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My foray into beer ganache


Susanne Hindle Kher
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I live in a household of beer snobs - craft beer snobs to be precise. So there's been some pressure here for me to create beer chocolates. I completed experiment #1 yesterday and want to share for feedback and / or thoughts. 

 

I based my ganache recipe off how you'd do a fruit puree-based ganache. However, instead of adding a fruit puree, I created a "liquid" beer gel from a liquid port gel recipe I found on a molecular cooking site. Simply, this combined beer and agar agar. The gel was cooled and then pureed with an immersion blender. I had to add about twice as much beer as the recipe called for because upon pureeing, the gel broke into teensy tiny little balls of gelified beer. Not good. I had to heat/reheat and keep blending and adding beer until I got a more or less pudding like beer gel. Not terribly scientific, but the beer retained most of its flavor (I used a Founders barrel aged ale - so very strong and flavorul beer to start with). 

 

I added the beer gel to a ganache that had cream and butter and a 38% milk chocolate base. The ganache recipe I was working from also calle for glucose and invert sugar, which I'd rather leave out if using milk chocolate because the gananche turned out too sweet IMO. However, it has a nice beer flavor and is smooth. I think the beer flavor should be stronger. Next version I'll either omit or reduce the sugar and/or use a 58%ish chocolate base. Maybe also add more of the beer gel (then add more butter?).

 

I have another experiment I'll be working on as well this weekend, and it will involve actually infusing the cream with the ingredients we'd normally use to brew a stout (chocolate malt, roasted barley, hops, etc.). It may end up tasting like a delicious bread truffle, since I can't ferment the ganache! :-)

 

Would love to hear others' experiences or ideas. Cheers!

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My next door neighbour's son is starting a craft beer company in South Carolina. They intend to grow their own hops, etc. and are working on their own beer 'recipe'. In time they hope to open their own 'pub' where they will sell food as well - all made with beer I gather. As a result, my neighbour has been experimenting with adding various beers to a variety of dishes, including sweets/chocolates.

 

Thank you for your very interesting post. I shall pass on this idea to her if you don't mind. I am trying to encourage her to join this forum - and if I am successful, perhaps she will be able to contribute more on this subject than I can.  I am fascinated by what you are doing but currently can't be terrifically helpful on this subject, sad to say.

 

And welcome to eGullet. This is a wonderful place for sharing results, ideas and solutions to culinary problems. I am sure you will find others here who like to have fun with beer (other than by just drinking it).

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I'd start with a basic cream ganache - replace the cream with 65% of the volume beer and 35% neutral oil.  So if your ganache contained 125 grams of cream - replace with 125x0.65=81 grams beer and 44 grams of oil.  

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My next door neighbour's son is starting a craft beer company in South Carolina. They intend to grow their own hops, etc. and are working on their own beer 'recipe'. In time they hope to open their own 'pub' where they will sell food as well - all made with beer I gather. As a result, my neighbour has been experimenting with adding various beers to a variety of dishes, including sweets/chocolates.

 

Thank you for your very interesting post. I shall pass on this idea to her if you don't mind. I am trying to encourage her to join this forum - and if I am successful, perhaps she will be able to contribute more on this subject than I can.

Best of luck to your neighbor and thanks for your support!

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I'd start with a basic cream ganache - replace the cream with 65% of the volume beer and 35% neutral oil.  So if your ganache contained 125 grams of cream - replace with 125x0.65=81 grams beer and 44 grams of oil.

Hmmmm, I hadnt considered eliminating the cream in order to add the beer straight up. Do you mind elaborating on what you mean by neutral oil? Thank you.

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My husband is part-owner of an artisan micro-brewery, so obviously, beer ganache has been worked on...

 

I find that it is very difficult to get a good flavour with the actual beer (too much water). Instead, I've worked with the various components, using spray dried malt and dry hops for infusion, similar to your approach. The spray dried malt makes it easier to work on the ratios. Also, I find that the combination of the bitterness of hops and chocolate is a flavour-challenge.

 

I'm interested in how you get on with this, so keep us posted 

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Hmmmm, I hadnt considered eliminating the cream in order to add the beer straight up. Do you mind elaborating on what you mean by neutral oil? Thank you.

Neutral oils would be something like sunflower, grape seed etc - that have little flavour of their own to contribute.  

 

Mette's suggestion of adding some spray dried malt as well to boost the flavour would help - when I'm going for a fruit flavoured ganache I like to add other sources of flavour as well to boost (so puree, freeze dried fruit powder and compound flavouring).  So you could start with a water ganache using beer as above, add the spray dried malt and use malt syrup in place of the glucose in the piece.  

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Beer-flavored ganache somehow doesn't sound right (so, surprise me!), but for some reason a beer flavored jelly or cream inside a chocolate shell sounds like it could work.  Particularly with some of the dark beers/ales/stouts that have a sort of deep rumbly caramel flavor anyway.  It would have to be a very dark chocolate, almost not sweet.  And maybe a crystal or two of salt on top, or some shards of salted brittle? 

