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The perfect ganache by Frederic Bau


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Hi Guys

It is a very long time since I last visited egullet and even longer since I my last post. Fredric Bau of Valrhona has just posted four videos on youtube. Go to youtube and search on 'Valrhona chapter 1' then view chapters 2, 3 and 4. If you are quick you can be the fourth person to view chapter 1 (I was the third!)

Despite this lack of immediate popularity, these videos will give food for thought (and comment).

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Thank you so much for posting this, I found it interesting, informative and very useful.

Although ganache recipes are very simple I've seen a few that include liquid glucose - presumably to control crystalisation. This video series has made we wonder if an invert sugar is unnecessary, and that perhaps they've been added to recipes to try and avoid the problems demonstrated in chapter 4 that are really caused by poor emulsions.

I'm curious to know what ratio of cream:chocolate he was using too...

But thanks again- this has changed the way I'll make ganache from now on.

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I learned:

-why making a ganache by adding the cream bit by bit is superior (friction).

-that it's the protein in the cream and the lecithin in the chocolate that acts as the emulsifier in chocolate.

I now wonder:

-if high speed mixers, as in those found in the industry (not insanely powered chem lab ones), are able to make a ganache of equal quality to that made by this method.

I think the addition of glucose and invert sugar is more about prevention of sugar crystallisation and moisture retention than emulsification although I think invert sugar does help emulsify a little.

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I am not convinced. :hmmm:

If the chef had used the same techniques in his three demos, then I might have been convinced, but the fact that he used the blender stik for only the 'good' way to make a ganache leaves me wondering. What if he had used the blender for the other two methods also? Would they not have also turned into good ganaches?

Someone explain that to me, please.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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It struck me that by adding a little (watery) cream to the (waterless) chocolate, he was determined to keep the oil/fat/organic phase as the continuous one in the emulsion.

However, in his rather short section on chocolate, McGee is adamant that a ganache has the aqueous phase as the continuous one - albeit that it is a syrup made from the chocolate's sugar and the cream's water ...

So I reckon that was what M Bau was talking about when he said that after his second and third additions the ganache 'looked bad - but just wait'. Presumably, he had at that point still got a 'wrong' emulsion, with the organic phase (the fat) as the continuous one, but then, after further cream addition and intense mixing, he successfully 'flipped' the emulsion from organic to aqueous continuous.

But why deliberately start off with the emulsion the wrong way round?

Two reasons I could offer would be to make sure that the very minimum of chocolate gets heated 'excessively' while maximising the extraction of sugar from the chocolate. By using softened chocolate and warm (no way boiling) cream, his ganache always stayed close to 40 degrees C --- though I do wonder how important those factors might be.

What other reasons could there be?

Incidentally, I felt Bau showed no understanding of the limited accuracy of his IR thermometer. It certainly isn't exactly the same as its displayed precision.

And what on earth did he mean by "friction" ? (Molten chocolate is quite lubricious...)

More intense mixing should make a finer-grained, and thus slower-separating emulsion (which is soon going to be 'permanently' stabilised by cooling to 'set' the molten oils and syrup). But 'friction' seems a strange description of intense mixing.

Why "friction"??? Was he scraping his spatula hard against the bowl? Didn't look like it to me.

Was he talking about intense mixing raising the temperature of the mix?

Or what?

Does the use of the stick-blender risk entraining lots of air? (I'd have thought that would be a bad thing.) Was his blender perhaps set to a somewhat slow speed?

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Here are the direct links:

With great respect to M. Bau, I just cannot agree that it's necessary to mix the ganache with 4 or 5 additions of cream to achieve a smooth emulsion. For the failed ganaches, it seems to me that he simply stopped mixing too soon. Had he continued, each would all have ended up virtually identical to the first.

I always add the cream all at once and I always get a smooth ganache. Occasionally, a stick blender can help with a tricky recipe but really I almost never need to use one.

Note 1: Using a stick blender is fine, just be careful not to whip in air (unless you're making icing) as this will decrease shelf life.

Note 2: The addition of glucose, invert sugar, honey, etc. helps to prevent crystallization but also sequesters water making it less available for bacteria to grow thereby extending shelf life.

