream with fruit purée? If so, how can I make sure it’s stable? Yes, you could use a fruit purée, but a crème anglaise gets a lot of its mouth feel from the dairy fat. Fruit purée adds a higher percentage of water to the mixture, so you to make it more stable you might need to stabilize it with a touch of pectin. 
  7. Can you make a chocolate crème anglaise?  Yes, you can. Cocoa butter will affect the final consistency, but P125 COEUR DE GUANAJA would be perfect for this. 
  8. Is it possible to make it without eggs? What about vegan?  It wouldn’t be a traditional crème anglaise, but you could make something similar with other hydrochlorides, such as a calcium pectin like X58. 
  9. Do you have any tips for making a small amount? You can adjust the measurements in your recipe to make a smaller amount without changing the method. Use the Essentials tool in the Valrhona App for iOS to adjust the ingredient amounts based on the total volume you’d like to make.
  10. How far in advance can you make a crème anglaise? We don’t recommend keeping a crème anglaise more the 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but it’s quite quick and easy to make so it’s best to make it as you need it.
  11. Can you freeze it? Yes, you can freeze it as long as it is is made properly.
  12. Is it essentially melted vanilla ice cream? Not, it is not really a melted vanilla ice cream. Most ice creams, especially commercial brands, have many other additives like pectins and gums to help with mouth feel and conservation.  However, you can make a very rich, delicious ice cream with crème anglaise.

Namelaka – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making a Namelaka.

  1. What is the difference between a namelaka and a crémeux? “Namelaka” is a Japanese word to describe the delicate creamy texture of this recipe. Because it’s made with a milk base and no eggs, it has a lower fat content than a crémeux and it always contains gelatin.
  2. What is namelaka usually used for? A namelaka is perfect for piping, so it’s great in plated desserts. It can also be used for petits fours, and petits gâteaux and entremets, but make sure to let the namelaka set in the fridge first and then freeze it if needed.
  3. Can namelaka be made without gelatin? Without gelatin your namelaka will be too soft. You can try with vegetal gelatin like agar agar, but you will have to reduce the amount as agar agar is much stronger than gelatin. Also, the texture will not be the same and it’s not ideal to freeze it.
  4. Can you make a vegan namelaka with INSPIRATION ganache? You can probably create a mixture based on the same idea, but you will not have the exact same texture as there are many parameters to take into consideration. The milk and cream will have to be replaced with a non-dairy milk or any other liquid, the gelatin replaced with another gelling agent, and you will probably need to add some coconut oil to lend creaminess and smoothness to the mixture. Look for some alternative recipes on the Valrhona App for iOS.
  5. Can I use non-dairy milk to make namelaka? Yes, but you will still have to replace the cream with an alternative to add creaminess. For this step, refer to the answer to question #4.
  6. Do you need to add any thickening agents to a namelaka? The recipe calls for gelatin as gelling agent and there is no need to add any additional thickening agent.
  7. What about coconut namelaka? At what stage do we add the coconut purée? Cold or hot? You can substitute the milk with coconut purée at the very beginning of the process. You can also make an INSPIRATION namelaka using the same fruit purée as the INSPIRATION flavor you’re using. This will give you a more intense flavor.

Chocolate and Caramel Crémeux – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making a Chocolate Crémeux with Caramel.

