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Ganache: Tips, Techniques & Troubleshooting

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When I add butter to a ganache, I do not melt it. I start with the chocolate and cream, get those in an emulsion and then add the room temperature/softened butter and stir it in.

I tend to mix by hand, starting in the center and working my way out (as Ruth described up thread). If the hand mixing is not working, I may bring out the stick blender. Also, if it won't emulsify, I will slowly add a liquid (something that works with the flavor of the ganache) that contains little or no fat (a similar process to fixing a broken mayonnaise).

What happens if you try cutting down the cream in your recipe?

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It also broke when I used a 2:1 chocolate to cream ratio... that's why I initially thought there was to much fat in the recipe because the cream vs chocolate proportion doesn't seem to matter.

 

Yes, I also don't melt the butter before adding to the ganache but I thought you have to melt cocoa butter first, right?

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As I said before, every recipe I have seen that calls for added cocoa butter says to melt it separately and add it after the cream+chocolate emulsion has been formed.  Actually most of the recipes that do have added cocoa butter are ones that are fruit-flavored and use white chocolate.  I have always assumed the reason was that the cocoa butter gives more "body" to the ganache without adding more chocolate so as to let the fruit flavor shine through.  You could try leaving it out of your recipe and increase the amount of chocolate accordingly.

 

Another idea:  Grainy ganache can result from having the liquid significantly cooler than the chocolate (so that the latter does not get melted properly).  I have just about given up on the "pour hot liquid over solid chocolate and stir like mad" method, and instead I melt the chocolate (at least partially) and get it and the liquid at more or less the same temp before mixing them, but you don't want the liquid cooler.  Even so, I would think that heating up the ganache gently would take care of the graininess.  I would also get a properly sized container and make enough ganache so that an immersion blender can be used successfully.  It is your friend.

 

Just some thoughts on the mysteries of ganache.

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Can you try without the additional cocoa butter? Here's the proportions I use for dark chocolate truffle - 

 

 

  • 150 grams whipping cream
  • 40 grams glucose
  • 350 grams dark chocolate
  • 65 grams butter - room temperature
  • 45 grams liquor of some sort
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Which one?

Sorry, I was confused. I saw the reference to my formula and thought she was talking about the recipe itself. I read back and saw that wasn't my recipe, just the technique. So...never mind. The formula is similar to one of the recipes from JMA when I did the Pastry Championship class.


Edited by gfron1 (log)

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When I add butter to a ganache, I do not melt it. I start with the chocolate and cream, get those in an emulsion and then add the room temperature/softened butter and stir it in.

I tend to mix by hand, starting in the center and working my way out (as Ruth described up thread). If the hand mixing is not working, I may bring out the stick blender. Also, if it won't emulsify, I will slowly add a liquid (something that works with the flavor of the ganache) that contains little or no fat (a similar process to fixing a broken mayonnaise).

What happens if you try cutting down the cream in your recipe?

 

For me I stopped adding butter to my recipes because I was adding it in it's solid room temp form at the end and inevitably it would break my ganache.  I've been discussing this with Chocolot this weekend and she adds the butter to her cream, doesn't affect the mouthfeel by adding the butter to the cream and melting it, so I might try adding butter back to my recipes.  

 

As for adding cocoa butter, have you thought about using mycryo instead of melting cocoa butter or trying to add cocoa butter chips to the ganache?  And at what temp are you adding it to the ganache?  It might be breaking because it's too cold when you add it? 

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Hi all, I'm a long time lurker on these forums and have learned a lot from reading the discussions.

 

I'm in the process of converting my chocolate making hobby into a little business, and have been adapting my ganache recipes to give them a better shelf life for both myself and my customers. Having read the Wybauw book on shelf life and the various topics on the eG forums, I've been adapting my recipes to reduce the water content and increase the sugars, but this has resulted in real problems with viscosity, particularly with dark chocolate ganaches. I'm using melted and tempered chocolate with the liquids at around 35C, the resulting ganaches are beautifully smooth and shiny, but the texture is more like mayonaise when at piping temperature of 29C-31C. This would be fine for framing, but I make 90% moulded bonbons, and the ganaches are so thick that no amount of vibrating the mould will level it out, so I get peaks which need flattening and thick bases at the edges due to the doming of the ganache. Not ideal!

