When I was in cooking school, I loved showing off my newly acquired culinary
skills in front of my sisters. One winter break, my sister Laurie was baking a
birthday cake for a friend in my mother's wood-paneled Brooklyn kitchen.
Being a typical culinary student, I was appalled to see her reach for a can of
"Why don't you just make ganache?" I asked in my best I-know-
something- that-you-don't-know tone.
"What's that?" she asked.
Seizing the opportunity to impress my sister with a basic pastry
technique, I looked around the kitchen for chocolate and cream. I heated the
cream in the microwave and poured it over the chocolate.
From those humble ingredients emerged a luxurious, decadent
She was amazed. What sounded exotic and mysterious was so
easy that even her sister could do it!
While it does sound exotic, basic ganache is made with just two ingredients:
chocolate and cream. By varying techniques and tweaking ingredients, you
can turn basic ganache into a truffle, a glaze, a frosting, a mousse, a tart, a
warm drink, or a frozen pop.
Adjusting the proportion of chocolate and cream changes the
density of the finished product. More cream makes it thinner and lighter and
more chocolate makes it thicker and denser. You can also manipulate
ganache by changing its temperature. It becomes thinner as it heats and
thicker as it cools.
The idea of mixing two ingredients seems simple. But mixing
chocolate and cream is equivalent to mixing oil and water, which can't
normally be done. This process of mixing twounmixable ingredients is called
Remember the school science fair? Wasn't there always a kid
with an oil and water display? He'd plop some oil into the water, but instead
of dissolving, it would float to the top. What that kid didn't know is that oil and
water actually can be mixed, with a little help from heat and agitation.
The emulsification that results in ganache combines the fat in
chocolate (cocoa butter) with the water in cream. To accomplish this, you
must first liquefy the fat. Hot cream is combined with the chocolate, melting
the fat into liquid form. Stirring breaks down the fat into microscopic droplets,
small enough to be suspended within the water. Whipping and heavy cream
may be used interchangeably to make ganache. They differ in the amount of
butterfat they contain. As a general rule, the higher the fat content of the
cream, the richer the finished ganache will be.
Temperature is an important factor in the emulsification of ganache. If the
temperature is not controlled carefully, the result will not be smooth. The
optimal emulsification temperature for ganache is 90° to 110°F. If the
temperature rises above 110°F, the cocoa butter gets too hot. Droplets of fat
will pool together and rise to the surface, separating from the mixture. When
this occurs, the ganache is referred to as "broken."
Ganache can also be lumpy if the chocolate is not chopped into
very fine pieces before being combined with the hot cream. If the chocolate
pieces are larger than 1/4 inch, they will not melt completely and the
resulting ganache will have lumps. Lumpy ganache can be repaired by being
reheated. Reheating, however, can easily cause the fat to overheat, pool
together, and break the ganache.
After the cream is poured over the chocolate to melt the cocoa
butter, the mixture is set aside to warm undisturbed for a minute and then
stirred in a slow, circular motion. Steady agitation is essential in reducing the
fat to tiny droplets. Care must be taken to resist excessive beating, which
can bring the temperature of the fat below 90°F too quickly, producing
ganache with a grainy texture.
REPAIRING A BROKEN OR GRAINY GANACHE
If your ganache looks broken or feels grainy, there is still hope for it. To repair
a broken ganache, divide it in half. Warm one half over a double boiler to a
temperature of 130°F. The fat will melt and pool at this temperature, making
the mixture thinner. Cool the remaining ganache to 60°F by stirring it over a
bowl of ice. The fat in this portion will begin to solidify, causing the ganache
When both halves have reached the desired temperatures, slowly
stream the hot ganache into the cold and stir to combine. You can use a
food processor for this step by placing the cool ganache into the bowl of the
food processor, turning on the machine, and streaming in the warm ganache.
