Ganache · GF (an ode to cream)
I hadn’t intended to include a ganache recipe, ganache is more ratio than recipe: equal parts cream and chocolate, some vanilla and a pinch of salt thrown in for bonus points. But I had several people e-mail me to ask for it, so here it is.
I figure if you know how to make ganache you’re not reading this. If you don’t know how to make ganache, then we’ve probably got a lot to talk about.
Yeah. There is a lot to say about cream and chocolate.
First of all. Cream. I’m not gonna lie, I think off brand grocery store cream is just as good as Land-o-Lakes, so if it came down to it, I’d buy the off brand and spend whatever I saved on better chocolate.
However, if you can get a hold of fresh, non-homogenized, low-temp pasteurized (or raw!) cream, you owe it to yourself to make ganache with it just once. In Kentucky, JD Country Milk is widely available at farmers’ markets and coops, but wherever you live there is surely a dairy selling some cream worth seeking out.
This kind of cream is nothing short of life changing. It’s non-homogenized, so the neck of the glass bottle will be thoroughly blocked by a delicious clot of butter so dense that you could hold the bottle upside down and not spill a drop. Once you actually excavate the butter-clump (ideally to spread on a halved baguette with a little smear of apricot jam…), you’ll find the cream is thicker than ceiling paint, a dreamy off white color, and nothing like any cream you’ve ever had before. It’ll go all weird in your coffee, breaking up into milk and butter, but don’t be scared. Just stir it up.
Uh, sorry. So anyhow, ganache. Once, before you die, make ganache out of fresh cream. If you can’t use great cream, be sure to use great chocolate, never chocolate chips. They may seem convenient, but they’re chock full of stabilizers to help them hold their tear drop shape while baking. Chocolate chips are also usually a bit acidic; this is meant to help their flavor shine through the heavy, fatty cookie dough. It ends up tasting pretty harsh in ganache.
You can use milk or dark chocolate to make ganache; you’ll need an extra pinch of salt to round out the sweetness of milk chocolate. You can make white chocolate ganache too, but it tends to be a little thinner so it takes a bit less cream. I’ll save that for another post.
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
8 ounces cream (use unsweetened coconut milk for vegan/dairy free)
8 ounces chocolate, chopped
1/8 tsp (pinch) kosher salt
Bring the cream to a boil with the vanilla bean, shut off the heat, and allow it to steep for an hour. (If time and money are of the essence, skip the bean and whisk in a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract at the end.)
After the cream and vanilla have steeped, remove the bean. Be sure to rescue all the vanilla-y cream from inside the bean and return it to the pot. Now bring the cream to a boil again, breaking up any skin that has formed on the surface.
Set the cream off the heat and add in the chocolate and pinch of salt, whisking until smooth. I don’t believe in pouring the cream over the chocolate. I think some people just want you to get a lot of bowls dirty…
(If, for whatever reason, and I’m not asking any questions or judging, you’re using kinda crappy chocolate, a 1/4 tsp of espresso powder goes a long way in rounding out the flavor of bad chocolate…Not that I’m endorsing that, or suggesting you’re that sort of person, or that I’ve ever done that before. I’m just saying.)
Feb 07, 2012 · 9:39 AM
@Endeavour2828, to be honest, I haven’t gone with or even heard of the double boiler method. That sounds way too high maintenance, and more like someone just wanting to write a fancy recipe. Even so, at CIA they recommend double boiling not a double boiler. That is, to bring the cream to a simmer, shut off the heat and wait about 10 minutes, then bring it to a simmer again. This destroys the skin that can form on the surface and results in a smoother ganache. Though if you just use the hot cream straight away, I’ve yet to notice a difference. Hope that info helps!
Apr 08, 2012 · 10:14 AM
What about adding extra stuff like peanut butter or fruit? Does that change the ratio of cream or chocolate to use?
Also, thanks so much for your no-nonsense baking tips. I can’t stand all that prissy stuff. I laughed so hard at your macaronage = the matrix analogy from another post
Apr 08, 2012 · 12:07 PM
@Megan, what you add largely depends on what you want to do with the ganache. If you want it to make for a glaze, a tart filling, a sauce, etc. You can definitely whisk in a lot of flavoring elements, strained jam or creamy peanut butter. Often this will break the ganache, giving it a greasy, separated look. To fix it, you’ll need to whisk in more cream until it becomes smooth again.
Because it can take a little experience to know what things will and won’t break the ganache, the safest bets are more concentrated flavors like extracts, liquors, citrus zest, etc. You can also flavor the cream by steeping it with tea leaves, coffee beans, herbs and spices.
Apr 11, 2012 · 12:49 PM
Just discover your blog a few days ago and Love it! trying out your macaron recipes! My 1st batch vanilla ones turned out hollow and feetless (think my gas oven was a little too hot and maybe also need to beat my meringue longer?) but still yummy and chewy. Going to try again but with ganache filling instead of b-cream. Would like to know how long can the ganache keep and can I freeze extras in the freezer? If they can be freezed, how to defrost and use? Thanks lot!
Apr 11, 2012 · 9:00 PM
@Lee Cheng, it’s tricky getting the feet just right at first. Usually, it involves nothing but practice, practice, practice. But at least they were still delicious! Congrats.
Ganache will keep for about a week and you can definitely freeze any extra. Just defrost gently in the microwave. Once it starts getting melty, stir it between zaps. Alternately, you can re-melt the ganache in a water bath. Hope that helps!
Jun 21, 2012 · 9:27 AM
@luv2cook, how much coconut liquor did you add? White chocolate ganache, if made with a 1:1 ratio, is very thin. I usually make it with more of a 1:2 ratio (1 part cream 2 parts chocolate). To fix it, you can warm the ganache to room temperature then whisk in some more melted white chocolate.
