Have you ever had a ganache break? If you have, you'd know it. What is meant to be a satiny smooth, glossy, thick emulsion turns lumpy and grainy with liquid fat running all over the place. Very sad. Worry not though, because I am here to tell you how to fix broken ganache. There are plenty of tutorials out there that tell you how to fix broken ganache, and they all are effective as long as you don't mind that your fixed ganache is now runnier than it was originally. I'm going to tell you how to fix broken ganache without changing its texture. So, if you were going to make truffle centers, you still can instead of having to punt and make a sauce instead.
Why Does Ganache Break?
Before we learn how to fix broken ganache, let's look at why it breaks in the first place. Ganache is an emulsion of fat (both cocoa butter from the chocolate and the butterfat from cream) and water (from the cream) with wee bits of dry particles (the cocoa solids) evenly distributed throughout the mixture. When ganache breaks, it's very similar to what happens when chocolate seizes. The fat to water ratio is too high (there's way too much fat in relation to the amount of water present), so the fat decides to join up and leave the emulsion en masse, just pooling freely in the bowl while the cocoa solids clump together to gossip and the water sulks. Emulsions are uneasy unions, and when they break, they really break.
How To Keep Ganache from Breaking in the First Place
The good news is it's pretty hard to break a ganache when you're making it as long as you are using enough cream. A ratio of anywhere from 2 parts chocolate to 1 part cream (for truffle centers) to 2 parts cream to 1 part chocolate (for a lovely pourable glaze) and you'll be fine. Start going towards 3 or 4 parts chocolate to 1 part cream, and the fat will just group together and leave the party. Another piece of good news is that I made a ganache specifically to break it (you'll see the photos below), and it took some doing. I kept adding chocolate until it got grainy and all runny with fat. I started with one part cream and 3 parts chocolate, and although I didn't measure, it took probably about 5 parts chocolate to finally break it. And no recipe I can think of would ever call for a ganache that stiff.
Rules for Making Ganache That Is Smooth and Shiny
- Make sure the chocolate is chopped into wee pieces. Chocolate chip size works. So does grated chocolatge. The smaller the pieces, the more quickly it will emulsify and the less chance you have of things going awry. One of my favorite ways to get small pieces and extremely small pieces is to cut the chocolate with a serrated knife.
- Heat the cream to boiling and then pour it into a bowl before whisking in the chocolate. I learned, and many of you maybe learned, to make a ganache by pouring hot cream over chocolate, but unless you dump the cream in all at once, you can run into a seizing problem at the beginning with just a tiny bit of liquid introduced to a large amount of chocolate. It's a safer bet to stir the chocolate into the cream a bit at a time. Leaving the cream in the pot and then dumping in the chocolate is also a bad idea because some of the chocolate could burn when it hits the still-ridiculously-hot bottom of the pan. Hence the bowl.
- Have your chocolate at warm room temperature if you possibly can. If for some reason you store your chocolate in the freezer or the fridge (why are you doing that?!) let it come up to room temp before making ganache. I'm not certain that anything awful would happen, but it's not nice to shock our ingredients.
Remember when I said a broken ganache is like seized chocolate? Seizing happens when a small amount of water or other liquid comes into contact with chocolate while it's melting--or even after it melts. The water causes all the cocoa solids to clump together, just like sugar does on humid days. And once the solids gather in a group, the fat wanders off and the chocolate gets grainy, grossly unshiny and clumpily thick. In essence, that's the same thing that happens with a broken ganache. Here's a key difference: when chocolate seizes and you add more liquid to it to get the cocoa solids to unclump so the fat can re-disburse, you can't use it for tempering since the structure is altered. But you can use it as an ingredient. How about some brownies? With ganache, if you fix it the way I recently learned how to fix it, you can use it for whatever purpose you were originally making it for because you can fix broken ganache without changing its texture.
Yes, you heard me right. The magic ingredient you can add to ganache to make it smooth and glossy again doesn't alter the texture of your ganache, so whether you were going to use it for candy centers, a cake filling or a glaze, you can get right on with your business without missing a beat.
How To Fix Broken Ganache Without Changing Its Texture
I learned this in a "tip trade" from a friend who makes wonderful handmade candies and chocolates every year for her husband to give out as gifts to his clients. She asked me how to soften cold butter really quickly without its melting, and in "payment," she shared this tip she learned from Andrew Shotts, incredibly talented chocolatier and owner of Garrison Confections in Rhode Island. I am pretty sure she read it in his book, Making Artisan Chocolates* (2007), although she could have taken a class with him. I will have to ask her. Regardless, this is what Andrew Shotts does to rescue broken ganache. I thought it was the best tip ever, so I checked with her to make sure I could share it. She said yes, so here goes.
To fix a broken ganache, put about a tablespoon of the ganache in a dry bowl. Bring approximately 2 Tablespoons of corn syrup to a boil (this takes literally seconds in the microwave). Whisk half** the boiling corn syrup into the small amount of broken ganache until it is smooth and shiny again. Continue whisking in more and more of the broken ganache into your newly re-emulsified "seed ganache" (I just made that term up) until it's all incorporated and the whole batch is smooth and glossy, just like perfect ganache should be.
And that's it. Super simple, and it works. And most importantly, the texture of the ganache isn't altered, or it's altered so imperceptibly as not to matter.
I shall now show you in pictures how to fix broken ganache:
Look how thick the ganache is in the photos. I added enough chocolate that it would break the ganache which caused it to be Very Super Thick. I would never--and I bet you would never--make a ganache this thick on purpose. Even with it being super thick, this trick worked like a charm. I had to fix my ganache one other time for one of the glazes on the Chocolate Espresso Pound Cake I made awhile back. That ganache was much looser than this one, and it worked so well it seemed like magic. That's when I messaged Leslie to make sure it was okay to share with everyone.
- Sad, broken ganache.
- Look how lumpy and gross it is.
- Corn syrup will save the day! UPDATE: it's my guess that any liquid sugar will do. I've had people report it worked with maple syrup and agave as well as with corn syrup.
- Note how the part that's whisked in is nice and smooth and shiny again, even though there's still some broken ganache clinging to the whisk.
- Keep adding broken ganache, a little at a time, and whisk and whisk.
- Tada! Smooth and beautiful again!
I wish I could tell you that I understand exactly what is happening when you whisk the chocolate into the corn syrup that makes it get magically smooth again. Maybe it's the type of sugar in corn syrup, or maybe it's the particular combination of water and sugars that make up corn syrup. I honestly don't know, and I can't seem to find that information anywhere. But as much as I like to understand the how and the why of things, I am happy to report that the what in this case works! And if I ever do find an answer to my how and why questions, and I may just email Chef Shotts and ask him, I'll update the post.
And that's it! I hope you find this information helpful. Thanks again to Leslie for sharing it with me! If you have any other how to or why do we questions for me, or you need baking and pastry questions answered in general, please don't hesitate to get in touch, either in the comments or via email at onlinepastrychef [at] yahoo [dot] com!
Thanks for taking the time to read about how to fix broken ganache today. Have a lovely day.
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**You won't need the extra tablespoon of corn syrup. You just need more than 1 Tablespoon of syrup to keep it from crystallizing when it boils.