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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With great respect to M. Bau, I just cannot agree that it's necessary to mix the ganache with 4 or 5 additions of cream to achieve a smooth emulsion. For the failed ganaches, it seems to me that he simply stopped mixing too soon. Had he continued, each would all have ended up virtually identical to the first.

My (inexpert) feelings exactly, and well put. And ditto for the rest of JohnDePaula's well-made points.

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I must admit I feel rather ambivalent about this video. I respect Bau a lot, having read Au coeur des saveurs which I thought was terrific and superbly interesting (indeed, nearly added him to that other active thread about great patissiers). His technical insights were particularly gripping with respect to things it might be easy to take for granted like whipping cream, for instance. This is why I am biased in favour of this ganache clip.

The clip itself, though, is rather odd. In the technical part he explains the principle of emulsifiers in great detail but then does not refer to them for the rest of the clip nor do they form part of his final list of secrets for creating a good ganache. After he'd gone to such length to explain about them I imagined he was going to go on to say the secret to his perfect ganache was to augment the lecithin or something, but this never came and the science was forgotten. Moreover, despite this pseudo-technical approach he never explains the steps he takes. Why should the chocolate by partially melted, for example? (Certainly, we can fill in the gaps, but the point is he does not himself explain and, besides, a whole host of other patissiers will say this step is unnecessary so he does really need to justify it!) Nor does he ever offer a proper scientific explanation for the addition of cream in multiple steps.

I certainly agree with Darienne; in fact, I would defy Bau to identify between three ganaches made in the three ways he shows if all are finished off using the handheld blender and all other factors (ratios, temperature &c.) are the same.

Dougal, I think the friction point is slightly lost in translation because the word is used with a slightly different nuance in French but there is no better way to translate it as succinctly into English. As you say, I think we would sooner say vigorous/intense mixing.

===================================================

I kept a blog during my pâtisserie training in France: Candid Cake

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...

The clip itself, though, is rather odd. In the technical part he explains the principle of emulsifiers in great detail but then does not refer to them for the rest of the clip nor do they form part of his final list of secrets for creating a good ganache. After he'd gone to such length to explain about them I imagined he was going to go on to say the secret to his perfect ganache was to augment the lecithin or something, but this never came and the science was forgotten. Moreover, despite this pseudo-technical approach he never explains the steps he takes. Why should the chocolate by partially melted, for example? (Certainly, we can fill in the gaps, but the point is he does not himself explain and, besides, a whole host of other patissiers will say this step is unnecessary so he does really need to justify it!) Nor does he ever offer a proper scientific explanation for the addition of cream in multiple steps.

... I think the friction point is slightly lost in translation because the word is used with a slightly different nuance in French but there is no better way to translate it as succinctly into English. As you say, I think we would sooner say vigorous/intense mixing.

As a novice student of the mysteries of chocolate, I welcome anyone else helping to 'fill in the gaps". Its far from certain that I could do it for myself!

Friction (the noun) in French means a rub (as well as a disagreement and mechanical friction) and the verb 'frictioner' is given by my large dictionary as 'to rub'. But it didn't strike me that he was particularly rubbing the ganache ... Though he did talk about his specific type of spatula allowing him to impart more energy - which also struck me as slightly strange.

There's a perfectly good French word for 'to stir' (remuer) - but he repeatedly chose frictioner ...

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I imagine between us we can come up with several reasons why the chocolate is better partially melted.

The thing that springs to my mind straight away is that it means less heat will be lost from the cream in melting the chocolate, so the temperature will remain higher longer. As he mentions, keeping the emulsion above 35 degrees is important.

[Re friction, probably best to keep this aside to the primary discussion, are you French/what is your experience with French? In English, I would say for me, an important connotation of friction is two bodies sliding past each other... car tires on roads, ping pong balls on bats and so on. In French, the primary connotation seems to be one of vigorous backwards and forwards agitation (eg rubbing a part of the body vigorously for medicinal or other reasons). That sense of vigorous agitation is rather analagous to what Bau is doing to create his emulsion. In this sense, remuer is not quite right. JMHO.]