Aug 30, 2012 · 9:09 AM
Hi nanalil, you can bring the ganache together by whisking in more cream. Some chocolates (especially chips) are more prone to breaking, and all they need is an extra splash of cream to smooth out. Hope that solves your problem!
Dec 28, 2012 · 10:50 AM
Hi Alicia! You got it.
Feb 19, 2013 · 9:47 PM
Hi Z! This ganache will set up pretty thick, like a truffle, so you can definitely use it for a macaron filling. When you first make it, it will be very liquidy though. You’ll have to refrigerate it for it to set up. I feel like macarons with ganache filling have a shorter shelf life, so enjoy ‘em as soon as you can.
Jul 06, 2013 · 12:03 PM
Hi Hira. So long as a recipe uses equal parts chocolate and cream, you should get a fairly thick ganache. But before coating a cake, it’s best to let the ganache stand a few minutes so that it’s warm but not hot. When it’s hot it tends to slide right off the buttercream.
I love any of the chocolates from Callebaut, come in one pound blocks at gourmet shops. But for the little 3oz bars you often find in the snack aisle of Whole Foods or other upscale markets, I’m a big fan of brand called Chocolove (despite their cheesy name). They have a 77% that’s great for baking. There’s also Green & Blacks, and a brand called Divine that I like too.
Milk chocolates (anything 53% or lower, really) have softer texture in ganache, and white chocolates make a very loose ganache and usually do better in a different ratio, like 4 parts chocolate to 3 parts cream.
Hope that puts you on the right track, let me know if you have any other questions!
Jul 06, 2013 · 2:12 PM
Hi Hira! I’m in America too (Kentucky), so those brands may be lurking around under the radar. Here, Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Trader Joes all carry those brands (for the most part) and I can also get them at a local party supply store. But instead of running around town, you can buy them on Amazon too. It’s often cheaper that way because you can buy in bulk.
Jul 22, 2013 · 11:45 PM
Hi Stella! I found your blog when searching for information about macarons and fell in love! I’ve made one batch of vanilla almond ones and they were delicious, even if not quite perfect (but who cares, because cookie). I’m wondering about when exactly to add the vanilla extract- is it after the first boil or at the end of the entire process? Please let me know! Thanks!
Jul 26, 2013 · 4:22 PM
Hi Hayley! I like to whisk the vanilla extract in at the very end, as it doesn’t always hold up at higher temperatures. Once the chocolate’s melted in, the overall temp drops and it’s a perfect time. Happy baking!
Nov 06, 2013 · 1:02 PM
For what it’s worth, you can also find those chocolates in Los Angeles at Whole Foods, and in industrial chunks at the cook’s heaven that is Surfas (http://www.culinarydistrict.com/) — you can also buy online for those not in the area. I’m guessing Amazon is cheaper, but I know Surfas has high turnover so nothing from them should have been on a shelf for too long (not sure if that is an issue for chocolate, though it might be for other products).
Feb 03, 2014 · 2:46 PM
Hi daguester! You’re totally innocent here. One can make ganache with anything from pure fruit reduction to pure butter, so the change in butterfat from ultra heavy to 40% wouldn’t constitute any sort of make or break difference.
Without knowing more details about her recipe/ratio, I’m not exactly sure what’s going on. “Not setting up” could be anything from soft to soupy. If you’d like to point her to my blog or give her my email address (email@example.com), I’d be happy to try and help her figure out the problem.
Mar 15, 2014 · 1:08 PM
Hi MA! Oh wow, that’s hardcore! I rarely go darker than the upper 70s, since there is nothing in the ganache to counteract the astringency. Unsweetened chocolate is much more likely to break in a ganache, so I’m really glad to hear you were able to make it successfully and enjoy it too. Hurray!
Mar 23, 2014 · 8:24 PM
Hi Lys! It really depends on what you want to do with it. For example, you can melt it back down to use as a sauce or a glaze, or you can keep it cold to scoop into little truffles. Do you have anything specific in mind?
May 08, 2014 · 6:01 PM
Wow! You are an amazing and committed blogger!! Thanks for the info. Just wondering if you know why some recipes say you need to whip the ganache once it is cooled? What are your thoughts on this? I need my ganache to set firm to put fondant icing over with sharp edges. Thanks!! You sound like a true expert!
May 15, 2014 · 12:41 PM
Hi, you seem to a total guru at these things, hoping you wouldn’t mind helping me on my overly brave disaster ganache. Made ganache a hundred times, but decided to do a peanut butter and white chocolate whipped ganache for cupcakes. I looked around and then ignored what I’d read. I doubled the amount of peanut butter (smooth), and got worried so put the PB in with the cream while it was coming to boil. It was thick, then split when it hit the chocolate, and the more I beat it, the worse it got. Then I added icing sugar mix to try to even it out (it didn’t). The whole lot is in the fridge under a layer of congealed fat. Can it be retrieved?
May 21, 2014 · 11:13 AM
Hi Judes! Sorry for the delayed response, I was on a bit of a vacation. Whipping the ganache is simply a different preparation; by incorporating air it becomes lighter in texture so you can use it as a frosting or a light truffle filling. But unwhipped ganache is ideal for glazing, or for super creamy truffles, so it would be perfect for pouring over a cake.
Hi Katie! Aw, that’s too bad. Peanut butter, cream, and white chocolate are all very high-fat ingredients, so it sounds like the emulsion broke under the strain. You might be able to find some sort of use for it, but with icing sugar already in the mix I don’t think it will ever behave as a ganache. You could probably drop scoops of the mixture into a brownie batter, though! It might not make the prettiest swirl, but at least you could enjoy the wonderful flavor.