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Alternatives to Heavy Cream Based Ganaches

Apr 24, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose

My favorite frosting for the ultimate chocolate taste, texture and ease in making is chocolate ganache, which I wrote about, in a previous posting, Birthday Ganache.




When artist friend Martha Rast asked Woody, if we had any lactose free frostings,this lead to testing with unflavored soy milk to come up with a ganache that has a slightly tangier taste compared to the standard heavy cream ganache but also has an excellent flavor and texture making ideal for the lactose intolerant or vegan. The difference between a ganache made with heavy cream and one made with soy milk is that the soy milk gives a lighter color more toward a dark milk chocolate. Its preparation requires the addition of a higher percentage of the soy milk to keep a creamy texture that will adhere to the cake.

Here is the recipe for Soy Milk Ganache with Silk plain soy milk and Valhrona le Noir Gastronomie 61% cacao.

Soy Milk Dark Chocolate Ganache
Makes: almost 3-1/3 cups/29.3 ounces/834 grams

dark chocolate, 60 to 62% cacao, chopped14 ounces400 grams
plain soy milk, preferably Silk2 cups (16 fluid ounces)16.6 ounces473 grams
pure vanilla extract1 tablespoon..

Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium glass bowl.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a 4 cup microwave proof cup with a spout, or in a medium saucepan, stirring often, scald the cream (heat it to the boiling point--small bubbles will form around the periphery).

With the motor running, pour the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth. Pulse in the vanilla. Pass the ganache through the fine strainer into the glass bowl and let it sit for 1 hour. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to cool at room temperature for several hours, until the mixture reaches a soft frosting consistency.

Storage times are even longer than the heavy cream based ganache of: up to 1 week at room temperature; 2 weeks refrigerated; and 6 months frozen.


The success of the soy milk encouraged us to explore other non-dairy milks. We found that Silk Almondmilk works just as well as a direct substitution for the soy milk, is less tangy, adds a lovely almond flavoring which gives a richer dimension to the chocolate flavor.

Further exploration had us experiment with coconut cream and milks. Canned versions of both, which are thicker than heavy cream, produced a ganache similar in color to that made with heavy cream but had the disadvantage of a noticeably gritty appearance. Coconut cream contains 24% fat and coconut milk contains 17% fat. However, coconut milk in the carton has only around 6% fat. A couple of tests arrived at a ratio that works with the chocolate's weight at 15% higher than the coconut milk, which is the opposite of the soy and almond milk versions. The coconut milk gives a subtle coconut taste to the chocolate and the ganache's color is darker than the ganache made with either soy or almond milk.


Hi Alene,
A ganache made with dairy half and half will not have the creaminess or the texture to a heavy cream ganache for applying as a frosting. Half and half ganache can be whipped which will lighten its color and intensity for applying it as frosting.
We have not experimented with lactose free half and half and there by cannot say how it will work. Fortunately, ganache can be made in a small batch, giving you the freedom to experiment with different ratios of chocolate to half and half.
You may want to look at some of the vegan and dairy free websites under SITES I LIKE on the left side bar for advice from bakers using theses ingredients.
We do suggest trying our Almond Milk Ganache version as it would be a good accompaniment for Alice's hazelnut cake.
Rose & Woody


Hi. I am 100% lactose intolerant, much to my surprise. I found lactose free half and half. Can that be used in a chocolate ganache? I know it is looser than heavy cream. I am making Alice Medrich's Hazelnut Cake...in her Flavor
Flours. I am gluten intolerant as well. I consider myself a decent baker (I have and have used your books as well), and this was traumatic for me, but now a challenge. Many thanks.


Thank you for the recipe! The proportion of the ingredients as they are in the recipe would have made it a sauce instead of ganache. I used the soy milk from Trader Joe's, which is 6% fat, so maybe that's why. I added the soy milk little by little, and stopped when it became loose enough. I didn't use a strainer since they incorporated silky smooth without it (I melted the chocolate before adding soy milk). Even though I didn't follow your recipe to the T, your recipe gave me the encouragement to make soy milk ganache. So thank you!


I couldn't be more thrilled to have found this post. Made a soy milk ganache last night for a vegan fathers' day treat. It was easy and perfectly delicious. Had to use ingredients on hand & substituted Guitard semi sweet chocolate morsels. Maybe not as chocolaty, but still great! Thank you thank you thank you.


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from McBrownie
05/ 9/2014 09:58 PM

Hi McBrownie,
The soy milk we used had 7% total fat and 3.5% saturated fat.
Rose & Woody


Hey Rose/Woody,
what's the fat percentage of the soy milk? Is it around 2%?
The reason I ask is that I'm not from the US so I'm not sure if your products are the same as ours, and it sounds strange to me to make a ganache that is thick enough to frost a cake, with a product with such a low fat content.



Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Sherrie
02/ 7/2014 11:04 PM

Hi Sherrie,
From our testing we found that you can use regular whole milk, but the color of the ganache is less dark (like the almond milk ganache picture above) and does not taste as rich as a ganache made with heavy cream.
You also have to make the ganache with 15% more chocolate by weight to whole milk. Once the hot milk has been food processed into the chocolate, you need to press the ganache through a fine-mesh strainer to produce a silky ganache like a heavy cream based ganache after it has set.
You will likely need to experiment with different ratios of lactose free creams and milks to chocolate for producing a ganache that you like.
Rose & Woody


I should add: I have access to lactose free 10% cream and also lactose free milk.


Hi! I am wondering if anyone has tried this with 10% cream or even regular milk? Reason I ask is I want to make ganache that is lactose free (I can't get lactose free 35% cream here) and also nut free. I'm curious to know if this works with regular milk as well.


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Henry
05/13/2011 04:46 PM

Hi Henry,
The Cake Bible's Dark Chocolate Ganache page 269 has soft butter as an optional ingredient.


I will experiment with making ganache with freshly-made soy milk and report the results!


Hi Woody and Rose,
I wonder what you two think of the practice of adding soft butter to emulsify with the cream/chocolate?


I just had one thing to add to this discussion and blog. In order for it to be truely "dairy/lactose free" and vegan, one needs to make sure the chocolate being used is vegan
(no milkfat/butterfat/or whey). Make sure to check the label for this hidden ingredient in many chocolate brands. I tried this formula and it seemed soupy. I am letting it sit overnight to see if it thickens, and I will also try whipping it. The chocolate I use for my vegan items is a brand called "Enjoy Life" vegan chocolate chips. Thank you for sharing your wonderful knowledge and research with us. You are truely an artist that cares deeply about her craft.


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Rosa
05/ 3/2011 11:55 AM

Hi Rosa,
The recipe for the cake is on the blog under the posting "Rose's Favorite Yellow Layer Cake".


Thank you Rose for the information about the ganache. I have a question. What yellow cake recipe is the one above with the ganache?


Have you considered trying hazelnut milk? Also, I have used a vegan "nut cream" before and it had amazing body and mouthfeel that would work well. I can't seem to find a source for it on the web though..


I would like to make the ganache with coconut milk. What is the recipe?


anne, the kindle enhanced ebook of RHC is fantastic. it is my fondest hope that the cake bible and other of my books will become available on e books as well.


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Olawale
04/20/2011 04:30 PM

hi Wale,
If we have one, our recommendations for a brand for an ingredient will be either stated with the recipe's ingredients, the recipe's notes, or in the ingredients chapter. Availability is dependent on distribution.
Websites have recipes for making your own sour cream.


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from RichardB
04/20/2011 04:20 PM

Hi Richard,
For the ganaches,I waited until they molded for the longest refrigerated and room temp shelf lifes. But for our posting, I went by when their taste became less than what I felt acceptable which was a definitely before the onset of mold.


Ah, thank you. How do you know when a ganache or cake has reached the end of its life? The only thing that immediately occurs to me for a cake is staleness.


wale, please check page 426 cake bible.

richard, storage times were determined by actual experimentation. the factor that enables soy ganache to store longer than cream is that it is non dairy.


Hello Rose,

Please I will like to ask you the following. I want to know the brands of the following product you can recommend and why? I find it difficult choosing the best quality;

1. Sourcream
2. Buttermilk
3. Half and Half
4. Whole Milk
5. Heavy Cream
6. Plain - unflavored yogurt

Also, If I ran out of sourcream, can I add lemon juice, cream of tartar or yogurt to heavy cream?




My excuse will be this post! Many thanks, Rose


How are storage times determined? What factor in the soy milk ganache makes it store for a longer period of time?


Oh, I know someone I can pass this along to! Thanks! BTW, I have made ganaches with coconut milk before, and it works very nicely. I made it for truffle insides, so I can't say offhand what the proportions would be for spreadable ganache, but it made a very delicious gananache if you want that little bit of coconut flavor.

Rose, sort of off-topic, but I notice that RHC is available in a Kindle edition. Seriously thinking of getting it!!! I'd so love to see TCB (and your other Bibles) with Kindle editions!!! Any chance of what might be the world's greatest reference book series becoming available in this format???

Many thanks!



THIS is the coolest thing EVER. If the non-dairy versions past muster with you, they've gotta be pretty darn good indeed. Now I just need a cake-making excuse!


Perfect! Now I don't have to go buy Tofutti for frostings.


Wonderful! Many of my family members have dairy allergies so I'm always looking for alternatives that are delicious.



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