The mixture will not fall below 90°F during this procedure, so there is no risk
of creating a grainy texture. Combining the two portions of ganache in this
way averages the temperature into the optimal working range, and the fat
droplets will be suspended evenly in the water.
The most common chocolate used for ganache is dark chocolate. Dark refers
to the color and includes sweet, semisweet, bittersweet, and unsweetened
chocolates. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans that have been roasted and
pulverized. The result is chocolate liquor, also known as cocoa mass.
As the beans are ground, they exude cocoa butter. Different
amounts of cocoa butter are added back into the mixture, depending on
which type of chocolate is being made. Dark chocolate contains less cocoa
butter than milk chocolate. White chocolate is comprised of nearly all cocoa
butter and no chocolate liquor. (Due to the lack of chocolate liquor, white
chocolate is not technically chocolate. However, it can be used in the same
manner as types containing chocolate liquor, with certain modifications.)
Chocolates also differ in the amount of sugar they contain.
Bittersweet has less sugar than semisweet. Unsweetened chocolate has no
added sugar, and I often used it in conjunction with bittersweet for an extra
dark, intense flavor.
Milk solids, which contain milk fat, are used to make milk and
white chocolate. The added fat and the increased cocoa butter content make
the lighter chocolates softer and more susceptible to damage from heat. You
can certainly make ganache from milk or white chocolate, using the
traditional technique, but you'll have to adjust the proportion of cream
downward to compensate for the increased fat content.
All the recipes in this chapter begin with the same ingredients and
techniques. The Master Ganache is made with an equal ratio of chocolate to
cream. This is considered a ganache of medium consistency. Recipes
categorized as firm are made with more than 50 percent chocolate. Soft
ganaches have more than 50 percent cream. The recipes are not mysterious,
nor are they difficult. If, however, you want to impress your sister, keep this
information to yourself.
Ganache Family Tree
1 part chocolate : 1 part cream
Milk Chocolate Ganache
White Chocolate Ganache
Frozen Chocolate Parfait
2 parts chocolate : 1 part cream
John Do Ya Ganache
Baked Whiskey Tortes
1 part chocolate : 2 or more parts cream
Chocolate Whipped Cream
Campton Place Hot Chocolate
Chocolate Mousse Trio
Deep, Dark Chocolate Tart
MEDIUM-TEXTURED GANACHE is the MASTER GANACHE, and all the
recipes that are derived from it begin with a 1 : 1 ratio of chocolate to cream.
(Adjustments have been made to the Milk and White Chocolate Ganache
recipes to achieve a medium texture.)
FIRM-TEXTURED GANACHE is made with 2 : 1 ratio of chocolate to cream
and is suitable for icings, fillings, and baking.
SOFT-TEXTURED GANACHE uses a 1 : 2 ratio of chocolate to cream or
even more cream.
All the recipes are related to the Master Ganache. They all begin with the
same ingredients and techniques. Note that the ratio is based on weight, not
yield: 2 cups
Can deep, dark, intense, rich, velvety smooth chocolate be a spiritual
experience? It certainly is heavenly when mixed with cream. Praise the
pastry angels and pass the bonbons!
This is the basic ganache recipe. Use it for truffles, tarts,
fillings . . . you name it. Follow the same technique when adjusting the recipe
for firm and soft ganache. An alternative food processor method is given,
which can be applied to any ganache recipe in this chapter.
I want to introduce you to ganache and persuade you to make it a
staple in your refrigerator. As long as you don't eat it all as a midnight snack,
it can be available to help you throw together dessert at a moment's notice.
Food processor (optional)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1. Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces.
Don't be lazy here. Big chunks will not melt.
2. Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil
in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boiling means the cream will actually
rise up in the pan and threaten to boil over.
3. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate. Tap the
bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream, then let it sit for 1
minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir in a circular motion, starting from
the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add too
much air to the ganache. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2
minutes. It may look done after 1 minute of stirring, but keep going to be sure
FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD
2. Place the chopped chocolate in a food processor fitted with the steel
blade. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat (or
bring to a boil in the microwave).
