Milk Chocolate vs Ganache
Posted: 29 May 2011 01:36 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m curious as to the flavor differences between Milk Chocolate and a ganache, which obviously has a healthy dose of cream; I would think that a ganache would essentially taste like milk chocolate, but it doesn’t.  Does it just not contain the same quantity of milk solids as milk chocolate?  Has anyone tried adding powdered milk to a dark chocolate ganache?

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Posted: 29 May 2011 10:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Cream (specifically butterfat) amplifies the chocolate, while milk proteins mellow (some might say dull) the flavor.  I think the deal is that the butterfat in cream more than offsets the mellowing effect of the protein (since cream has so much more fat than protein), while in milk there is less fat to offset the protein.  I once played around with subbing milk for some of the cream in ganche, and the loss of chocolately flavor began at surprisingly small amounts of milk.  Of course, that could also be due to the higher water content, but I think it’s generally accepted that milk proteins mellow or dull chocolate.  This certainly holds true for cakes, where the ones with lower-fat dairy (milk buttermilk, sour cream) have a distinctly different, milder taste than the ones whose only dairy is butter.

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Posted: 29 May 2011 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Julie - 30 May 2011 01:58 AM

I think it?s generally accepted that milk proteins mellow or dull chocolate.

That’s what Cook’s Illustrated says.  Would you agree that this is the intent behind milk chocolate?

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Posted: 29 May 2011 11:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Yes.  I think that milk chocolate bars can have quite a strong taste, and milk helps mellow it (as does the extra sugar).  With chocolate bars, there is so much chocolate that it can be very nice to have a little mellowing- my favorite eating chocolate, when I can find it, is dark milk chocolate- there are a couple that are 40-50% cacao yet still have milk solids.  So delicious.

For cakes, however, there is so much flour, eggs, etc., to dilute the chocolate, that I generally like it without the dulling effect of one of the lower-fat dairy products.

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Posted: 30 May 2011 12:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Based on the butterfat logic, it would seem that the most powerful chocolate effect would occur with *no* milk proteins; in fact, all butterfat.  Clarified butter, maybe with enough water added back to keep the ganache loose enough to spread.  I wonder if the mechanism behind this is that since fat is a flavor carrier, the lower melting point of butter would send a chocolate hit to your senses faster.  But I’d also argue there is a point of diminishing returns; at some point, adding more butterfat would dilute the chocolate flavor.


(BTW, adding milk powder to the cream before pouring it over the dark chocolate works very nicely to create a milk chocolate mixture.  I’ve made several mini-batches tonight.  This strikes me as far more flexible than buying milk chocolate and trying to mix it with the proper amount of dark chocolate to keep it from being too sweet.)

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Posted: 30 May 2011 10:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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CharlesT - 30 May 2011 03:00 AM

Based on the butterfat logic, it would seem that the most powerful chocolate effect would occur with *no* milk proteins; in fact, all butterfat.  Clarified butter, maybe with enough water added back to keep the ganache loose enough to spread.

  The only problem with that is the clarified butter has a cooked taste that I don’t like as much in a ganache.  But the genoise au chocolate does this and it’s one of my favorites.

I wonder if the mechanism behind this is that since fat is a flavor carrier, the lower melting point of butter would send a chocolate hit to your senses faster.  But I’d also argue there is a point of diminishing returns; at some point, adding more butterfat would dilute the chocolate flavor.

Perhaps chocolate buttercream is like this.  It melts in the mouth even faster than butter, but its chocolate content is very dilute.

(BTW, adding milk powder to the cream before pouring it over the dark chocolate works very nicely to create a milk chocolate mixture.  I’ve made several mini-batches tonight.

How interesting, I’ve always wondered if something like that would work but stopped short because dried milk tastes so bad!  Hence my experiments with subbing fresh milk for some of the cream.  Good to know, I’ll have to try it next time I’m making gananche. smile

This strikes me as far more flexible than buying milk chocolate and trying to mix it with the proper amount of dark chocolate to keep it from being too sweet.)

Indeed.  If I had a steady supplier of a good unsweetened chocolate nearby, I’d use that for much of my baking and gananche, as it is not only more economical but also more flexible.  For instance, you can use half the quantity of unsweetened (as opposed to 50% dark) to make ganache or cake, and then add back the missing sugar.  Allows one to use caramelized or brown sugar, or to pick a sweeetness level to perfectly suit your needs without having to hunt all over town for the right % chocolate. 

In practice, though, I don’t have a steady supplier of high quality unsweetened, so I’m using I use Green & Black’s 85% chocolate for nearly all my ganache and cakes.  It has a very high cocoa butter content and not-too-strong flavor profile that I like for ganache.  I just add the sugar to the cream.

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Posted: 30 May 2011 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Julie - 30 May 2011 01:18 PM

dried milk tastes so bad!

Well, your palate might be more sensitive than mine, but I was even using baker’s special dried milk, which likely tastes even worse than the stuff intended for drinking, and it seemed pretty good to me.  I figured that the milk chocolate manufacturers are using something similar.

