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A Little Coloured Ganache Experiment

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A Little Coloured Ganache Experiment ~ Sweetness & Bite

I almost called this post “How to Colour White Chocolate Ganache”. Almost. Why did I not? Well, most people reading that would assume that I am an expert on colouring ganache, when in fact, the whole reason I started this experiment was that I didn’t actually know what I was doing.

And no one likes those people that pretend they know what they’re doing, when they really don’t.

So here we are, talking about coloured ganache, what I tried, what didn’t work, and what did work. Hence the ‘experiment’ bit.

Plus it sounds all, like, scientific. So it makes me feel smart.

And everyone needs to feel smart sometimes.

In case you didn’t already know, a while back I started trying to come up with different ways to decorate cakes without using fondant. I love the look of fondant, but when I’m making cakes for family I avoid fondant because we never actually eat it, and it’s a waste. So I started playing more with ganache and buttercream, and trying to find ways to decorate without fondant.

Years and years ago I remember reading something about colouring white chocolate ganache, but clearly I didn’t try it at the time, and forgot all about it. Then recently the words coloured ganache have been popping up all over the place, and I figured it must be time I gave it a try.

I wanted to see what other people had been trying, so I turned to trusty Google to give me answers. There were surprisingly few useful hits, but one that stood out as the most useful was a post by Cake Decor In Cairns where Naomi uses regular gel food colours to colour her ganache.

I, (and I’m sure a lot of people) thought “hang on, gel colours are water-based, they’ll seize the ganache!” but as Naomi pointed out – a large percentage of cream is water, and ganache (generally) works, regardless of this. She adds the colour to the cream before mixing it with the chocolate, which is where I started to rethink my plans to try her method. I often don’t want to colour an entire batch of icing the same colour, and I don’t want to make more batches than I have to, in order to get different colours.

Which leads me to my experiment, I wanted to see what kind of colour I could add to my ganache after it was made. The experiment was somewhat rushed, as I had a cake I needed to fill and get ready for my old man to take into work for some taste-testing, and limited to the colourings I had on hand, but I snapped some pictures of my attempts so I would know what to do and what not to do when I next want to try coloured ganache.

The three options I had were: water-based gel food colouring (I used Progel), Americolor oil-based candy/chocolate colour, and powder colouring. This ROLKEM semi-concentrate powder may not have been the best powder choice for this job, but it’s what I had, so I rolled with it.

A Little Coloured Ganache Experiment ~ Sweetness & Bite

Now before I continue I want to mention that when it comes to ganache, white chocolate pretty much hates me. Maybe because I have consumed kilos and kilos of its white choccy family in my lifetime and it’s trying to punish me for murder, I don’t know. But when it comes to ganache, there’s pretty much a 50/50 chance it will split when I make it. No matter whether I use cheap chocolate, or the love of my life, Whittaker’s chocolate, it’s all the same in Splitsville. There are no traces of water in the chocolate, the cream can be the perfect temperature, I can stir it fast, I can stir it slow, it just sometimes doesn’t want to work. 99% of the time I can re-emulsify the ganache and it’s perfectly useable, but man is it a p-i-t-a. (Pain in the arse, if you don’t know what p-i-t-a means. I’m just trying to be polite and keep my language clean so my mother doesn’t tell me off for swearing. Oh, sorry.)

Anyway, because of this, I decided to just colour a few spoonfuls of ganache with each of the colourings, so I wasn’t wasting too much when, er, I mean, if something went wrong.

I started by making some white chocolate ganache, using the ratio of 3 parts chocolate to 1 part cream. (If you’re new to ganache, then check out my post How to Ganache a Cake for how to make ganache, what to use, how much you need, and how to save it if it splits, etc.)

Into my first bowl went a couple of blobs of the finished, just-made ganache, and a small squirt of Progel colouring. I’d only stirred it a few times when the oil started to separate out of the chocolate. The purple colour was very muddy, probably because it wasn’t all combined, but the more I stirred the more oil released from the chocolate.

Ew.

Fail.

A Little Coloured Ganache Experiment ~ Sweetness & Bite

I added some Americolor Flo-Coat (a product used to turn gel colours into colours suitable to use with chocolate) which I had forgotten I had, in a too little, too late attempt to save it, but clearly it was the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Next time I’ll try adding it at the same time as the gel colour and see if it makes a difference.