===================================================

I kept a blog during my pâtisserie training in France: Candid Cake

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I imagine between us we can come up with several reasons why the chocolate is better partially melted.

The thing that springs to my mind straight away is that it means less heat will be lost from the cream in melting the chocolate, so the temperature will remain higher longer. As he mentions, keeping the emulsion above 35 degrees is important.

...

Right now, I think that its just to make sure that the chocolate is fully melted by his first small addition of hot cream.

Previously, I was thinking he was being careful to prevent overheating the chocolate, but now it seems to me that pre-heating the chocolate is going to be needed merely to get it hot enough to melt! His first ganache temperature reading was only 38C ...

Without all that chocolate being warmed almost to melting, a small amount of hot cream simply isn't going to carry enough heat to fully melt the chocolate!

If you are going to add the cream a little at a time, the chocolate would need to be already near to its melting point.

One follows from the other.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I do wish to say that I have enormous respect for M. Bau. But I think the video simply didn’t do a very convincing job of making his point. Most of us learned to make ganache by pouring ALL of the heated cream over callets and stirring – starting with small ellipses and widening over time as the mixture emulsifies. And that absolutely works. As I said, it seems to me that it didn’t work in the video because he stopped too soon.

Having said that, are there some methods of making ganache that are better than others? Yes, of course. For example, making a tempered ganache is superior in my mind (and on my palette). I think it was Morato and/or Wybauw who first turned me on to tempered ganaches and yes, they are smoother and seem to melt just at the correct temperature. They also produce a product with a longer shelf-life, though I haven’t tested this assertion.

In support of M. Bau’s statements, I found this passage in Ramon Morato’s book, 'Chocolate,' regarding the making of ganache:

During the mixing process, …, it is important to add the liquid part at intervals only, over the (melted) couverture, and thus form an emulsifying nucleus which will provide the product with a brilliant and elastic texture.
Friction is also important, as mechanical work will help us improve the emulsion. It is advisable to use a food processor or mixer, which can work at a higher rhythm and speed at the beginning stage of the emulsion, and finish on low speed to avoid an excessive addition of air.

He also talks about how important it is to work at or above 35ºC in order to ensure that the cocoa butter remains liquid so that a proper emulsion can form.

So, long story short, another very well respected chocolatier agrees with M. Bau. I just wish he’d have said something like the ganache will melt better or be smoother or taste better, etc.

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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On a separate note, I'd just like to nominate the little cocoa pod character for the Jar Jar Binks Award for Animated Excellence in a Documentary. :rolleyes:

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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I just wanted to add that Bau is a fantastic pastry chef, internationally recognised and has published some very well respected books on the subject. If he says something, my first instinct is to listen.

I just wish he’d have said something like the ganache will melt better or be smoother or taste better, etc.

Isn't that what he demonstrates at the end of chapter 4? A correctly made ganache will have much better properties in terms of flexibility/suppleness and emulsion of ingredients once set. By the looks of it, I would guess this translates into better mouthfeel at least (the semi-bad ganache seemed to break and be "stodgy" rather than smooth and supple like the correctly made ganache). And guessing, perhaps also better/easier incorporation with other ingredients if using the ganache in, say, a mousse or creme.

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I was thinking about this some more last night, and concluded that the reason I accepted the demonstration at face value was because the different stages the emulsion goes through as he adds cream in small amounts reminded me of the different stages chocolate goes through when tempering. For a long time I never knew how or why tempering worked, just that it was a process you did, and so as I watched the Valrhona videos I assumed the same could be true when mixing emulsions. After all- a hand mixed hollandaise is generally assumed to be better than one made in a food processor, so why not a hand-mixed ganache better than one made with a blender?

Obviously tempering chocolate works, and it's not too hard to find information on the chemistry behind the process, but when I was younger and I first read about tempering the process sounded bizarre and almost superstitious: heat chocolate to a certain temperature, then cool it, then heat it a bit more - to a teenager this sounded pretty stupid. Of course I was wrong (teenagers usually are) and so I'm more open minded now when I see demonstrations like this one.

Yes, I also wondered why he didn't use the stick blender with the other ganaches, but I was more distracted by the way he was leaning on the hotplate - it's not something you want to make a habit of!