3. Immediately pour the hot cream into the food processor, on top of the
chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then pulse the machine three times. Scrape
down the sides with a rubber spatula and pulse three more times, until all the
chocolate is melted. This smooth, silky chocolate is now ganache. Transfer
the ganache to a bowl.
4. Let the ganache sit at room temperature until it cools to 70°F. In a 65°F
room, this will take only 15 minutes. You can speed up the process by
pouring the ganache out onto a clean baking sheet (thinner layers cool
faster). Once the ganache reaches 70°F, it is ready to be used. At this point
it can also be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
NOTE I prefer using a serrated knife for chopping chocolate. It's safer
because the blade doesn't slip off the hard surface of the chocolate. And I
find that it's easier to get small chunks.
* Tangy Ganache: Replace all or part of the cream with crème fraîche.
* Earl Grey Ganache: Place 1 bag of Earl Grey tea in the cream and bring it
to a boil. Cover and let it steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bag and
squeeze over the cream. Rewarm the tea-infused cream and continue with
* Lavender Ganache: Place 1 to 2 tablespoons lavender flowers in the cream
and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let it steep for 10
minutes. Strain and rewarm the lavender-infused cream, then continue with
* Orange Ganache: Add 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest to the cream
and bring to a boil; strain into the chocolate. When the ganache is complete,
add 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier.
yield: About 2 dozen 1-inch truffles
The original chocolate truffle was a French confection meant to simulate the
much-sought-after truffle fungus. It was rolled rough like the real fungus, not
round, and covered in cocoa powder to replicate the dirt it grows in. (Whose
idea was it to make people think they were eating dirt?) Chocolate truffles are
a rich, decadent treat with a special elegance all their own. Don't be
intimidated! Truffles are easy to make and always appreciated.
The choice of alcohol to use is yours. It can be a liqueur, such as
Chambord or Grand Marnier, or another spirit like bourbon or rum. The
alcohol can also be left out entirely. Substitutions for it could include brewed
coffee, orange juice, or fruit puree.
Piping bag with a large (#6) plain tip (optional)
1 recipe Master Ganache (page 16), with the addition of:
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons liquor, such as Grand Marnier, kirsch, bourbon, or rum
FOR THE COATING
2 cups sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1. Follow the method for Master Ganache, adding the butter to the chocolate
and the corn syrup to the cream before bringing the cream to a boil.
2. Pour the hot cream and corn syrup over the chopped chocolate and butter.
Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream, then let it
sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, stir slowly in a circular motion,
starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Be careful
not to add too much air to the ganache. Stir until the chocolate is completely
melted, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the liquor and stir to combine. Allow the ganache to cool at room
temperature until it is firm. This should take at least 4 hours in a 65°F room
or 2 hours in the refrigerator.
4. Once the ganache is firm, it can be formed into truffle balls. Using a piping
bag, a mini ice cream scoop, or a tablespoon, make 1-inch-diameter blobs.
Then roll the blobs into somewhat uniform balls by hand. This is messy, no
doubt about it. If they begin to warm up and become soft, refrigerate for 10 to
15 minutes. If you have hot hands or it is a hot day, it may feel as though you
can't get a grip on the truffle. Work near a sink with cold running water. When
the ganache feels like it's melting, cool your hands under the running water,
then dry them and dust with a little of the cocoa powder. Be careful not to get
too much cocoa powder on the truffles, or they will taste like cocoa powder.
After the truffles are rolled, they can be finished in a variety of ways. The
original cocoa powder coating is the easiest, and quite good.
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4 inch pieces and
place it in a medium heatproof bowl. Fill a medium saucepan half full of
water, bring it to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Create a double boiler by
placing the bowl on top of the saucepan. Stir the chocolate occasionally with
a rubber spatula until it melts, about 2minutes.