Next, I tried the powdered colouring. I had high hopes for this since it’s powder and obviously has no liquid in it. But surprisingly the result was much the same as the gel colour. Several stirs in and the ganache began to separate. Only difference between this and the gel colour is that the powder coloured the oil that was separating from the chocolate. So, the oil was purple, but it’s still hardly a win.

A Little Coloured Ganache Experiment ~ Sweetness & Bite

(Side note: Yes, I did make the mistake of taking photos while my green t-shirt was reflected in the spoon. I’m a real pro photographer.)

By now my bubble was bursting, and I’d gone from thinking I might have three valid options to hoping against hope that I could somehow manage to not ruin the ganache with the oil based colour.

Burst bubble or not, I continued.

I added a small squirt of the candy colouring, crossed my fingers and stirred. And you know what, even I couldn’t screw it up. The colour blended easily with the ganache, and came out with the best and most vibrant colour. The purple was a little bluer than I liked, so I added a tiny dab of pink candy colour as well and mixed it in, again with no issues. This picture was taken after half a dozen stirs…

A Little Coloured Ganache Experiment ~ Sweetness & Bite

Here are the all samples side by side (or in a line, whatever, don’t be picky)

A Little Coloured Ganache Experiment ~ Sweetness & Bite

So, the verdict from my very “scientific” (sorry, can’t even type that with a straight face!) coloured ganache experiment? I think it’s pretty clear that the oil based candy/chocolate colouring worked best for me. I could have attempted to re-emulsify the split ganache that the powder and gel colours caused, but honestly I hate it when I have to fix ganache, so I’m not going to sign up to do that every time I want to colour it.

Made with equal parts chocolate and cream with a dash of the oil colour, I can imagine this being the perfect, vibrant drippy ganache for a Katherine Sabbath style cake (my new cake crush! You have seen her amazing cakes right?!)

I may one day try a small batch of ganache and pop some regular gel colour in with the cream, but I think for now I am much happier using the candy colours and knowing I won’t screw up the ganache. 

A Little Coloured Ganache Experiment ~ Sweetness & Bite

I should say ‘possibly’ won’t screw it up, because to be honest, I could screw up something that was ‘foolproof’.

Natalie
(The Fool)
xx

Do you colour your white chocolate ganache? Any wonderful (foolproof or not) tips I should know?

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50 Comments

  1. Hehe, I love your fail photos 🙂 I did this a couple of weeks ago with purple, orange and pink ganache, and had no problems at all! Only thing I didn’t like was starting from the slightly yellow tinge, but I used a whitener first, then progel- worked a charm! I now (where possible) use it instead of fondant, and customers can’t tell the difference! xx

    1. Sometimes I honestly just feel like the white choc ganache just hates me, and loves everyone else 😉 Yes the yellow tinge is a pain! I’d like to say it would be great if they could make real white chocolate that wasn’t yellow, but I don’t think I’d want to eat it once they’d done goodness knows what that would get rid of the yellow tinge!

      1. I think ganache hates me too, and meringues. Ahhhh I can’t take it when I see people gliding through their ganacheeeeee!!! Hehehhe much love from yasmine @petites_choses

  2. Your blog came up in good timing as colouring ganache is one thing I will be tackling this weekend. I do recall last year I coloured ganache in a soft pink with gel colour without any issues, but through my investigative research over the last couple of days, I have come across decorators who colour the cream first and then mix it with the chocolate and have repeatedly had success. I’m going to try that little experiment using the Americolor and Wilton’s gel colours which I have at hand to test that theory. Wish me luck!!!

    1. Hi Koula, good luck and I’d love to know how you get on! 🙂 I can see that colouring the cream is probably the way to go with gel colours, but I can’t seem to bring myself to have commit a whole batch of chocolate in case it goes wrong! One day I will bite the bullet and give it a go though.

  3. I used Wilton gel colour to get some green “grass” on the top of a mud cake. Looking at your 3 samples I’m incredibly relieved that it turned out really well because I would have been in tears otherwise. I mixed the colour in after having made the ganache and it set for 1/2 hour so it was reasonably firm at the time. Also with the gel it takes an extremely little amount to colour so that also may have made a difference.

