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Chocolate ganache is a luscious, velvety concoction that combines chocolate and warm cream. It’s delicious as a cake topping, a sauce, a dessert filling, or even a base for truffles.
If you’ve made a ganache, it’s no fun to see that it’s not glossy. Why does ganache not turn out shiny?
Chocolate ganache is shiny when warm, but it will turn to a rich, matt brown as it cools. Ganache also loses its shine if the chocolate and cream mixture seizes or splits. To make chocolate ganache retain its shine, you need to add butter, corn syrup, or glucose syrup and keep it at room temperature.
Making chocolate ganache is a reasonably straightforward process. Still, it’s disappointing when it doesn’t turn out as you’d hoped – if you’ve imagined a glossy, mirror-like glaze, you’ll wonder why you’ve ended up with dull, streaky, or even gritty ganache.
Why Your Chocolate Ganache Isn’t Shiny – And How to Fix It
There are two major reasons why your chocolate ganache may not turn out shiny. Fortunately, you can fix these problems so you can end up with that gorgeous gleaming ganache after all.
1 – Your Ganache Isn’t Shiny Because It’s Cold
The usual reason that ganache loses its shine is that it has chilled or been in the fridge. Even the best ganache or chocolate glaze will set with an even, matt finish if it gets cold.
The challenge is that ganache contains cream, which is perishable, so logic says that you should keep it cool. However, if you made ganache and glazed a cake or torte, then refrigerated it, the glaze will be dull.
If you take it a step further and freeze it, your ganache will get chunky and split as well.
Unfortunately, even if you make ganache and leave it at room temperature overnight, the chances are that it will set and turn matt.
How to Make Your Ganache Shine Again
To ensure that your ganache stays shiny, there are a couple of options.
- Your best option is to glaze the cake on the day you serve it so that it does not have to be refrigerated. Bake the cake the day before, but glaze it at the last minute.
- Keep your ganache at between 90 and 100°F when you pour it. This temperature ensures a shiny ganache.
- If you have refrigerated your ganache, don’t worry. Cakes, tortes, and desserts – the usual vehicles for ganache – are best served at room temperature. Remove the chilled cake or dessert from the fridge about an hour before serving and let it return to room temperature. A warmer environment should restore the shine to the ganache.
- Alice Medrich, a food writer and chocolate expert, has an extreme solution if you are really in a fix. She suggests using a hairdryer on the lowest warm setting and, standing about three feet away from the cake, blowing warm air around the cake to soften the fats in the ganache and create a moist and shiny look. Try this at your own risk – too hot a setting will leave you with a puddle of sludgy glaze!
2 – Your Ganache Isn’t Shiny Because It Split
Another reason your ganache isn’t shiny is that it split or separated while making it.
Ganache splits because of its composition: chocolate and cream combine to form an emulsion. As you melt the cream and chocolate, tiny drops of fat (from the cocoa butter and butterfat) break up and are suspended in the water remaining. The droplets won’t dissolve (think of oil and water) but blend to form a creamy, delicious ganache.
If you overheat or overbeat the ganache, the fat splits off from the water and solidifies, leaving gritty lumps and a watery mess.
How to Make Your Ganache Shine Again
It is possible to rescue a split or separated ganache. Try these hints:
- Place your ganache over a double boiler and heat slowly. Stir gently to melt the fat again. Take care not to overheat the ganache, which will make it split again – this is why using a microwave to make ganache can be risky. Instead, take the ganache off the heat every 10 seconds to cool and stir it.
- Slowly drizzle a couple of teaspoons of warm milk or cream into the mixture, stirring continuously and gently to smooth out the mix.
- Add some finely grated chocolate and stir to melt to thicken the ganache again.
How to Always Make Shiny Ganache
Bakers know a couple of secrets to keeping your ganache shiny, even if you refrigerate it. Because chocolate and cream both turn matt as they cool, adding ingredients is necessary to keep the ganache glossy. Here are some ideas.
Add Glucose Syrup
Adding glucose syrup is a trick used by professional bakers. Glucose, which is a form of sugar, creates a lustrous finish.
You can add glucose syrup to your cream when you warm it, stirring gently to combine. You’ll use about three tablespoons of glucose syrup for 100 ml of cream.
Because glucose syrup is thick, it acts as a binder, helping the emulsion hang together, so you’re less likely to have a split ganache. The sugar also acts as a preservative, reducing the chance of spoilage.
Best of all, glucose syrup smooths out the ganache, reducing grittiness and graininess, and keeping it shiny.
Add Corn Syrup
If you can’t find glucose syrup, use corn syrup, another sugar, which functions similarly. Use it in the same ratio as glucose syrup.
Corn syrup will also act as a binder but is thinner than glucose, so it won’t set the ganache as firmly. However, it will create a sheen on your glaze.
Is Ganache the Same as Mirror Glaze?
Sometimes bakers are disappointed in the appearance of their chocolate ganache because they have confused ganache and mirror glaze.
Chocolate ganache is a combination of warm cream and melted chocolate and can be used as a frosting, a filling, a glaze, or even the basis of chocolate truffles. Ganache can be matt or shiny, depending on the temperature and ingredients.
Chocolate mirror glaze is a topping for cakes that is shiny and reflective. The critical ingredient of mirror glaze is gelatine, combined with sugar, cocoa powder, cream, and water.
Because of their different ingredients, ganache and mirror glaze will not have the same appearance – ganache will never be as reflective as mirror glaze.
Chocolate ganache may lack sheen because it is cold or because the emulsion has separated. To ensure a shiny ganache, keep it at warm room temperature, or add glucose or corn syrup.