 

I'm hoping the more experienced chocolatiers can advise on how to make ganaches more fluid at piping temperature, without just adding a load more liquid that would mess up the shelf life.

 

Thanks,

Sarah

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How much shelf life are you after? What is your current shelf life? It may be that you need to educate your customers that your chocolates won't last as long as something they buy in the supermarket... "Preservative free!" or something like that ;) I usually label mine with four weeks from production date, but obviously products that have fresh fruit or high water content materials will be shorter, whereas things like jellies (high sugar) and pralines (little to no water) will be much longer.

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Hi, thanks for the reply, your chocolates look gorgeous!

 

I'd love to put 3 weeks on everything but sadly I don't have the turnover to make that practical. I was hoping to get 6 weeks, which is what a couple of local delis have told me would be the minimum for them to consider stocking my chocolates. I do make pralines and caramels that will last longer than that, but my customers say they can get those anywhere and really seem to want dark ganaches. My go-to ganache recipes are all high in cream so only last 2-3 weeks in good condition. A rough example would be around 500g couverture at 70% cocoa solids, 435g 35% cream, 50g invert sugar, 50g butter (based off a William Curley recipe). That recipe is just about pipeable but with a reasonably high water content, and some couvertures need even more cream to thin them out! If I try to lower the water and increase the sugars to extend shelf life it just gets even thicker!

 

I'm trying to avoid preservatives and alcohols, but can't figure out how to make the ganache more fluid without adding liquid :( 

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Your dilemma is familiar to all who make molded chocolates--texture of the ganache vs. shelf life.  You already have the chocolate-to-liquid ratio at roughly 1:1, and if you increase the liquid above that, you risk having the finished ganache too liquid to set up properly.  You are already piping the ganache at a relatively high temperature (Peter Greweling says 77F/25C, Notter gives a higher temperature).  I pipe at around 80F/27C in case the temperature is actually higher than the thermometer reading since I don't want to risk melting the shell.  As I am concerned about shelf life, I just accept the fact that some ganaches are going to be impossible to pipe perfectly.  If the ganache levels off after a few taps on the counter, I consider it a good day, but I am prepared to trim the extruding parts with a small knife or tiny spoon (usually this is easier to do after the ganache has crystallized).

 

Have you tried butter ganaches?  They have what I consider a wonderful texture and have a much longer shelf life.  If you have a water activity meter, you can check the Aw reading for a ganache, or if you use Wybauw's recipes, he provides the reading.  A reading above 0.85 is considered dangerous, but most ganaches are below that reading (or can be reformulated to be so).

 

All that said, I think your potential resellers are being unreasonable--6 weeks is too long.  I would see if there are resellers in your area who are more knowledgeable about handmade chocolates with high-quality ingredients.  Just recently, as a matter of fact, I have tasted handmade chocolates from two sources in my area and found them stale tasting (not spoiled or molded, but stale).  If I were to sell my chocolates to a vendor I would have an agreement/contract with the shop that would try to prevent that situation since your reputation will kill you--if it's bad.

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Hi Jim, glad to hear I'm not the only one with this issue (I've been using a small spoon to scrape my peaks off too!).

 

I've done a few butter ganaches, mainly just testing the ones in the Greweling book, but I find them a little sickly compared to a cream ganache. It's the eternal struggle between not wanting to compromise on your product, but also remembering that you're trying to run a business and need to make things practical. Aw meters are a bit beyond my budget, but I'm hoping that by following the guidelines set out by Wybauw and Morato in terms of ratios that I should be able to make something fairly stable and of a high quality, I just can't get it into the moulds without having to scrape the peaks off. I resorted to using the "slam filling" technique where you overfill and scrape off, but I felt that this weakened the bases and was worried that cracks would lead to spoilage.

 

If you don't mind my asking, what sort of percentages do you aim for in your recipes in terms of water and sugar? Morato suggests <20% water and >30% sugars, but adding that much sugar to a dark ganache does affect the flavour significantly and I'm having difficulty getting the water content as low as 20% without creating a ganache which is almost solid when I pipe it.