    1. I’m glad it worked out for you Chris! 🙂 I haven’t got any Wilton colours to test it out with, but I’d hoped the Progel would work since it seems to be even more concentrated. There’s also every possibility it’s more to do with my actual ganache, I could really do with conducting a proper, slightly more scientific test 😉

  4. Hi Natalie,

    I’ve been colouring white chocolate ganache with gel colours, liquid colours or candy melts (for an intense red) for a couple of years now. Not had any problems so far…. But loved your tutorial. And the purple!

    1. Hey Radhika… Want to try out white chocolate ganache with colour . Can u please help with an fail proof recipe…. This will be for my daughter’s cake who will turn 3 soon.
      Excited to try the recipe
      Thanks in advance

  5. I do this by putting the colouring in the cream before heating. A little hard to gauge exactly what shade the colour will be but after doing it a few times you get the hang of it. I use the Americolor gels 🙂 never had it split on me this way 🙂

  6. White chocolate ganache failed this morning! It hates me too. I never use it because it’s always clumped up. BUt, had make another attempt today for an order and failed again. I also read the great post by Cairns too. And, she motivated me to make another attempt….oe day soon. Thanks for sharing your successes and fails, it helps the rest of us alot.

  7. Great post n helpful as well. I stumbled upon in in the same quest as u did one day. After that I went ahead did another experiment. U can try it as well. I mixed my regular Wilton gel colour with some oil (regular veggy oil) and gave it a good good stir. Then added it to my ganache and voila it dint seize. I suppose if this is to work we all can add any type of colour to ganache dissolved in oil.

    1. Hi Arundhuti. Thank you for that, I’ll have to try the oil trick next time! I’m always up for another challenge 😉

  8. Hi Natalie, you’re most certainly not the only one who’s enemy is white chocolate. I don’t think I have ever made a white chocolate ganache that hasn’t split and needed saving! I find if I make a runny ganache with a higher ratio of cream to chocolate it doesn’t split, but the more the white chocolate melts I see it starting to split. I made a massive vat of it today (1KG of chocolate used!) for my son’s birthday cake and planned to dye it bright green using Cocol chocolate colouring. The ganache split before I even added the colour, I tried everything to save it but it just wouldn’t combine nicely. I added the dye, still a split sticky horrible mess. Managed to finally get it to combine by adding a few dashes of cream and leaving it to rest for a while, then I stirred it really fast with a spoon and it all came together beautifully, leaving a bright green ganache! I found that only by waiting for a while after adding the cream (10-15 mins) did the ganache then come together, it didn’t combine right away at all. Whisking it slowly didn’t do anything either. I’m now slightly worried that it might not be thick enough but I did use a ratio of 1:4 to start with as I just knew I would be adding cream later to save it! Can you later thicken up ganache by warming it and then adding more grated chocolate? Just in case it is too runny…? I would also like to add that I love your blog and your devil’s food cake is my number one recipe for chocolate cakes and cupcakes. I also love your ganache tutorial a, baking strip tips and just everything! Thank you! X

    1. Hi Sarah, part of me is like “yay, I’m not alone!” and part of me is like “ugh, why does this happen to us??!” ? So frustrating!

      You should be able to add a bit more chocolate to the ganache if you warm it, and grating it like you said should help it melt faster and hopefully it will combine without splitting again. If it’s not too late you could test it first by smearing a layer of ganache onto a plate and leaving it for a bit to set, and see whether it’s firm enough.

      I’ve always preferred to use good quality chocolate rather than compound chocolate because I prefer the taste, but I’m actually starting to think I might try using the compound for a while, especially for cakes I’m doing for the blog. My friend uses Nestlé melts for ganache and has far fewer splitting problems than I do, so I am tempted to try it purely for the convenience factor. I’m so over the stress of having to fix split white choc ganache every time I make it!

      I’m so glad you love my tutorials and recipes. I made the devil’s food cake the other day and I have a bunch of offcuts I’ve been snacking on. I bought a new breakfast cereal which I just tried this morning and it was dreadful, so I’m tempted to just go have some of that cake for breakfast instead 😉 xx

  9. Hey Natalie,
    Thought I’d chime in here with a tip… I use Callebaut white chocolate callets at 3 or 4 to 1 (weather dependent) and have never (NEVER!) split a ganache.
    It’s not cheap but it’s definitely worth it.

