Ganache, like most confections, is a labor of love.
It’s seldom quick or easy to make the ganache, so many bakers try to stretch it as far as possible before using it.
While this may save time in the short run, it can be fattening and will certainly lower the quality of your baked goods in the long run.
Because it’s so labor-intensive to make the ganache, many bakers try to stretch it by serving as little of it as possible while making the rest seem like more.
That’s why many chocolate mixtures are called ganache— even if they don’t contain a drop of cream or butterfat.
All you need is some cocoa powder.
For that matter, I’ve seen some bakers that add in a bit of instant coffee or unsweetened cocoa powder to thicken their chocolate mixture and call it ganache.
However, for a real ganache, you need some butterfat and cream (although some low-fat versions can be made with water, fruit juice, or non-dairy milk).
But even if you use this substance judiciously, a lot of time and effort goes into making ganache.
It’s hard to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth when the mixture is only served as a small component of a much larger baked good.
After all that work, it almost seems like a waste to put it in the refrigerator and possibly have it last only a few days.
One solution to this problem is freezing. Yes, you can freeze ganache.
You just need to treat it right. In this article, we will discuss the ins and out of preserving and freezing ganache.
What Is Chocolate Ganache?
Making your ganache can be a little intimidating at first, but with just a few simple ingredients, you can have something delicious to use in an endless array of recipes.
A chocolate ganache is primarily made up of two parts-chocolate and cream.
The chocolate provides both flavor and texture, while the cream is responsible for the rich and silky mouthfeel.
Most ganache recipes will tell you to add the cream directly to the chocolate; however, today’s recipe recommends combining it in a separate bowl over simmering water first.
How does this process help?
If you add hot liquid directly to chocolate, it can cause the chocolate to seize, which is essentially tiny particulates of solid fats that have melted and formed back together again-not what we want.
By heating your cream first, you ensure the fats are completely melted before coming into contact with the chocolate.
The next step in this recipe is to pour the chocolate over the cream and then whisk vigorously until you have a very smooth mixture.
If done correctly, your ganache will be shiny with no large particles of chocolate visible.
Do’s and Don’ts When Making Ganache
There are some definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to making ganache.
The key is getting the ratio of chocolate to cream correct since that’s what determines the final texture.
Too much chocolate, and you’ll be left with a hard candy instead of a smooth filling; too little chocolate and the mixture will be runny instead of silky.
1 – Do’s.
Never add hot cream to melted chocolate.
Doing so can cause the chocolate to seize, which is undesirable when making ganache.
At the same time, some recipes get around this by using a bain-marie, lukewarm water bath, or slow cooker; the best way to ensure your ganache comes out perfectly every time is by heating the cream allowing it to cool before combining it with the chocolate.
Add lots of flavors. Since you’re going through all this trouble, why not load up on additional flavors?
Spices add a lot to a ganache (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.), as extracts (vanilla extract, mint, or lemon oil can be used).
Also, if you’re using high-quality chocolate for the base of your ganache, you don’t need to add in extra flavorings.
Add flavoring by layering. If you’d like your ganache to be lighter, consider adding extracts or other flavorings while pouring the mixture into your baking pan.
This way, you can spread out the flavors evenly throughout the ganache and ensure a tasty consistency.
2 – Don’ts.
Don’t add hot water to melted chocolate-if you need something thinned down, use cream instead of water.
Some ganache recipes will tell you to add hot water-don’t.
The result isn’t pretty, and the taste of any water that’s mixed in is impossible to remove.
Don’t use chocolate chips or anything other than high-quality chocolate for your ganache base-you can always mix in quality ingredients, like chocolate chips or fresh fruit, to your ganache afterward.
Lastly, don’t automatically assume your ganache is a failure. Sometimes mistakes will happen-it’s okay.
If you find that the consistency of your ganache seems off (too hard or too runny), add small amounts until it reaches the desired texture, and then continue with the recipe.
There’s never any shame in using a little of something to fix a larger problem.
Does Freezing Affect Ganache?
Thankfully, ganache freezes well-in fact, freezing is an excellent way to help your candies set up.
During the freezing process, lots of tiny ice crystals form.
These build up on top of each other and push out any remaining water before effectively locking in place.
