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  • Writer's pictureGemma Nicholas

Testing new plant-based ganache recipes


More and more, people are looking for plant-based alternatives to traditional recipes. I think it’s really exciting to explore the possibilities that plant-based patisserie brings, and intend to start experimenting more with plant-based alternatives in my recipes. First up, chocolate ganache!


A traditional dark chocolate ganache is usually made of dark chocolate and cream, often in a 1:1 ratio. I always use the Callebaut 54% dark chocolate which is naturally vegan, so there was no need to substitute the chocolate for these tests. I replaced the cream with three alternatives: unsweetened oat milk, full-fat coconut milk and water.


My favourite test was made using unsweetened oat milk (I used Moma because they are based locally to me in South East London). I really loved this ganache - the oat milk gives it a bit of a malty flavour but doesn’t take away from the chocolate flavour. Using a 1:1 ratio gave a beautifully soft but pipeable consistency when left to set at room temperature. It was a smooth texture, not grainy at all, and didn’t split. Because of the low fat content of oat milk, I added some margarine at the end to add some fat which improved the mouthfeel and made the flavour last longer on the palate.


My second favourite was made with full-fat coconut milk. The coconut comes through as a fruity flavour which I really enjoyed. It wouldn’t work well in all recipes but would certainly pair nicely with tropical fruits, nuts or other chocolate elements. I used the 1:1 ratio again and really loved the texture as it was super smooth, shiny and luscious. It set to a pipeable consistency quite quickly and stayed the same texture when left at room temperature (whereas a traditional 1:1 cream ganache will normally set quite firm and need to be warmed slightly to bring it back to the desired consistency). Although the flavour stayed on the palate longer than the oat milk ganache, it didn’t stay as long as a traditional cream-based ganache so I added some coconut oil. This worked well although did increase the coconut flavour so if you don’t want this then using a neutral fat such as margarine would be a better option.

Finally, and my least favourite of the three, I tried making the ganache with water. As you would expect, this gave the most pure chocolate flavour of all the tests because no other flavours were added to the chocolate. On initial tasting, the ganache tasted diluted but when it set, the chocolate flavour was considerably more pronounced. I used a 1:1.5 ratio of water to chocolate which gave a good consistency when set, however it took much longer than the other tests to set at room temperature. I did all the tests by hand using a spatula (i.e. not using an electric stick blender) but the water-based ganache became quite grainy and split so in future this would need to be made using an electric stick blender to emulsify the ingredients together properly.


In conclusion, I can see myself using all of these plant-based ganaches in recipes going forward, depending on the flavour profile required. I actually preferred the oat milk ganache to the traditional cream-based ganache as it was a lot less rich.


As with all ganaches, these can be supplemented with other ingredients to change the flavour, for example I added a small amount of hazelnut praline to the oat milk ganache and it tasted just like a Ferrero Rocher!


I’m testing how well these ganaches freeze and what their shelf life is so I will report back with more information soon! There are also lots of other plant-based options to try out too, such as soy-based and nut-based milks and creams, but as these include allergens (soybeans or tree nuts) and may exclude those with allergies, I thought I would focus on the most inclusive alternatives.



Oat milk ganache

Ingredients

100g vegan dark chocolate

100g unsweetened oat milk

5g margarine or plant-based butter (optional)


Method

1. Melt 100g dark chocolate in a microwave or over a bain-marie (heatproof boil over a pan of boiling water)

2. Warm 100g unsweetened oat milk to steaming

3. Pour half the oat milk over the chocolate and stir in small circular motions in the centre of the bowl until it starts to emulsify (it become thicker and shinier)

4. Pour in the remaining oat milk and stir in small circular motions until it is all combined

5. Leave the ganache to cool to c. 30°C and then add in 5g margarine and stir well to combine (if you add this earlier then the fat will melt and will not emulsify into the ganache properly)


Coconut milk ganache

Ingredients

100g vegan dark chocolate

100g full fat coconut milk

5g coconut oil, margarine or plant-based butter (optional)


Method

1. Melt 100g dark chocolate in a microwave or over a bain-marie (heatproof boil over a pan of boiling water)

2. Warm 100g coconut milk to steaming

3. Pour half the coconut milk over the chocolate and stir in small circular motions in the centre of the bowl until it starts to emulsify (it become thicker and shinier)

4. Pour in the remaining coconut milk and stir in small circular motions until it is all combined

5. Leave the ganache to cool to c. 30°C and then add in 5g coconut oil/margarine and stir well to combine (if you add this earlier then the fat will melt and will not emulsify into the ganache properly)


Water ganache

Ingredients

100g vegan dark chocolate

65g water

5g margarine or plant-based butter (optional)


Method

1. Melt 100g dark chocolate in a microwave or over a bain-marie (heatproof boil over a pan of boiling water)

2. Warm 65g water to steaming

3. Pour half the water over the chocolate and stir in small circular motions in the centre of the bowl until it starts to emulsify (it become thicker and shinier)

4. Pour in the remaining water and blend with electric blender until it is all combined

5. Leave the ganache to cool to c. 30°C and then add in 5g margarine and stir well to combine (if you add this earlier then the fat will melt and will not emulsify into the ganache properly)


For more information on the traditional cream-based ganache, you can have a look at my recipe here.

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