mmm, ganache! Wonderful, luxurious, creamy, silky, pure chocolate pleasure! And what a wide variety of treats you can do with it! Rich truffles, chocolate cake, chocolate tart, a sauce for your ice cream or dip for your cookies… And the best of all – it is really simple to make it; only two ingredients, and you just have to follow some rules.
What is Ganache?
Ganache [ganaʃ] is a rich cream that basically consists of chocolate (any type – dark, milk or white) and cream (whipping cream or double cream is the best choice). It can be used for making truffles, as cream in cakes and pastries, as a sauce, or as a glaze. Its texture depends on the chocolate to cream ratio – when there is more cream than chocolate, the ganache will be lighter and also liquid at room temperature. If, however, ganache contains more chocolate than cream, then it will be firmer, becoming solid at room temperature.
Truffles are rich chocolate bonbons made of very dense ganache, usually rolled into a ball and coated with bitter cocoa powder or ground nuts. Instead of rolling truffles into cocoa powder or nuts, it is possible to dip them into tempered chocolate. Chocolate truffles, because of their irregular shape, resemble precious truffle mushrooms, and because of that, they earned the same name. The ratio of chocolate and cream in truffles is in favor of chocolate, and the result is a rich chocolate bite that stays firm at room temperature. I like to use double the amount of chocolate than cream by weight for my truffles, but you can experiment and make your own favorite recipe. Remember, if you use chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids, for example, 70%, the same recipe will result with firmer ganache than you would get with chocolate containing 55% cocoa solids.
Ganache as a Cream
Ganache as cream or filling in cakes and pastries is a bit softer than ganache for making truffles. The most commonly used ratio of ingredients is the same amount of chocolate and cream by weight. That type of ganache is very liquid until it cools down at room temperature when it becomes soft and creamy. If you put it in the refrigerator, it will become firm.
Ganache sauce in my mind would be a thick chocolate mass where I can dip my churros, cookies (why not?) or anything sweet and crispy or it can be drizzled over a bowl of ice cream. Everything tastes better with some chocolate ganache sauce, doesn’t it? For this purpose, I would put some more cream than chocolate by weight into the ganache.
Ganache glaze is a beautiful and shiny outer coating of a cake or pastry. When making the ganache for the glaze, it should be liquid once made, and you should use it immediately while it is still warm.
How to Make Ganache
There are two methods of making ganache:
- Without the bain-marie: Put the cream in a saucepan and warm it up, and chop the chocolate into small pieces. When the cream starts boiling, pour it over finely chopped chocolate. Set aside for few minutes, and stir well until all the chocolate melts. Be careful not to incorporate air into the ganache, and that means – stir, don’t whisk it! When you get glossy, silky uniform mixture, your silky chocolate pleasure is ready.
- With the bain-marie: Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie. Warm up the cream to approximately 40°C (104°F) and add it to melted chocolate little by little, stirring well after each addition, until you use all the cream, and the mixture becomes uniform.
What Can I Add to a Ganache?
There are several ways to add flavor and twist to your ganache. The most important is the timing – or when to add what – which depends on the type of ingredients or flavors you want to use.
The cold infusion is a process where you add flavoring to cold cream you are going to use for making your ganache. Then you cover the cream with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for 24h or at least overnight. After that, you take out your flavoring, heat the cream and make your ganache. This method is most often used for flavoring ganache with citrus zest, spices, coffee beans, mint or other leaves.
The Hot infusion is putting a flavoring into the cream and warming all together. Before making a ganache, you should strain the cream. This method of flavoring is suitable for spices and herbs.
Adding Flavorings into Already Made Ganache
The most frequently used ingredient for adding to already made ganache is butter. Butter gives shine and creamy, silky texture to a ganache when cooled to room temperature. You can also add a liqueur, an extract, fruit reduction, etc.
Chemistry behind Ganache
There is some science in making the perfect ganache, and you should know it in order to understand it. Ganache is water-in-fat emulsion. What the heck is that?
OK, let’s start with the ingredients. Chocolate contains cocoa solids, fat (cocoa butter), some sugar, vanilla and lecithin (an emulsifier). The cream contains lots of water and 35-40% fat (whipping cream or double cream). So what happens when you pour water into fat? You have to shake pretty hard to mix them together, right? That is emulsion. The emulsion is a mixture of water and fat, where tiny droplets of one are dispersed through another, and the solids are suspended in the liquid. The type of chocolate used for making ganache is as important as the type of the cream. If you use high fat chocolate (with lots of cocoa butter) and high fat cream, your ganache will be more susceptible to oiling out or breaking.
What to Do if Ganache Separates?
There are few problems that can occur when making a ganache:
- Curdling is a common occurrence. It can happen when you leave ganache to cool in cold places, which results in fast firming of the outer part of the ganache while the center of the ganache is still warm and liquid. Don’t panic, it can easily be resolved with stirring. Stir carefully, and make sure that you don’t incorporate any air into the ganache. When mixture becomes uniform again, stop stirring. My advice is – when you put your ganache in the fridge, stir every few minutes to even the temperature. By doing that, you will get uniform textured ganache.
- Grainy ganache is usually a product of excessive whisking. If you whisk your ganache, you will incorporate air, and you can easily overwhip the cream inside the ganache. If you just incorporate air, you can re-heat your ganache over a bain-marie, and strain it through a sieve. However, if you overwhip the cream inside the ganache, there is nothing you can do to save it. Throw it away and start from the beginning.
- Separated ganache occurs when the temperature of the ingredients is too high or too low to make an emulsion. If your separated ganache is too hot, cool it a little bit and stir well until all the ingredients bind. If your ganache is cold and separated, you just need to warm it up over bain-marie and stir.
How to Store Ganache
If made well, you can keep ganache in the refrigerator up to a week, or in the freezer up to a month. If you freeze ganache, thaw it in the refrigerator, and before using, reheat over a bain-marie.
If you are not already in the kitchen, making some kind of chocolate luscious treat, you should be! I know that my chocolate ganache tart is just set and ready for me… Want a bite? Come over and join me! Or make your own decadent chocolate dessert and don’t forget to let me know how it turned out!
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