The Science Behind Chocolate Ganache

Ganaches are absolutely delicious and perfect to use in a wide variety of desserts. Understanding both the science and the ingredients ratios can greatly help you make your own ganache recipe. Learn the science behind ganache and set yourself up for success.

piping ganache on the shell of a macaron

What is a ganache?

A ganache is a fat-in-water emulsion, typically made of chocolate and a liquid at a specific ratio. Ganaches are perfect to fill many pastries, including tarts, choux pastry (eclairs, choux puffs), macarons, entremets, and many others. If you are like me, you can just eat it directly with your spoon!

How is a ganache made?

A chocolate ganache is generally simple to do with only a few ingredients. If you want to make a smooth, silky ganache with the perfect texture you need to understand a little bit of the science involved. The process requires heating your liquid, generally heavy cream, to a boil and adding it to the chocolate in small pieces. Then, the two are fully emulsified by doing circular motions. 

chocolate pouring into a metal pan

What are the differences between the types of chocolate?

The main difference between the different chocolates is the amount of cocoa solids. 

Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar, whereas milk chocolate contains anywhere from 10-50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk in some form, and sugar. White chocolate does not contain cocoa solids, but it does have cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids. Emulsifiers like lecithin are commonly added to all three types of chocolates. 

Science behind ganache:

The texture and consistency of a ganache are determined by the ratio of chocolate: heavy cream used. The type of chocolate and liquid will also affect your ganache. 

About fat and ratios:

The most common ratio for a pipeable dark chocolate ganache is 1:1 (chocolate: heavy cream). If you modify either the ratio or the type of liquid, the fat content will be altered. The amount of fat in a ganache is important as it provides structure to the preparation. 

  • A higher ratio like 2:1 (dark chocolate: heavy cream) results in a firmer ganache, commonly used for truffles.
  • The ideal ratio for a pipeable ganache made with either milk or white chocolate is 2.5:1 (chocolate: heavy cream)
  • Heavy cream contains 36-40% fat. If you want to substitute some (or all) of the heavy cream in a recipe for another liquid, like a fruit juice, you should always add the fat back. The easiest way to do this is by adding butter, which contains 80% fat, the double amount compared to heavy cream. Therefore, if you substitute 100g of heavy cream just add 50g of butter.

About Stabilizers:

You can stabilize your ganache by adding inverted sugar, a type of sugar that aids at making a glossy ganache by preventing sugar re-crystallization.

thickened chocolate ganache in a red bowl with a spoon in it

General Ganache Ratios (for a pipeable ganache)

  • 1-part dark chocolate
  • 1-part heavy cream
  • 0.15-part butter
  • Up to 10% invert sugar

Check my other posts for additional recipes

Tips to help you make the perfect ganache:

  • Use only high-quality chocolates. Brands like Callebaut, Valrhona, Cacao Barry and Eleven One are among my favorites. When choosing your chocolate make sure it is a “couverture” one, these have a higher percentage of cocoa butter.
  • Once you mix all your ingredients, let the ganache reach room temperature completely before putting it in the fridge. This will keep it glossy. 
  • Use inverted sugar, it will prolong your ganache’s shelf life and make it shiny.

Recipes with Ganache

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