However, freezing can also cause some undesired effects. If your ganache is too thin, it can freeze and expand.
This cracks the chocolate and causes it to separate from the cream layer.
The solution is simple; just heat and remix your ganache, so the layers combine properly.
A smooth, silky texture is important too. If you add too much water to your ganache initially, it can become watery after freezing.
To combat this issue, add more chocolate to your mixture (two to three times as much if you’re looking for a really rich flavor) and freeze it slowly in the freezer to not crack the chocolate.
If your ganache is too thick, freezing can solidify it and make it difficult to spread evenly.
In this situation, melt a small amount of ganache before you begin spreading to thin things out.
Most commonly, though, freezing does absolutely nothing to the texture of your ganache-if your ganache is already silky and smooth, it will remain that way after freezing.
How to Freeze Ganache?
It’s best to freeze your ganache in a shallow pan (such as one made from aluminum or glass).
This way, you can place the entire pan into the freezer without worrying about water or other liquids forming in the corners.
If your ganache has already been poured into a baking pan, pour it into a shallow pan, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and freeze.
You can also freeze ganache in the bowl of your stand mixer (make sure to leave some space at the top for swelling) or a large measuring cup.
Just make sure to leave enough room for expansion.
Alternatively, you can use ice cube trays to freeze small portions; transfer the ganache cubes to a zippered freezer bag once frozen.
Lastly, you can pour your ganache into ice cube trays and freeze one tablespoon rations for easy use in recipes.
Thaw and stir before using. Make sure to mark the date of freezing on your ganache so you can use it at its peak quality.
Generally, the ganache will keep well for two to three months in the freezer, but this can vary depending on each recipe’s moisture content and ingredients.
How to Thaw Frozen Ganache?
The process to thaw frozen ganache is simple.
Place your frozen ganache in the refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight, and then remove it from the fridge about an hour before using-this will allow it to come to room temperature.
After thawing, it’s important to remember that ganache may have separated or become watery.
If this is the case, either gently re-emulsify with a hand blender and chill again for 10 to 15 minutes or stir in some chocolate pieces so you can form chunks of frozen ganache instead.
The recommended method for bringing your ganache to room temperature is the most important step in the process.
Do it slowly and do it gently. If you don’t give your ganache enough time to come up in temperature slowly, it can begin to drip or melt uncontrollably.
How to Use Thawed Ganache?
The best way to use thawed ganache is to spread it on top of a layer that has already been prepared (cake, cookie, tart shell).
You can also use thawed ganache as an icing or filling, but in these cases, you’ll want to make sure your ganache is cold and firm enough to hold its shape.
A common method for achieving this is placing the ganache in the refrigerator (covered) for a few hours after thawing.
This will ensure your ganache is firm enough to use as an icing or filling without melting all over your cake.
If you have prepared decorations that need to be applied directly onto a layer of frosting, it’s best not to thaw your ganache at all if you can avoid it.
Instead, place the decorations on top of a layer that has already been frosted, so they don’t touch any thawed or runny ganache.
How to Tell if Ganache is Bad?
If your ganache looks, smells, and tastes fine but you’re still concerned about its freshness, a simple test can determine its freshness without tasting.
It will expand in size (especially if you use larger amounts per recipe).
You can test your ganache by placing a spoon in the freezer after freezing and then pulling it out an hour later if the ganache is still frozen to the spoon’s handle.
If your ganache has started to separate and looks broken or curdled, throw it out immediately.
It will not recover with time in the freezer; only a fresh batch will do.
If your ganache has started oozing or dripping, there’s a good chance it’s bad.
Sometimes melting can occur due to improper freezing techniques, and thawing then results in dripping or oozing ganache.
If this happens to your ganache, discard it immediately.
It will not reharden once melted, and only a fresh batch will do.
In conclusion, ganache is a versatile thickening, sweetening, and flavoring agent.
It can be used to prepare fillings or coatings for cakes and pastries, but it’s often also used in truffles, mousses, sauces, ganache frosting, and even filling.
If you enjoy experimenting with ganache, the best way to store it is in the freezer, where you can keep it fresh for a few months.
When storing ganache in the freezer, remember to thaw it slowly and at room temperature and re-emulsify if necessary before using it.