Secrets of a Great Ganache

Here reader Aaron, an apprentice chocolatier who really has a handle on how to make a suerior ganache, weighs in. All those who aspire to use ganache to make candies like truffles, you’ll want to pay close attention.

If I may submit a few tips on making a ganache. In my opinion, it is actually easier to think of a ganache as an emulsion, rather than as a crystal. While crystallization does play a part in creating the perfect ganache, a proper emulsion plays a far larger part.

The bloom you see on the top of a ganache is like the drops of oil you see floating on an improperly made vinaigrette. Add some mustard, whip it up, and voila, no drops. Ganache contains mainly water and fat so at best, the mix is unstable. Add cocoa solids, lecithin and milk solids and the strangers at the party start talking.

The best weapon employed in creating the perfect ganache? A stick blender. Use the mixer to emulsify at 91.5 degrees Fahrenheit (33C), not below to avoid fat coalescence, and make sure that when mixing, no air is incorporated (blade cavitation is bad news, so keep it immersed). Mix until the ganache is super shiny with no fat smears and it just starts to appreciably thicken.

I have never used clarified butter and I don’t know why recipes call for it. Butter in it’s natural state is the perfect emulsifier (Mcgee wrote about this in some long article about Hollandaise). With clarified butter, one benefits by lowering moisture activity, extending shelf life and and gaining the ability to add the butter with the hot cream. One loses powerful emulsifying agents, fresh taste and a bit of je ne sais quois (I think it’s called melty-ness). The trick is to let the ganache cool to 93 degrees (34C) before adding ROOM TEMP butter and them emulsify. It’s not good if the butter goes in, melts and separates, and then ruins the emulsion.

The ganache should never rise about 93 degrees (34C) so as to not lose the temper in the chocolate. Between 89 degrees and (32C) and 73 (23C), it should not be touched. And then below 73 (23C) it can be molded. Always enrobe above 91.5 (33C). To summarize:

1. Boil cream and sweeteners
2. Infuse flavorings
3. Pour over tempered, room temp chocolate
4. Let sit for 5-10
5. Stir, starting in the center to get an emulsion and then moving outward
6. Add butter when cooled to 93 degrees (34C)
7. Zap with immersion blender until shiny
8. Pipe at this point if desired
9. Don’t touch while cooling (no fridge)
cut at this point

Fabulous stuff. Thanks Aaron! I’ll file this under the permanent ganache tutorial for future reference.

4 thoughts on “Secrets of a Great Ganache”

  1. In the final list of steps, between #2 (infuse) and #3 (dump), should you cool the cream? If so, what temperature should it be when you dump it on to the chocolate? If you’re adding really hot cream to the chocolate, then the comment in the last paragraph (“The ganache should never rise about 93 degrees (34C) so as to not lose the temper in the chocolate”) doesn’t make sense to me – when the hot cream melts the chocolate, won’t the temper (specific crystallization) be lost?

    Crazy question for those of us with sous vide set ups: Would it be useful to combine cooled cream and the chocolate in a container in a temperature controlled bath at, say, 92F, and hold it at that temp while emulsifying the butter?

    1. Hi Tom!

      For reader Aaron’s ganache, you just want to pour the hot cream right over the chocolate. You’re exactly right that it seems a little counter-intuitive, however the cream will cool rapidly as soon as it hits all that room-temperature chocolate. Certainly, a little of the chocolate on the outside of the pieces will lose their neatly arranged crystal temper, but not so much that it will ruin the preparation. There’s an easier, standard ganache recipe under the Pastry Components menu, just scroll down past Aaron’s advice. Concerning the sous vide method, that’s never actually occurred to me. I honestly don’t think anyone has yet thought to do it. If I were doing it, I’d melt the butter and chocolate together at 91 degrees, then add it to milk that’s about 95, apply the immersion blender, cool and see what I get! Let me know what happens!

  2. I love the sound of adding butter to the ganache but Aaron doesn’t say how much to add.

    Also he says “boil cream and sweeteners” is he referring to corn syrup? It’s sweeteners, plural so which ones? What? Who? How? Help!

    1. Hey Laura!

      That’s a great point. Aaron never really supplied a recipe did he? I’ll write him and see if he can supply a few details.

      – Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *