I am taking my own advice and that which I shared with you in a prior Cooking Tip. That advice is to try a new recipe. I have been wanting to experiment with water-based ganache and I decided there is no better time than now. My experience is the subject of this Cooking Tip.
I’m sure you have heard the old adage (and I’m sure I have even repeated it) that you should not get water in chocolate or it will seize. Well, as it turns out, that is only partially true. I began to wonder about this when I first learned that the chocolates from one of my favorite chocolate shops, The Chocolate Therapist in Littleton, Colorado made their signature “meltaways” with a water ganache. So, I decided to do a bit of research.
It is true that if you get water into your chocolate, it will seize and turn grainy. Many “experts” will tell you that if that happens, there is nothing you can do. You must throw it away and start again. As I said, that is only partially true. If you get a small amount of water into your chocolate, it will indeed turn grainy. However, if you add a bit more water and stir, it will turn into a beautiful glossy mixture. Why is that? If you want a scientific discussion of this phenomenon, see this link from Fooducation.
Why use water rather than cream for your ganache? The pure & simple answer – Flavor. Dairy actually mutes the flavor of chocolate. By not using cream, the true flavor of the chocolate shines through. Of course, that means you want to use a high quality chocolate. There are so many artisan chocolate makers around today and their chocolates have complex & varied flavors. With a water ganache, you can actually taste those wonderful flavors.
Another reason is for your lactose-intolerant friends or family members or for those who choose not to eat dairy. As long as you use a good quality dark chocolate without any milk in it, they also can enjoy these treats. A final advantage is that the caloric content is 40-50% less than in a cream-based ganache.
The method for making water-based ganache is similar to that based on cream. Start by chopping your chocolate into very small pieces. You can heat your water (or other liquid), pour it over the chocolate, allow it to melt the chocolate and stir vigorously. Alternatively, you can melt your chocolate, heat your liquid and then mix together.
The ratio of chocolate to water you use depends on the final product you want. Some will tell you to start with a 1:1 ratio and that will work if you want a pourable chocolate. However, if you want something that you can turn into a truffle, you will need a minimum of 2:1 (chocolate to water) or even a bit higher.
You can also add a bit of fun by using not just plain water but flavored waters in all forms. For instance, citrus-infused water, steeped tea, juices or even liqueurs.
My first attempt was with white chocolate and lemon juice. The person who shared that recipe with me said it reminded her of lemon curd and they truly do taste like that.
I next tried dark chocolate with orange. Instead of juice, I used an orange liqueur. However, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough orange flavor. I did not want to add more liqueur as it would thin out the chocolate and make the result taste a bit too alcoholic. So, I used just a bit of orange oil and that did the trick.
My final truffle was chai flavored. I brewed very strong chai tea and used that as my flavoring liquid. The chai flavor was evident but not extremely pronounced. I may try another method that I found. Put your chocolate in a plastic container and add the dry tea to that container. Since I only use loose-leaf tea, I would put it into a disposable spice bag or something similar. Leave it for about a week, stirring it around every so often. The tea flavor is said to infuse into the chocolate. When you are satisfied with the aroma, use hot water to make your ganache and enjoy.
Let me know if you try these. I enjoyed them so much that I am not sure if I will ever go back to the cream-based ganache!