Advanced Chocolate 201, part 2: Ganache
There’s something about ganacheâ€”that creamy, chocolate delightâ€”that instantly makes sugary confections extra special. Drizzled on top of cupcakes, tucked into the middle of a lava cake, or as the surprise center of a high-quality truffle, ganache could be considered the end-all and be-all of desserts.
Pairing two parts dark chocolate and one part cream makes classic ganache. Variations to the classic recipe use fruit purees, nuts, sugars, butter, spices or liquors to create a myriad of textures and flavors.
There is quite a bit of science behind formulating the perfect ganache, according to Joe Sofia, district manager of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate and member of Retail Confectioners International, a non-profit trade association serving the chocolate and confectionery industry. Ganache is a stable, fat-in-water emulsion. It must contain enough water-based ingredients to create the continuous phase of the emulsion. In chemistry, the â€˜continuous phaseâ€™ is the liquid in a disperse system in which solids are suspended or droplets of another liquid are dispersed.
The cream you use will affect the quality of the ganache. Lighter creams, which consist of 18-36% butterfat, will contain more water than heavier creams, which have a butterfat content up to 42%. The fat in the ganache comes from both butterfat in the cream and cocoa butter in the chocolate. â€˜Ganache made with both high-butterfat cream and high-cocoa-butter chocolateâ€”greater than 40%â€”will be more susceptible to oiling out or Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbreaking,’â€™ Sofia says.
One method to create ganache is to pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and blend the ingredients with a mixer or a hand whisk. You want the emulsion to reach 85â€“88 degrees Fahrenheit. Any cooler than this, and some of the chocolate may not melt; any warmer than this, and the ganache may have a grainy texture when cooled.
An alternate method is to incorporate melted chocolate into the liquid ingredients. The temperature of the liquid should be cooler, in the range of 80â€“120 degrees Fahrenheit. Using tempered chocolate can help ensure a smooth, silky finished ganache.
Practice will determine the right liquid temperature for your ganache recipe. If the ganache is too warm, it can be â€˜tabledâ€™ by moving the ganache around on a marble slab until it reaches the desired consistency. A soft ganache can be piped into chocolate shells or cakes and firmer ganache can be cut into shapes. You can create a firm ganache by letting it rest for 12 to 24 hours before cutting it.
Some information provided by Retail Confectioners International, a non-profit trade association serving the chocolate and confectionery industry since 1917.
Read more: Advanced Chocolate 201, Part 1: From Cocoa Beans to Chocolate Bars