I’d rather ask what ISN’T Ganache???
Oh let me count the ways we can use this rich chocolate delicacy!
Truffles are the first thing that come to MY mind when I think of ganache.
Next I think of that Shiny Glaze on a rich decadent torte!
Then there is Whipped Ganache for a light as air filling for cakes.
But lets talk about what is ganache really?
Of course we add flavors or nuts or fruit pastes and purees; and we can change the ratios of chocolate to cream and get different consistencies based on the specific application we are going for.
As simple as it may seem Chocolate as we already know, is very complex.
The addition of liquids to this delicate ingredient can sometimes create complications.
Chocolate is very temperature sensitive.
Anyone who has ever over heated chocolate during the melting process has learned this first hand when the lovely chocolate has seized into a solid grainy mass right before their eyes!
I’ll never forget my first experience with making ganaches for truffles and tortes in Culinary School.
I was feeling so confident in my pastry skills. I was on top of the world, and then as quickly as I got to the top of Mount St. Ganache, I was tumbling down to a sea of broken curdled grainy chocolate mess.
You see, the idea of mixing 2 ingredients while simple as it sounds is not always so easy.
Most often we are having success by chance. So it is those times that we have failure and cannot understand WHY, since it has worked out so many times before right??
Well it’s time to understand the science of emulsification when applying it to a simple recipe called:
Mixing Chocolate and Cream together is similar to mixing oil and water. This is not something that is naturally occurring. So the process of mixing Two other wise UN-Mixable ingredients is called EMULSIFICATION. Think Oil and Vinegar. These two ingredients will just float on top of the other unless we shake it up and then pour it on our salad, right?
With a little help from HEAT and AGITATION we can achieve a beautiful emulsion.
A Basic “master” recipe for Ganache is simply equal parts (by weight) chocolate and cream.
So for example if you have 8 ounces (224g) of Chocolate, you will use 8 fluid ounces of heavy cream (237ml)
This will give you a medium ganache.
For a softer setting ganache you will use more cream and for a firmer ganache you will use more chocolate.
The most common ganache recipes are made from Dark Chocolates. You can make White Chocolate Ganaches and Milk Chocolate too,
but it is necessary to reduce the cream amounts to compensate for the added fat content in both of those types of chocolate.
For a recipe as listed about for the “master ganache” ~ to change it for milk or white chocolate remove 2 ounces of cream
The traditional method for making ganache is to start with chocolate that is chopped to the same sized pieces.
If you have larger chunks and smaller chunks, once you pour the hot cream, you will have uneven melting and risk a lumpy ganache.
Once the cream has come to a boil you pour the entire amount over the chopped chocolate in the bowl.
Allow it to sit for about half a minute to 1 minute to allow the heat to penetrate the entire surface area of all the chocolate.
Next you will stir to create the emulsion (this is the agitation)
Alternatively you can melt the chocolate separately and combine with the warm cream.
Too much agitation will cause rapid cooling to below 90 degrees F which will produce an GRAINY ganache.
Temperature is an important factor in emulsification of ganache. The optimal temperature is 90 degrees F to 110 degrees F.
If the temperature rises above 110 degrees F, the cocoa butter in the chocolate gets too hot and the fats will pool together and separate. This is what causes a “broken” ganache.
Repairing a Broken Ganache:
Divide the entire portion of broken ganache into 2 parts.
Warm 1 part over a double boiler to about 130 degrees F. This will cause the fats to re-melt making the mixture thinner.
Take the other portion of ganache and cool it to 60 degrees F over an Ice Bath causing the fats to solidify making the mixture thicker.
Once you have reached desired temperature with both portions, remove the 1 portion from the ice water bath (to avoid any water splashing) and slowly begin streaming the hot ganache mixture into the cold mixture while stirring gently.
Consistency of Ganaches:
MEDIUM- 1 part chocolate : 1 part cream
For Truffles, Glazing Cakes, adding to Whipped Cream or Buttercream, using for a thick filling in cakes or spreadable icings
FIRM- 2 parts chocolate : 1 part cream
For Truffles, Firm layers inside of cakes, also great when adding fruit pastes, nuts and other ingredients since it is very firm to start off with.
SOFT- 1 part chocolate : 2 parts cream
For Whipped Ganache, use as chocolate sauce, drinking chocolate, or pour into tart shells and let set for a creamy tart filling