A few of you have asked me to write about ‘water ganaches’ and I found this an interesting topic. There is a lot of mystique attributed to water ganaches, people talk about them as if they are somehow ‘special’ and only “super knowledgeable chocolatiers” can make this work and get a shelf life out of them. Well let me get a little bit controversial here: Every ganache is a water ganache! Let me repeat that: Every ganache is a water ganache!
So… what is a ganache?
Whenever I teach, I tend to ask my students: What is a ganache? Typically I will get this response: “Cream and chocolate”. A ganache consisting of cream and chocolate is an example of what could be the foundation of a ganache, but what is cream? If you use a typical UHT cream you have a mixture of approximately 35% milk fat, 1% milk sugars, 2% protein and about 61 – 62% water. So even if you make a ganache using cream, you are adding water. So how can we make a dairy free ganache? a vegan ganache perhaps? very simple: we need to respect the same basic formula to make a ganache as we discussed in my previous post, however now we will have to replace milk fat by other fat sources. These fat sources could be coconut oil, cocoa butter, hazelnut oil, …. you name it. As long as our formula works out the same as the one I mentioned in my article about sugars, the shelf life should be, give or take a few days, the same. Max. water content: 20% -> Remains the same sugars content +/- 30% -> Remains the same Cocoa butter +/- 21% -> Depending on the other fat source, we might have to increase this. Dairy fat +/- 15% -> Fat % remains the same but we will look for an other fat source.
There is a very good reason we add dairy fat (butter) to our ganaches: It enhances mouthfeel and melting pattern. Oils usually don’t have a similar texture and mouthfeel like butter, if we want to use olive oil for example which is liquid at room temperature we will need to compensate with Cocoa butter which is hard at room temperature. This becomes especially important when we want to make chocolates that will need to be cut with a guitar cutter and enrobed. A good example and reference point to create a butter alternative from an oil: Olive oil 375g Cocoa butter 122g So let’s assume we have a recipe that has a total dairy fat content of 50g, we would achieve a very similar (but not the same, just to be clear and honest here!) texture by using 38g olive oil and 12g cocoa butter as a replacement.
What about reducing the fat content?
Of course you can reduce the fat content, but from experience a ganache that really cuts down on total fat content can lose the nice creamy and rich mouthfeel we all love very fast. You could argue that the Cacao taste will come through much powerful in a water ganache with reduced fat content, I agree that is true… however personally I often find the mouthfeel less than optimal. It’s up to you to decide what carries more weight in your creation and how much you are willing to compromise.
Saturated fats, like dairy fat and coconut oil are slightly “anti microbial” meaning they provide a less optimal environment for micro organisms to grow. Replacing dairy fat with mono unsaturated oils like olive oil or poly unsaturated fats like corn oil might have implications on the shelf life. (If you care about your consumer’s health, stay away from poly unsaturated fats and hydrogenated oils!) The best way to find out to what extent is to have your ganaches tested at a lab with a water activity meter as it is impossible to calculate. [/av_textblock]