    I haven’t yet tried colouring it but I’ve added water based flavourings successfully after the ganache was made. Banana flavour white chocolate ganache! :O

    Hope this helps 🙂

    Dan
    Cannonballcakery.co.uk

    1. Hi Dan, that’s good to know! 🙂 Also, any chance you fancy moving to New Zealand and make all my ganache for me? 😉 Sounds like you have the magic touch. I often eye up the Callebaut chocolate but it is so expensive (I suspect probably even more expensive in here than it is there. One day though, I’ll try it just as an experiment. Then I’ll know if it’s the chocolate or if it really is just me! (I’m not holding my breath that it’s the chocolate’s fault though :P)

  10. Such a useful post… Thanks. Sometimes I feel as if I’m the only one in the world who screws up ganache. Made my first drip cake last week with dark chocolate and it was perfect. This weekend, attempted a colored ganache with white chocolate and americolour and first it didn’t want to set, then it was too tick to drip. In desperation I turned it into Buttercream and now have a bowl of hard ganachy butter creamy stuff in my fridge that is as hard as a rock …. Need to replace my Gin after that last attempt!

  11. Do you have any idea how to make white ganache white? Store bought chocolate is more yellow. I’ve been wanting to make a light blue but it always turns green.

    1. Hi Emma, you could try adding come titanium dioxide (icing whitener) or white gel colour to your ganache, but you would need a lot of it to get a truly white ganache. The other thing you can try when you’re wanting to make blue and ending up with green is to add a tiny bit of purple, to counteract the yellow. Try it with a small batch first though, to judge the effect. Hope that helps 🙂

  12. Hi Natalie,
    I’ve been scouring the Internet looking for tips on how to colour White choc ganache & found your post (great post! nice green t-shirt).
    I had finally found the Americolor candy color that I can order in (to Ireland!) but on the product description it says “craft purposes only, not to be consumed”.

    have you heard that before?

    1. Hi Sarah, that is very strange. The only thing I can think of is that they contain colours that aren’t approved for food use in certain countries. I know that that can be the case with petal dust colours and some edible glitters, they can be approved for food use in one country but not in another. Can you show me a link to where it says that so I can check it out?

      1. sure thing, it’s at the very bottom of the description.

        http://www.thecakedecoratingcompany.co.uk/americolor-candy-colour-pink-2oz-craft-uses-only

        you are right about the food colour, but strangely enough the green colour doesn’t have the same warning?

        http://www.thecakedecoratingcompany.co.uk/americolor-candy-colour-green-2-oz

        it’s very difficult to get candy colours of any significance in Ireland so if I’m going to buy online I have to be 100% sure! I’m going to try the pro-gel mixed into the cream first and see how that works out

        1. That’s annoying! It’s frustrating when things are ok to use in some countries but not in others. I guess we’re a bit more relaxed here in NZ 😉 There are a bunch of powdered colours here that aren’t considered edible though. I have another suggestion for you if the Progel doesn’t work though, I’ve been doing a few chocolate drip cakes, and I’ve been using regular gel colours and the Americolor Flo Coat with it, which turns regular colours into candy/chocolate colours. I have still had the chocolate split a couple of times when I’ve tried to add too much colour but it works really well otherwise. I was reluctant to try it for big batches of ganache, but I will give it a go one day and report back!

  13. Hi! Your blog was fun to read! I do have a concern on ganache coloring and maybe you could enlighten me. I tried coloring my ganache using oil based color but the oil stilll separated from the chocolate.. what i did was to dilute coloring to the heated cream before adding the ganache. What might be the problem?

    1. Hi Monci, my apologies for the delayed reply, we’ve just moved house and I had no internet access. Honestly it seems that almost anything can make ganache split sometimes, even just looking at it sideways! It should have been successful with you adding the oil colouring to the cream, all I can really suggest is that next time you pay really careful attention to the temperature of the cream and chocolate when you mix, often if the cream is a bit hot it can cause the ganache to split. If you have a look at my ganache tutorial I have a few tips there on how to fix a split ganache. Hope that helps somewhat 🙂

  14. Hi Natalie,

    I’m going to try and do a white chocolate ganache tomorrow and colour it blue…..this is going to be an epic fail. I’ve never done a white chocolate ganache before and I’m going to try colour it, what the hell am I thinking!! I only have the Hansells food colour, do I need to go and buy a gel one or would this be ok? It’s for my sons 3rd birthday cake. I should have just gone for butter icing or a dark chocolate ganache but I’m trying to be all fancy and sh*t!