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Sarah,

The percentage Greweling recommends for a ganache intended to be piped is 2:1 (chocolate to liquefiers), considerably more liquid than you are currently using, so I am mystified as to why your ganache isn't quite liquid.  Do your ganaches firm up or do they remain soft?  I myself don't mind a soft center for a chocolate, but it's quite difficult (at least for me) to predict how firm a ganache is going to be once it crystallizes.  Often the exact same recipe will turn out differently from time to time.

 

I gather from your previous posts that you are using invert sugar exclusively as your sweetener.  As I am sure you know, it is sweeter-tasting than sucrose and will, to some degree, affect the final taste of the ganache if it's the only sweetener.

 

Your technique of overfilling the cavities and then scraping is not something I would try.  If your chocolate was in perfect temper and the shells are ready to come out of the mold with no effort required, you may discover that the scraping drags the chocolate shell out of the mold when you don't want that.  I find that the ganache needs to be 1/4 to 1/3 inch below the edge of the cavity to have a successful capping of the mold.  This does make trimming the protruding ganache a tedious but essential process.  I have been intending to ask on eGullet whether others have shortcuts for this procedure.  A ganache like Greweling's cherry kirsch inevitably has bits of dried cherries sticking up too high.

 

About butter ganaches:  I know what you mean about their sweetness, but it is possible to use less sweet flavorings.  In the case of Greweling's orange butter ganache, adding a substantial amount of orange zest, for example, helps a lot.

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2 hours ago, Jim D. said:

I gather from your previous posts that you are using invert sugar exclusively as your sweetener.  As I am sure you know, it is sweeter-tasting than sucrose and will, to some degree, affect the final taste of the ganache if it's the only sweetener.

You could try using something like dextrose or trehalose instead of invert. Invert is quoted as a third sweeter than sucrose, iirc.

 

2 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 I find that the ganache needs to be 1/4 to 1/3 inch below the edge of the cavity to have a successful capping of the mold.

This sounds like ... a really large gap. 1/3" is like 8mm. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying - I fill and cap aiming for as thin a base as possible - 1-2mm!

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12 hours ago, Jim D. said:

Sarah,

The percentage Greweling recommends for a ganache intended to be piped is 2:1 (chocolate to liquefiers), considerably more liquid than you are currently using, so I am mystified as to why your ganache isn't quite liquid.  Do your ganaches firm up or do they remain soft?  I myself don't mind a soft center for a chocolate, but it's quite difficult (at least for me) to predict how firm a ganache is going to be once it crystallizes.  Often the exact same recipe will turn out differently from time to time.

 

Bit confused here, did you mean less liquifiers than I'm currently using?

 

My adapted recipes for dark chocolate ganaches all set up quite firm, I don't have as much of a problem with milk or white, it's just the dark ones giving me trouble.

 

12 hours ago, Jim D. said:

I gather from your previous posts that you are using invert sugar exclusively as your sweetener.  As I am sure you know, it is sweeter-tasting than sucrose and will, to some degree, affect the final taste of the ganache if it's the only sweetener.

 

My old recipes with low shelf life just use invert, for the ones where I've tried to extend the shelf life I've used a combination of invert, glucose and dextrose, which I've tried to balance to avoid the negative affects of each sugar while not imparting too much sweetness overall. So far I've avoided sorbitol, I know it's popular and the best thing for lowering water activity, but it always struck me as too close to a preservative, although I suppose if I've got to the point of using dextrose I'm already into "weird sugars" territory and should probably reconsider that stance. I've never come across the trehalose that Keychris mentioned.

 

12 hours ago, Jim D. said:

Your technique of overfilling the cavities and then scraping is not something I would try.  If your chocolate was in perfect temper and the shells are ready to come out of the mold with no effort required, you may discover that the scraping drags the chocolate shell out of the mold when you don't want that.  I find that the ganache needs to be 1/4 to 1/3 inch below the edge of the cavity to have a successful capping of the mold. 

 

I had that exact problem with this technique the first time I tried it! Only works with moulds where the shape of the cavity stops the shell from shifting when you scrape. I try to aim for very thin shells as this is what is considered ideal for high quality handmade chocolates in my area, so a completely flat 1-2mm base would be ideal, but this only seems achievable if you use a ganache which will level itself off perfectly when piped. So far I've not been able to get a dark chocolate ganache to level off like that without adding so much liquid that it won't last more than 10-14 days.

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10 hours ago, keychris said:

This sounds like ... a really large gap. 1/3" is like 8mm. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying - I fill and cap aiming for as thin a base as possible - 1-2mm!

 

Of course, you are correct.  I didn't stop and look at a ruler before I posted.  I also aim for the thinnest possible base (Greweling calls for 2-3mm, between 1/16 and 1/8 inch).

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17 minutes ago, sarah72 said:

Bit confused here, did you mean less liquifiers than I'm currently using?

 

Yes, I did mean less, sorry about that.

 

19 minutes ago, sarah72 said:

So far I've not been able to get a dark chocolate ganache to level off like that without adding so much liquid that it won't last more than 10-14 days.

 

Can you describe what happens to the ganache after 14 days?  I assume it has not molded or spoiled in any way.  Does it have a stale taste?  Or is the texture compromised in some way?

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10 hours ago, Jim D. said:

Can you describe what happens to the ganache after 14 days?  I assume it has not molded or spoiled in any way.  Does it have a stale taste?  Or is the texture compromised in some way?

 

With high cream, low sugar recipes like the one I listed in my previous post, I notice that after 2 weeks the ganache feels firmer presumably due to drying out with there being so much free water in them. After two weeks they start tasting a little less fresh, and if I start going over 3-4 weeks some can start pulling away from the shell inside and start getting moldy. These problems all go away with the recipes I've adapted to have less water and more sugar, but I can't get them in the shells effectively. I'm starting to think the only way I'm going to get around the shelf life issue with dark ganaches is to slab them and dip rather than mould.

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18 minutes ago, sarah72 said:

if I start going over 3-4 weeks some can start pulling away from the shell inside and start getting moldy

 

I think this is just the way things are.  I have never had a ganache show any mold, but I know that it can happen.  The drying out is what I would expect after 4 weeks.  As I said before, I think your potential vendors' requirement of 6 weeks is unrealistic.

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2 minutes ago, Jim D. said:

 

I think your potential vendors' requirement of 6 weeks is unrealistic.

 

I agree!

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Personally, I don't think 6 weeks is unrealistic for a business, but I realise this is a personal thing and everyone will have a different opinion.

 

I think it all comes down to what you're trying to achieve. The Wybauw book on shelf life is a good one. The use of sorbitol (powdered or liquid), glucose (atomised or liquid), dextrose, trimoline (invert sugar), salt, alcohol etc can all extend shelf life and when combined correctly can still yield a pipe-able ganache. The issue I've come across is a tradeoff between taste/flavour and shelf-life. More sugars etc tend to modify the flavour.

 

I think all you can do is experiment with different formulae (Wybauw's books are probably a good place to start because they give aW readings) and test how long the ganache lasts given your ingredients and your production techniques.

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I do not own a vibrating table for leveling ganache in molds but am wondering, in light of the discussion in this thread, how much difference one makes.  I realize that in the case of a very liquid filling, the device would not be needed, but does it manage to level a thicker ganache (more than tapping/banging on the counter)?

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I don't have any answers, but will suggest that the shelf life issue is why there are so many bars and caramels out there!  I worry about what happens when people get the candy home.  If they are used to buying Russel Stover off the drugstore shelf, they might assume that all candy has a long shelf life.  So bonbons may be fine on the retailer's shelf for 4 weeks or even 6, but how do you know the buyer isn't going to stash them in their candy cupboard for another 6 weeks?  Or longer!  I guess you can put pull dates on things, but if the retailer wants 6 weeks of shelf life they'll want at least 8 weeks before the best by date.

 

Jim, I have a small vibrating table that never seems to work very well - maybe it's not big enough or I'm not vibrating long enough?  (It's a small dental lab vibrator.)  Anyway, it had no effect on some thick ganache I was trying to settle recently.  I always end up just pushing the ganache hump down with a gloved finger.

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Dear all wonderfully knowledgeable egulleters,

 

Something strange happened with my molded chocolates. When they were freshly made, the ganache inside was smooth. After a week the inside was grainy. Any ideas why? Any suggestions for how to avoid this? 

 

Thank you all so much!

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