Saturday, April 7, 2012

All About Ganache

NOTE: If you're not interested in reading boring details about chocolate, just ignore this long winded post. It's pretty much a summary for my own reference, and maybe for anyone else looking for info about chocolate:

I've just spent the last week or so on a search - the search for perfect ganache!!!
Or at least a ganache that works for me, using ingredients I can find locally.

To do this, it wasn't just enough to find another recipe and try it, I wanted to know the basics; why do we have to mix it with cream instead of just melting it? What are the differences between cocoa amounts? Why does it have to have 53% cocoa? Why do I have to boil the cream first? Lots of boring questions.

The search began for a chocolate with a high enough cocoa content. 53% or more. And I found the perfect stuff at my local Farm Boy:

I had never heard of this brand before, so I ended up looking up Callebaut online, and what do you know, they have a whole website chock full of information about chocolate. Even troubleshooting videos! Sweet! They also have a chocolate school in Quebec, which sounds pretty awesome (I'm sure the courses are all in french though :P).

I also found out later that some Bulk Barns sell Callebaut chocolate in button form. But make sure it's clearly Callebaut chocolate with over 53% cocoa, cause it's easy to mix it up with all the other cheap chocolate they have. And the cheap chocolate will NOT work (I know this from experience :P).

Ok so now I have the chocolate, what to do with it? I heard somewhere that Australia has cornered the market on using ganache under fondant instead of buttercream, so I found a video by Michelle Cake Designs, explaining her process. In Australia they also use a different ratio of cream to chocolate, 2:1, so whatever amount of cream you're using, use double the amount of chocolate. A lot of other recipes use 50/50 and I think the ratio I learned in London was a little more chocolate than that, but I've also heard, their cream has a higher fat content, so maybe that's why theirs solidified a lot easier.

So next I experienced something I've never experienced before: Fat bloom. Part of the method in the video was to melt the chocolate and cream together in the microwave, as opposed to boiling the cream first and chocolate separately and then mixing them. This was the result:

It's called fat bloom, and it's not nice.
See, mixing chocolate and cream is like mixing oil and water together, and if you don't agitate it enough, things start to separate. In this case, the fat rose to the top!
I even tried to save this chocolate, by reheating half of it, and cooling half and mixing it back together. Nothing worked. So I'm sticking to the boiling cream method. This is what proper chocolate should look like:

Yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about.

Hey! I just so happened to have a lemon cake ready to cover with ganache! And I can't emphasize enough, the most important part if you want a nice, cylindrical cake is to have a solid structure underneath! I think this is the part that will take me the rest of my life to learn, lol.

It's kind of like building an house. A chocolate house. Mmmm...

I would one day like to do this smooth enough that it can look good without covering in fondant, or maybe just another layer of poured ganache. But for now, I covered it in a thin layer of chocolate fondant.

Aaaand then went crazy...

Experiment DONE!

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