 

Sorry for the tangent but it struck me. 

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  This post got my attention, because I did this not too long ago.  When we were nearing Father's Day, I worked on a slabbed ganche, dark chocolate (72%) with Guinness Extra Stout.  I kid you not, it only took 4-5 TBS of the beer to make itself stand out against the chocolate. And, I even tested it on a few folks. The first fellow picked it out right away- even named the exact beer. That told me, it was strong enough.  I hand dipped them in the 72%, and garnished them with caramelized crushed pretzels and beer nuts. The candy shop nicknamed it "The Bartender's Truffle". With beer, pretzels and beer nuts. I guess that makes sense.

   There are a couple micro-brew co's in our area, and the most local one carries a stronger brew (The Widow-maker), which is comparable to the Guinness. So, that will be my next venture, but using the same formula as the Guinness. I did one using an amber ale with milk chocolate. The brew had caramel undertones, so it worked well with the milk chocolate. I wasn't crazy about- but everyone else enjoyed it. 

  If you can get ahold of the "mixologist" at the brewery, they can give you some ideas as to which ones they believe will work better, due to certain undertones, --and they will certainly tell you which ones to stay the heck away from. Some companies- are willing to collaborate, and offer to make up a special brew for you.

 

Off topic a little, but if you have caramel lovers nearby, you can do a reduction using the beer, and add that in near the end of the caramel process. (You could even do reduction for the truffles, I'd imagine.)  I make confections for a local candy/upscale liquor shop, and one day, they handed me two bottles of Ichabod Pumpkin ale, while asking me "Can you turn this into caramel?"  So, I did.  It wasn't super-firm, so I ended up using it as a filling in for the milk chocolate caramels. But, wow...the pumpkin and nutmeg were quite noticeable at the finish.  I reduced 8 oz down to 3 Tablespoons for the caramel formula. 

 

HTH....Andrea

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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My husband is part-owner of an artisan micro-brewery, so obviously, beer ganache has been worked on...

 

I find that it is very difficult to get a good flavour with the actual beer (too much water). Instead, I've worked with the various components, using spray dried malt and dry hops for infusion, similar to your approach. The spray dried malt makes it easier to work on the ratios. Also, I find that the combination of the bitterness of hops and chocolate is a flavour-challenge.

 

I'm interested in how you get on with this, so keep us posted 

That's pretty awesme that you've got your very own brewmaster!!!  I agree, the whole chocolate and beer combination is challenging. I am finding that sweeter, less hopped fruit beers are better suited. Otherwise it's more a novelty that you've got beer in the ganache (since the taste needs to be mild to be palatable). 

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  This post got my attention, because I did this not too long ago.  When we were nearing Father's Day, I worked on a slabbed ganche, dark chocolate (72%) with Guinness Extra Stout.  I kid you not, it only took 4-5 TBS of the beer to make itself stand out against the chocolate. And, I even tested it on a few folks. The first fellow picked it out right away- even named the exact beer. That told me, it was strong enough.  I hand dipped them in the 72%, and garnished them with caramelized crushed pretzels and beer nuts. The candy shop nicknamed it "The Bartender's Truffle". With beer, pretzels and beer nuts. I guess that makes sense.

   There are a couple micro-brew co's in our area, and the most local one carries a stronger brew (The Widow-maker), which is comparable to the Guinness. So, that will be my next venture, but using the same formula as the Guinness. I did one using an amber ale with milk chocolate. The brew had caramel undertones, so it worked well with the milk chocolate. I wasn't crazy about- but everyone else enjoyed it. 

  If you can get ahold of the "mixologist" at the brewery, they can give you some ideas as to which ones they believe will work better, due to certain undertones, --and they will certainly tell you which ones to stay the heck away from. Some companies- are willing to collaborate, and offer to make up a special brew for you.

 

Off topic a little, but if you have caramel lovers nearby, you can do a reduction using the beer, and add that in near the end of the caramel process. (You could even do reduction for the truffles, I'd imagine.)  I make confections for a local candy/upscale liquor shop, and one day, they handed me two bottles of Ichabod Pumpkin ale, while asking me "Can you turn this into caramel?"  So, I did.  It wasn't super-firm, so I ended up using it as a filling in for the milk chocolate caramels. But, wow...the pumpkin and nutmeg were quite noticeable at the finish.  I reduced 8 oz down to 3 Tablespoons for the caramel formula. 

 

HTH....Andrea

Wow, that's interesting. I have seen beer caramels, but that could be expensive to reduce down already expensive craft beers by 90%!! Sounds like yours were a hit!

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Beer-flavored ganache somehow doesn't sound right (so, surprise me!), but for some reason a beer flavored jelly or cream inside a chocolate shell sounds like it could work.  Particularly with some of the dark beers/ales/stouts that have a sort of deep rumbly caramel flavor anyway.  It would have to be a very dark chocolate, almost not sweet.  And maybe a crystal or two of salt on top, or some shards of salted brittle? 

 

Sorry for the tangent but it struck me. 

Great suggestions. Thanks.

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