3. When the chocolate has melted, take it off the heat. Stir it slowly with a
rubber spatula until the temperature drops to 90°F, about 5 minutes. Place
the remaining cocoa powder in a small bowl.
4. Drop one rolled ganache ball into the melted chocolate. Remove it with a
fork, tap off the excess chocolate, and toss it into the cocoa powder. Roll the
truffle around in the cocoa until it is well coated. Transfer the truffle to the
prepared baking sheet and let it harden. Repeat with each truffle, coating one
at a time.
Truffles should be stored in an airtight container at 60° to 65°F. Refrigerating
them is OK too. If condensation forms when they come out of the refrigerator,
simply toss them in more cocoa powder before serving.
* Other delightful coatings include finely chopped toasted nuts (see page
366), toasted unsweetened coconut, grated milk chocolate, and powdered
sugar. Match the coating of the truffles to the liquor used in the ganache,
such as Frangelico truffles with hazelnut crunch coating. This will create an
interesting depth of flavor.
* Steep 1 black currant tea bag in the cream and add 2 tablespoons
Chambord as the liquor.
* Add 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder to the cream and use 2
tablespoons Kahlúa as the liquor.
* Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped orange zest and 1/2 teaspoon orange oil
to the cream. Let sit for 10 minutes. Strain out the zest. Use 2 tablespoons
Grand Marnier as the liquor.
* Add 2 tablespoons strained blackberry puree (or the puree of another fruit)
instead of the liquor.
* Peel and grate fresh ginger and squeeze from it 2 tablespoons ginger juice.
Add this and 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice instead of the liquor.
* Combine 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup Champagne or brandy in a small
saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn off the heat and let the
raisins cool and absorb the liquor. Drain off any remaining liquid, chop the
raisins, and stir the raisins into the warm ganache.
yield: 1 2/3 cups, serving 6
Fondue is back! This will be good news to those of you who didn't get your fill
in the 1970s. Traditional fondue is melted cheese into which you dip hunks of
bread. My chocolatey version is perfect for dipping pieces of fruit, cubes of
cake, or cookies. Though it's really no more than a glorified chocolate sauce,
fondue is a great excuse to cover everything in chocolate.
This dish always appears on my Valentine's Day menu. It's a
great way to get a romantic conversation going. If you don't have an old
fondue set in the garage, any dish will do. No skewers? Go ahead and use
Fondue pot or serving dish
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped orange zest
NOTE Some of my favorite fruits to dip include:
Crisp fresh apple wedges
Dehydrated apple chips
Juicy pear wedges
Dried cherries: Combine 1/4 cup dried cherries, 1/4 cup port, and 1/4
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil,
then turn off the heat. Cool and let the cherries absorb the liquor. Spear them
Raisins: Combine 1/4 cup raisins with 1/4 cup verjuice or white wine and 1
teaspoon fresh lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off
the heat and let the raisins cool. Spear them with skewers.
1. Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces and
place it in a medium heatproof bowl.
2. Bring the milks to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour over
the chopped chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate
into the cream, then let it sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir
in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl and working out to
the sides. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.
3. When the chocolate has melted, insert a thermometer. When the
temperature reaches 98°F, add the orange zest and stir to incorporate. Serve
the fondue immediately or let it cool, cover it with plastic wrap, and store it at
room temperature overnight. To reheat, place a bowl of fondue over a
saucepan half full of simmering water, creating a double boiler, and stir
continuously until melted, about 5 minutes. Do not let the temperature
exceed 100°F when reheating, or the ganache can break. The fondue will
also keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
* Infuse the milk with your favorite spice, then strain. My favorite combination
is a star anise pod, a 2-inch cinnamon stick, and 1/4 teaspoon ground
* Spike the milk with 2 tablespoons rum, Grand Marnier, or Poire William.
Copyright © 2003 by Sherry Yard. Reprinted by permission of Houghton
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