On a separate note, in McGees bible he notes that it's a slight myth that chocolate can be easily overheated, and that dark chocolate can be heated to 93degrees C (200 degrees F) without problems.

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A little more to ponder on.

A mayonnaise is an emulsion that is aqueous continuous. (McGee) Drops of oil in a water matrix.

It is made by whisking the aqueous ingredients, and adding, little by little, the oil (the organic phase).

This is done in that way in order to keep the emulsion "aqueous continuous".

If too much oil is added too quickly it "splits" -- or as a chemical engineer might say 'the emulsion flips to be organic continuous' -- with drops of water in an oil matrix.

Now, Bau is aiming for a ganache that is an aqueous continuous emulsion -- just like the mayonnaise. (McGee)

But he starts by taking all the oil (fluid cocoa butter) and adding little by little the aqueous (water-containing) cream.

This is the exact opposite of the mayonnaise technique, yet aiming for the same end-product emulsion type - aqueous continuous.

No wonder his emulsion initially looks to have 'split' - it has! It is bound to be organic continuous; there simply isn't enough water for it to be otherwise.

Clearly, it can be retrieved, with enough cream and enough intense mixing to finally 'flip' the emulsion (or un-split it).

But I don't think we yet have much of a clue as to WHY the eminent M. Bau chooses to approach his destination from the opposite direction to that which is 1/ traditional and 2/ scientifically logical (at least from the point of view of forming the correct type of emulsion - which was supposedly the point of his lecture!)

I wonder if perhaps M. Bau might simply be confusing the benefit of the intense mixing (necessary to 'save' his deliberately split ganache) with any benefit coming directly from the making of plural small additions of cream?

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Interesting points. I wonder (and I'm just guessing here) if it is out of convenience. Ie., if you weigh out your cream into the saucepan and chocolate into a bowl and then slowly add the chocolate to the cream, the chocolate will slowly solidify in the bowl, making it hard to scrape it all out and resulting in wastage. Maybe you get to the same result either way, but adding the cream results in an easier process. Just a guess.

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I finally had a chance to watch the videos tonight. Thanks so much for posting the info escry! I found them informative but perplexing. Like most of you, I have no problem creating an emulsion with almost any mixing technique. I've used the hot cream over callets with success - although I prefer Greweling's technique of using tempered chocolate and cream at approx. 40C. Now that I have my Thermomix I just press the button and - poof - beautiful ganache! I have noticed that my emulsions are shinier and smoother with the thermomix than just by hand. I think he has something there about using the mixer at the end to perfect the ganache.

What I found the most informative for me is to keep the temp. above 35C when making ganache. I always aim for 34C or lower as I prefer the texture of a tempered ganache. Bau even prefers that the mixture is at 40C.

Soooooo, if you need to keep temperatures above 35C for a good emulsion - BUT, you want to finish with a tempered ganache - what's the solution?! I mean other than dumping it out on the marble and tabling it (that's just too much effort!). I guess you could keep the chocolate and cream above 35C for the emulsion and then add the butter and invert at the end to reduce the temp. and then use the mixer to help with crystallization.

Food for thought...

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One thing I noticed when he was making the "miracle" ganache is that he did not stir it properly - stirring in small circles from the center, gradually moving out to larger circles. He basically just went at it haphazardly. By stirring correctly you gradually mix the cream into the chocolate. By doing it haphazardly you are attempting to do it all at once. Therefore, mixing from the center out accomplishes the same thing he describes using the 5 additions of liquid...only it is much faster.

I see using a blender to finish off a ganache as something akin to the conching process in making chocolate. During conching the chocolate solids and sugars are further broke down and fully coated with cocoa butter. This creates a better texture and a more refined taste. By using the blender he is basically breaking the components down and getting a more consistent structure.

This can be accomplished by other methods, such as tabling the ganache. Careful tabling can draw out flavors and create a smoother, tempered ganache. The shearing between the marble and the spatula have a similar affect as the mixer. However, too much agitation can cause the ganache to split. I have made ganache with the same chocolate, same ratios, with and without tabling; the tabled ganache has a consistently superior texture and draws out a lot more flavors from the chocolate.

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