  1. What is a crémeux? A crémeux (French for “creamy”) is a cream composed of a liquid (crème anglaise, milk or cream), a flavoring (chocolate, praliné, caramel, fruit purée) and a texturizer (butter, cocoa butter, oil, gelatin).
  2. What is the difference between crémeux, mousse, and namelaka? A crémeux has a dense texture. You can pour it, pipe it, and even do a quenelle. A mousse is light and airy as it contains a whipped texture, such as whipped egg whites, sabayon, or whipped cream. A namelaka is like a panna cotta that you can pipe. It contains milk, chocolate, gelatin, and cream.
  3. What is the difference between a crémeux and a namelaka? Is a crémeux softer? Which one holds shape better? A namelaka contains less dairy fat than a crémeux, always contains gelatin, and has a softer texture. Both can be piped, but the namelaka will be more sensitive to temperature.
  4. What is the difference between a crémeux and a ganache? A ganache is composed of liquid (cream, milk, water, or fruit puree), chocolate and a texturizer (butter, glucose, invert sugar). Depending on the composition, ganache can be used in chocolate bonbons, as inserts for cakes or as the main filling for tarts, macarons and baked pastries. A crémeux does not necessarily contain chocolate. You can, for example, make a crémeux with praliné. Crémeux can be used as a cake insert and for plated desserts, piped or in a quenelle shape.
  5. Does a crémeux always contain chocolate? No, a crémeux does not have to contain chocolate. It can be flavored with praliné or fruit purée.
  6. Why is the glucose necessary? Glucose plays a texturizing role. If you are having a hard time finding it, you may use corn syrup instead, but be aware that the texture may be slightly different.
  7. What’s the best way to make a stable mixture with perfect texture? Make sure to respect the temperature. Partially melt your chocolate. When starting your emulsion with the warm liquid (aqueous phase) and the chocolate (fatty phase), the mixture should be above 95°F (35°C), which is the approximate cocoa butter fusion point temperature. Finish your mixture by using an immersion blender and make sure to not incorporate air bubbles.
  8. Can I put it in the freezer? Yes, it’s freezer stable, but before freezing it, make sure to let it crystallize overnight in the refrigerator.
  9. How long can it be kept in the refrigerator? Crémeux should be consumed within 5 days, assuming it is made is the best hygiene protocol.
  10. Would a crémeux be a good filling for bonbons? Crémeux has a high water content, so it is not recommended for use as a bonbon filling because it would make shelf life of your bonbons very short.
  11. Can I use it in a tartelette? Yes, you can, but we do not recommend making a tartelette with crémeux only. Consider playing with different textures, such as biscuit, sponge cake, ganache, and/or caramel.

Praliné Crémeux – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making a Praliné Crémeux.

  1. What can a praliné crémeux be used for? There are tons of uses for a praliné crémeux! It can be used for plated desserts, entremets, roulades. It can also be used as a filling for cream puffs or éclairs as it’s great for piping.
  2. Is it suitable as a layer for an entremets or a petit gâteau? If it’s a thin layer, yes. The texture isn’t very firm, and it stays creamy, so keep this in mind when using in these applications.
  3. Can you use any kind of nut praliné in this recipe? What adjustments would you need to make? We have different recipes formulated for each of our pralinés. You can find them in the Valrhona App for iOS or in the Valrhona Essentials recipe book.
  4. What is the shelf life in the refrigerator? It will usually last five days or up to seven if stored correctly.
  5. How long to store it and how long does it stay in the chiller? Let your crémeux set for at least six hours before piping. Overnight is even better.
  6. How long can you store it in the freezer? Store it in the freezer for up to one month.
  7. How do you make the praliné paste? Praliné paste is made with roasted nuts and caramelized sugar. There are many variables based on these base components and each variation will give different flavors – i.e. more caramel on the sugar, more roasting of the nuts, different types of nuts ... the possibilities are endless!
  8. Would it still work without the immersion blender? Yes, but you will get a much smoother finished texture by using an immersion blender. If you don’t have one, you can use a food processor instead.
  9. How do you add praliné to a crémeux with egg yolks and chocolate? Adding praliné to a chocolate crémeux will give it a different texture, which we don’t recommend. It might also be difficult to taste the praliné with the chocolate. Perhaps using AZÉLIA 35% hazelnut milk chocolate to make a classic crémeux (with a crème anglaise base) is a better way to get a combination of chocolate and nut flavors.

