Holiday Entertaining

3 Tips for Chocolate Ganache Success

October 28, 2013

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Don't let grainy ganache sink you. Get Alice Medrich's 3 tips on choosing the right chocolate, the right recipe, and the best tool for the job.

How to Make Ganache from Food52

Ganache would appear to be the easiest recipe in the world. It's just chocolate and cream, right? But when ganache goes wrong it separates or curdles, or it results in truffles that sag or that are too stiff and or have a grainy texture. Success with ganache is all about ratios and cacao percentages. Here’s what you need to know.

1. The ratio of chocolate to cream determines how stiff or soft the ganache will be: a sauce or glaze takes more cream (or liquid) than a truffle center. Sauces and glazes are easier to make than truffle centers because the ratio can be less precise and because the ganache can be adjusted by eye at any time by adding more liquid until the mixture is smooth.

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2. Ganache for truffle centers is more finicky because you need just the right amount of liquid to form a perfect emulsion with the chocolate so that the truffle is smooth and creamy yet firm enough to hold a shape after it's cool. The correct ratio of liquid to chocolate depends on the cacao % of the chocolate you are using. A higher percentage chocolate requires more liquid and it is trickier to emulsify: it’s easier to make a perfect truffle ganache with a 60% to 62% chocolate than a 70% percent chocolate because the extra sugar in sweeter chocolate aids emulsification.

Ganache from Food52

3. Either way, a perfect emulsion for truffles is easiest to get with an immersion blender. A food processor is next best and a hand held whisk is possible but not advisable unless you have expert whisking skills and are making a small batch using chocolate that does not exceed 62% cacao. In other words, go for the immersion blender. For sauce or pouring ganache, a blender is not necessary or even appropriate; those can be made with a whisk or in some cases even a spatula!

Bottom line: The ratio of chocolate to cream for any type of ganache depends on the cacao percentage of the chocolate. You need a good specific recipe that calls for chocolate of a precise percentage or range of percentages. Beware of recipes that simply call for bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate and that do not specify cacao percentage. If you use bittersweet chocolate with 70% cacao in a recipe that was created for bittersweet chocolate with 60% cacao, your ganache may fail. Always use a recipe that specifies the cacao percentage of the chocolate and choose chocolate with that percentage.

More: 9 Chocolate Cakes for you.

Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet.


Photo by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Mark Mayer
    Mark Mayer
  • Monica M
    Monica M
  • Alice Medrich
    Alice Medrich
  • jbban
  • Frances
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


Mark M. March 12, 2019
Is it possible to mix chocolate percentages when making a ganache? I have a number of Lindt 70% bars and then some dark chocolate bars which I suspect are probably 45-50%. The recipe I’m making ( orange soaked genoise with orange curd and chocolate ganache frosting) calls for a 62% cocoa solid ganache. Maybe a better question is what good quality chocolate, readily available in stores, contains around 60% cocoa solids? Thanks for your suggestions.
Monica M. October 29, 2013
As a chocolate lover, I love these articles by Alice Medrich. I'm learning so much...and Ms. Medrich - your cocoa brownies are a huge hit in my house (you were right about natural cocoa creating even more flavor than Dutch-processed). Thank you! : )
Alice M. October 28, 2013
Grainy ganache can be a technique issue, but it may also be caused by using the wrong among of cream for the chocolate. The correct amount of cream is a function of the cacao percentage of the chocolate. A good ganache recipe MUST specify the cacao percentage. These days, a ganache recipe that does not specify cacao percentage is like a main dish recipe that simply calls for "beef" rather than specifying "filet" or "brisket" or "skirt".
jbban October 29, 2013
jbban October 28, 2013
So, is grainy ganache the result of using the wrong ingredients and nothing to do with technique? Is there any way to save a grainy ganache?
Frances October 28, 2013
That's so wonderful, thank you! Just ordering my copy now! Yay!
Alice M. October 28, 2013
Yes indeed! Gram measures are included in Seriously Bittersweet. I hope that makes it easier for you.
Frances October 28, 2013
Hello Alice, thanks for the great tips! I'm sorry to revive the measurement debate, but I saw your previous comment that your upcoming books will include metric measurements and I was hoping this includes Seriously Bittersweet. Bittersweet must be my favourite book, and I would love to see the revisions, but just wondered if the new book provides gram measurements (that's metric, isn't it?!).