Why on earth would you ever, ever, ever want to water down chocolate? I realize that this might be what you're thinking as you read the title of this post. But stay with me, because I promise, water ganache is worth your time.
So, I became acquainted with the idea of water ganache like so. I made ganache with beer, which I thought was terribly clever and inventive, and then someone was all, "Have you ever made water ganache?".
Well, I discounted the idea instantly: why would I ever want to water down chocolate?
But then I started to look into it, and I got curious. Apparently, cream-free ganache varieties of ganache have gained some momentum in the pastry chef world in the past few years. Chef Damian Allsop is considered a pioneer of the water ganache, using spring water and flavor infused waters to create unique ganache varieties.
According to the article linked just above, his "goal with his water ganache is to simply deliver flavor in the best possible way, enabling the consumer to taste the true character of the chocolate to respect what he states is “the amazing chocolates with complex flavors” being produced by the small, artisan chocolate makers who have come onto the scene in recent years."
Basically, if you use water to make your ganache, there is no masking of the chocolate flavor--it shines through completely. This can be a beautiful thing if you're using excellent chocolate. But water ganaches made using substandard chocolate? Not so much.
Without cream to put a warm blanket of tastiness over everything, mediocre chocolate will make a mediocre water ganache.
So the deal here is that if you're making water ganache, you have to use good quality chocolate. And if you do, you will be so, so, so very rewarded. The water doesn't dilute the chocolate flavor: if anything, it clarifies it, simply altering the texture so that the pure essence of chocolate can be tasted in a different structure.
It's almost like your glaze, filling, or icing is a textural version of the taste experience of eating a perfect square of dark chocolate.
Plus, once you've tried out a water ganache, you can mess with it in any number of ways. Instead of plain water, you could use a flavored water: say, one infused with lemon slices (which are drained before you make the ganache) or water with a teaspoon of liqueur or flavoring extract mixed in. You could even start going nuts and use steeped tea or try out different beverages, like my beer ganache recipe.
I'm not saying that water ganache should totally eclipse traditional cream ganache in your recipe repertoire. But I am saying that there's a time and a place for it, and it is good stuff.
Here's how you do it.
Note: the important thing here is that you use equal quantities of water and chocolate, by weight. You can adjust the recipe based on the amount you need.
- 6 ounces very good quality chocolate
- 6 ounces water
Chop the chocolate coarsely and put it in a heatproof bowl. Set to the side.
In a saucepan, heat the water until it comes to a low boil.
Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. It will look muddy at first but will start to combine rather quickly.
Mix with a whisk until the chocolate melts entirely, and you have a hot chocolate-like substance.
Let the mixture cool, stirring every 10 minutes or so until it is of a consistency just right for whatever you want to do with it. I used it as a glaze on mini custard pies, as seen in the photos in the post.
Out of curiosity, I also poured some of the water ganache into silicone cupcake liners and then put it in the freezer. It came to a solid consistency that would make for a perfect frozen treat.