Julie - 30 May 2011 01:18 PM

If I had a steady supplier of a good unsweetened chocolate nearby, I?d use that for much of my baking and gananche, as it is not only more economical but also more flexible.

Yes, exactly.  I hate having to buy magic products.  BTW, CI rated the Hershey unsweetened baking chocolate as the best, over Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, Ghirardelli, Callebaut, Guittard.  I can’t seem to find it locally, oddly.  I’ve been ordering Callebaut online for years, but they didn’t care for the unsweetened version at all.

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Posted: 30 May 2011 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Out of curiousity what “Callebaut” does everyone use?  At my grocery store they carry Callebaut in bulk large chunks, but I find it horribly gritty.  We also have Bernard Chocolatier shops here that has their own,  but I also am aware of Cacao Barry—which is another Callebaut.  I guess “Callebaut” is synonymous with chocolate, but I’m always unsure of buying it online because I don’t know which “variety” is the good stuff and which ones are knock off lousy chocolate.

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Posted: 30 May 2011 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Sherrie - 30 May 2011 06:03 PM

I guess ?Callebaut? is synonymous with chocolate, but I?m always unsure of buying it online because I don?t know which ?variety? is the good stuff and which ones are knock off lousy chocolate.

Callebaut is a brand name, so you won’t see knock-offs using that name.  The semi- and bitter-sweet stuff is good, and so is the cocoa powder.  I actually use the unsweetened stuff, too; although CI didn’t think much of it, it’s been fine in the products I use. I’m often fortifying it with other types of chocolate anyway, as well as espresso powder.

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Posted: 30 May 2011 06:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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That’s why I think the stuff at my grocery store is something else, because it’s terrible.  I don’t care for it.  If I wouldn’t eat it (and enjoy it) I don’t plan to bake with it.  I should clarify the Bernard Callebaut Chocolatier is a Western Canadian Chocolatier, I believe.  Their stuff is good, but expensive.  Hence, I would like to try the Cacao Barry Callebaut stuff, but not sure if it is the same thing in my grocery store.

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Posted: 30 May 2011 06:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Sherrie - 30 May 2011 09:10 PM

I should clarify the Bernard Callebaut Chocolatier is a Western Canadian Chocolatier, I believe.

Ah:

One of Eugenius Callebaut’s great-great-grandsons, Bernard Callebaut, opened his own chocolate company in Calgary, Alberta. This firm (called Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut) was not affiliated with Callebaut or with the new company Barry Callebaut.

The original company is based in Belgium.

Here’s the stuff I buy:

http://www.chocosphere.com/cgi-bin/webstore/web_store.cgi

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Posted: 30 May 2011 10:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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If I had a steady supplier of a good unsweetened chocolate nearby, I?d use that for much of my baking and gananche, as it is not only more economical but also more flexible.  For instance, you can use half the quantity of unsweetened (as opposed to 50% dark) to make ganache or cake, and then add back the missing sugar.

Julie,

To do this, if your recipe called for 100g of chocolate that was 60%, would you simply use 60g chocolate and 40g sugar?  If you caramelized the sugar (as you mentioned you could do), would you then have to add back liquid to achieve the weight lost from cooking off the water?  This really interests me.  When buying chocolate, as you say, it’s much more economical to purchase unsweetened—otherwise, you’re just paying a very high price for sugar.

Thanks!

—ak

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Posted: 30 May 2011 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Anne in NC - 31 May 2011 01:59 AM

it’s much more economical to purchase unsweetened—otherwise, you’re just paying a very high price for sugar.

Keep in mind that there are sometimes other differences between the unsweetened and semi/bitter, besides sugar.  For instance, some of them contain lecithin, which could affect the texture of your final product. And, of course, vanilla, but that’s easy to rectify.

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Posted: 31 May 2011 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Yes, Anne, you’ve got the gist of it. smile

Charles’ point is why I settled on Green & Black’s 85%- it has an extra-rich cocoa butter content, like couverture, which produces a particularly smooth textured and not overly intense ganache.  I do buy Scharffenberger unsweetened when I can, but it is only stocked an hour’s drive away so it isn’t a staple for me.  But when the local shops put G&B on sale, I stock up on both white and 85%. 

I have a simple spreadsheet set up so that I can just plug in the % cacao that I have, the % that I want to emulate, and the grams needed in the recipe, and it tells me how to convert and how much sugar to add or subtract.  Doesn’t work for buttercream, though, as there’s no place to dissolve the sugar. 

Haven’t tried making BC with extra sugar syrup and unsweetend or 85% chocolate, has anyone tried it and if so does the extra syrup change the texture or stability?

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Posted: 31 May 2011 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Anne in NC - 31 May 2011 01:59 AM

  If you caramelized the sugar (as you mentioned you could do), would you then have to add back liquid to achieve the weight lost from cooking off the water?

Do you mean add back water to compensate for what boils off when you add a liquid to the finished caramel to dissolve it?  Rose has two caramel ganache recipes in RHC, and I don’t think she adds back the water in either, though the Devil’s Food ganache is pretty soft and so I think that water is compensated for in other parts of the recipe.

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