Category Archives: Ganache

Secrets of a Great Ganache

Here reader Aaron, an apprentice chocolatier who really has a handle on how to make a suerior ganache, weighs in. All those who aspire to use ganache to make candies like truffles, you’ll want to pay close attention.

If I may submit a few tips on making a ganache. In my opinion, it is actually easier to think of a ganache as an emulsion, rather than as a crystal. While crystallization does play a part in creating the perfect ganache, a proper emulsion plays a far larger part.

The bloom you see on the top of a ganache is like the drops of oil you see floating on an improperly made vinaigrette. Add some mustard, whip it up, and voila, no drops. Ganache contains mainly water and fat so at best, the mix is unstable. Add cocoa solids, lecithin and milk solids and the strangers at the party start talking.

The best weapon employed in creating the perfect ganache? A stick blender. Use the mixer to emulsify at 91.5 degrees Fahrenheit (33C), not below to avoid fat coalescence, and make sure that when mixing, no air is incorporated (blade cavitation is bad news, so keep it immersed). Mix until the ganache is super shiny with no fat smears and it just starts to appreciably thicken.

I have never used clarified butter and I don’t know why recipes call for it. Butter in it’s natural state is the perfect emulsifier (Mcgee wrote about this in some long article about Hollandaise). With clarified butter, one benefits by lowering moisture activity, extending shelf life and and gaining the ability to add the butter with the hot cream. One loses powerful emulsifying agents, fresh taste and a bit of je ne sais quois (I think it’s called melty-ness). The trick is to let the ganache cool to 93 degrees (34C) before adding ROOM TEMP butter and them emulsify. It’s not good if the butter goes in, melts and separates, and then ruins the emulsion.

The ganache should never rise about 93 degrees (34C) so as to not lose the temper in the chocolate. Between 89 degrees and (32C) and 73 (23C), it should not be touched. And then below 73 (23C) it can be molded. Always enrobe above 91.5 (33C). To summarize:

1. Boil cream and sweeteners
2. Infuse flavorings
3. Pour over tempered, room temp chocolate
4. Let sit for 5-10
5. Stir, starting in the center to get an emulsion and then moving outward
6. Add butter when cooled to 93 degrees (34C)
7. Zap with immersion blender until shiny
8. Pipe at this point if desired
9. Don’t touch while cooling (no fridge)
cut at this point

Fabulous stuff. Thanks Aaron! I’ll file this under the permanent ganache tutorial for future reference.

Filed under:  Ganache, Ganache, Pastry Components | 4 Comments

How to Make Ganache

This is a standard, easy, workingman’s ganache, great for baking applications. Ganache (pronounced ga-NAHsh) is most commonly a 50-50 combination of chocolate and heavy cream (by weight). Known as “soft” ganache, this is the kind that is typically used for toppings and drizzles, or whipped to make cake fillings. Heavier “firm” ganaches (say, 2-1 chocolate to cream) are more commonly used in candy and/or truffle making.

Here I should emphasize that when it comes to melting chocolate, I’m a microwave man. I find it much simpler, quicker and less risky than a double boiler or sauce pan. Where a typical ganache recipe will instruct you to “scald” your cream in a pan before you use it, that step is actually an anachronism, originally employed to kill bacteria, but no longer needed in the age of ultra-pasteurized dairy. The microwave is gentle, fast and to my way of seeing things, foolproof.

So then, start by putting your chocolate, however much you plan to use, in a microwave-proof bowl.

Pour in an equal amount of cream…

And insert in the microwave. Here I must emphasize that a microwave must be used judiciously where chocolate is concerned. Several short bursts on “high” are what’s required, as opposed to one or two long ones. I start with a 30-second zap, stir, and then use as many 20-second blasts as I need after that (generally about 4 for this much ganache).

Three zaps and you can see there’s a little melting going on.

For shots and — oh no! My chocolate, it’s seized! Actually yes. “Seizing” is what happens when cocoa solids get wet. They swell up and stick together, creating clumps. But the thing about seizing is, it’s no big deal*, especially in this case, since ganache is a relatively watery mixture (as a result of the cream). As that water continues to mix with the sugar in the chocolate it will form a smooth syrup that will eventually re-lubricate the cocoa solids and create a smooth sauce.

One more burst of microwaves and you can see that things are once again going my way. There are still quite a few unmelted chocolate chips, but by now I’ve built up enough heat that stirring will take me the rest of the way.

Another 45 seconds and we have touchdown. The ganache emulsion-with-a-suspension has been achieved.

This ganache is ready to use as, say, an éclair topping. If you were planning to use it for a truffle or some other longer-lasting application, like maybe to cover a cake, you’d want to add a tablespoon of corn syrup to inhibit runaway crystallization of the cocoa butter (that white film that melted and re-hardened chocolate often gets).

Some crystallization, however, is important for a ganache, which is why a warm ganache should always be allowed to sit at room temperature for at least a few hours before being refrigerated. That gives the fat in the ganache time to form a limited crystal structure, without which the ganache will become limp and greasy.

Lastly, I should insert that ganaches can be flavored. Some people simply add a little vanilla (or other extract) to the finished product to add complexity. Some people add a little booze or shot of liqueur. Me, I frequently like to get jiggy widdit by infusing the cream with various types of tea or herbs like lavender or lemon verbena. This of course requires a saucepan since you’ll want to add your whatever-it-is to your cream and simmer it until you have as much flavor infused into the cream as you wish. When that point is reached you simply strain out your leaves and carry on as usual.

* Should your chocolate seize on you when you’re melting it for a non-ganache application, don’t panic. Simply keep adding warm water, a few drops at a time, until the chocolate smoothes back out again.

Filed under:  Ganache, Ganache, Pastry Components | 16 Comments