Chocolate Jelly – CLICK HERE 

  1. What are some uses for chocolate jelly? Jelly is best in verrines, petits fours or plated desserts. It could also be used in a small cake or tart that isn’t frozen.
  2. Can you use jelly as an insert in mousse cakes? It could be possible, but as the chocolate jelly is not freezable, it would need to be in a cake that doesn’t need freezing to assemble.
  3. Is it good on top of a tart? Yes, you can use jelly in tarts, but keep in mind the jelly cannot be frozen and the texture is not super firm – it’s like a firm crème brûlée.
  4. How do you ensure the jelly sets? It’s important to bring the pectin to boil to activate it.
  5. What kind of pectin is used? The pectin our L’École Valrhona chefs use is called X58. It’s pectin that only needs the presence of calcium to be activated, so it’s ideal to use with chocolate recipes as there is usually milk or cream.
  6. Can I use gelatin instead of pectin? And if I use dark chocolate, is it the same amount? It could be possible to make jelly with gelatin, and the quantity would be similar. If using dark chocolate, you would probably need to reduce the quantity by about 40-50g.
  7. Can it be made with any setting agent? For this recipe, only X58 pectin works to achieve the best results.
  8. How can I make jelly with agar agar without it being too solid? If using agar agar, it will produce a firm texture when set. Some chefs have combined agar agar with gelatin to help with the texture a little. This also helps the agar hold onto water better. 
  9. How long is the shelf life? I want to pack and sell it at a market. The shelf life of jelly is quite short – about 3-5 days in the fridge – as there is a lot of active water in the recipe. 
  10. Can I freeze the jelly to take out of a mold? No, this recipe doesn’t freeze very well. There is a lot of loose water so the texture after freezing is not very good. It’s also not ideal for unmolding.
  11. Is the jelly brittle or will it slice cleanly and stay intact? No, jelly is not brittle. It’s like the texture of a firm crème brûlée.
  12. How do I make jelly with pineapple? This depends on what kind of jelly you want. You could make a pâte de fruits with gelatin, agar agar, or there are also some other pectins that would work, but all have slightly different textures.
  13. What is a good formulation for a fruit jelly in a bonbon? For bonbons, it’s best to use a pâte de fruits instead of jelly.
  14. What is a good recipe for coffee jelly? To make a coffee jelly, you can infuse the milk in the Valrhona Essentials recipe with coffee.

Molten Lava Cakes – CLICK HERE to watch the Valrhona Essentials tutorial for making a molten lava cakes

  1. What kind of mold is required for this recipe? A metal ring mold is best, either buttered or lined with parchment paper. You could also bake these in a ramekin or soufflé cup.
  2. Can you use any size small mold for these? Small to medium (5cm-8cm) molds are going to give you the best results with an evenly baked outside and the molten inside.
  3. What can they be filled with? You can fill a molten lava cake with more chocolate so it will melt during baking, caramel, praliné or nut butters. Just keep in mind that anything too heavy can sink to the bottom during baking.
  4. Can you make one with white chocolate? I tried once, but it collapsed. Still tasty though. Dark chocolate is the best option as the milk powder in the white chocolate can burn during baking. White chocolate is also sweeter, so the different composition will affect the final product.  
  5. How would you make this without eggs? The eggs are important for the overall texture and molten effect. You could try using an egg replacer, but the flavor and texture could be adversely affected.
  6. How do you make sure the center remains liquid? The baking time is key because the longer the cake bakes, the less liquid the center becomes. Ideally, there will be a perfect balance of baked outside and molten center.
  7. How far in advance can they be made? The cake batter can be made and stored in the refrigerator for several days. Once baked, they should be consumed while still hot or warm to get the full effect.
  8. What is the best way to store the cakes after they’re baked? Before they’re baked? It’s best to eat molten lava cakes while they’re still hot or warm.  You can store the batter in the fridge for several days, but I wouldn’t recommend chilling or storing the batter in the molds.
  9. Are they freezable? You could probably freeze the batter, but we don’t recommend freezing after baking. They should be consumed right away after they come out of the oven.
  10. How do you make sure they are “melting” after baking and not dry? Oven times and temperatures will vary, especially depending on the size of the mold you choose. It’s best to bake one as a test to make sure it’s baked but still molten in the center.
  11. What is the best chocolate to use for lava cakes? Does it have to be a certain percentage? Is milk chocolate OK to use? Dark chocolate is ideal, and any percentage will do. It just depends on your desired flavor profile. For example, MANJARI 64% has red fruit notes and would be delicious with a raspberry sauce or fresh berries as a garnish.  Milk chocolate is much sweeter and not ideal for this application, but a higher percentage of milk chocolate, like BAHIBÉ 46% could be a good option.
  12. Why not just ganache inside? The traditional way to make a molten lava cake is to simply underbake the cake. However, you could use an insert, such as our GUANAJA ETNAO inserts to create a melted ganache center. Take care that your batter is thick enough to support the insert so it doesn’t sink to the bottom of the cake.
  13. Can you make it flourless? You can try a gluten-free flour mix instead of flour, but the flour is necessary to give the cake structure.
Download in progress