    Thanks so much xx

    1. Hi Barbara, haha being fancy and sh*t always ends up being a hassle! Story of my life 😉 Hansells liquid food colouring definitely won’t work in ganache, it’s water based and very watery, so you’d need a lot to get the colour and that much extra water will cause the ganache to split. You’ll definitely have better luck with a gel colouring, if you don’t have a cake decorating shop nearby to get Americolor gel you could try the Queen gel colour which is available in supermarkets. I can’t make guarantees because clearly I can split ganache purely by looking at it, but you’ll have a better shot with the gel colour than liquid. And if the ganache fails then the gel will give you a spectacularly blue last-minute-emergency buttercream icing 😛 Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks for your prompt reply. I love being in a small rural South Island town with no shops and last minute prepping. Our local new world doesn’t stock gel colours only the Hansells and the nearest cake shop is an hour drive away. Looks like white chocolate ganache is it. Probably a good thing…now is probably not the time to be trying new things. Thanks for your help 🙂

        1. Ahhh, nothing like living out in the wops to ruin cake plans. Lucky that being rural has other perks, right? 😉 Hope the cake goes well! 🙂

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  16. Hi,

    I have only ever attempted white chovolate ganache. I use Lindt chocolate, 450g and 200g ( yes grams as I weight it out) of double cream. I hear the double cream then add it into the chocolate and it has never split. I use the progel colours to colour it and it’s looks good. I did use nestle white chocolate the first one and it was a massive disaster. X

  17. Just made some yesterday. I use white compound, add gel color to the cream and it works fine. Tip is to use a hand blender to mix it (the one used for soups etc) and strain it once to remove the lumps

  18. I’ve always used a compound / cooking / melt chocolate and have never had a problem with it splitting. I also mixed a gel color in last week after making the ganache and it worked perfectly.

  19. HI. I would really love to make my ganache a really bright turquoise. What colours do I need to do that? Have already coloured it with turquoisnbut it just isn’t vibrant enough. I used americolor gel. Thanking you in advance. Susan

    1. Hi Susan, if the colour isn’t vibrant enough I would suggest adding some bright or sky blue (the Americolor Electric blue would be good if you have it). The white chocolate tends to make the ganache slightly yellow, so the added blue should offset that. Hopefully that will help! 🙂

  20. Hi Natalie,
    I want to make a milk chocolate ganache but colour it black, should an oil based colour made for chocolate and candy work?
    If anyone has any suggestions on how to best make this work they would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Terri, yes an oil-based candy colouring is your best bet, it lessens the chance that the ganache will split 🙂

  21. Hey Natalie, if you make any ganache by putting the choc in the cuisinart, chop it super fine, then pour in boiling cream. I have never had it seize EVER!!
    Karen

    1. That’s a great tip, thank you Karen! I only have a gutless food processor that refuses to chop chocolate, but maybe it’s a good excuse to prioritise getting a Cuisinart ?

  22. Such an informative post. I am still experimenting with white ganache, and a lot of famous bloggers actually use compound chocolate (like Nestle melts) in their recipes/tutorials, but they sometime don’t disclose that in recipes or videos which is kind of annoying. The famous Guittard Apeels (no cocoa butter), the Nestle Melts (no cocoa butter), the Ghirardelli white chips (no cocoa butter).

    I love that you reveal what products you use. I am currently using Ghirardelli white chips, which splits on me every single time. I know chips should not be used to make ganache but that’s the only thing that I can afford right now. What I have learned so far (I am using the 3:1 ratio initially) :

    1. Immersion blender + a couple tbsps of warm milk might save it, but I really don’t like dealing with all that waste left on blender, bowl, blending cup, etc. I also do not find the texture being thinned a bit is a problem.

    2. Ghirardelli white chips do not contain cocoa butter anyway, and is very difficult to melt. I honestly cannot justify using such no cocoa butter chips over a good compound chocolate anymore.

    3. I haven’t tried Ghirardelli white bars, which contains cocoa butter. Maybe that would work better? Although it means I need to spend $30 on one batch of ganache to cover a 6 inch cake, also chopping chocolate bars is the worst … all that mess.

    4. Compound chocolate (which to me is not real chocolate) can taste good & be expensive, like Guittard Apeels white chocolate.

    5. I just found a website called OliveNation and they sell Callebaut white chunks with a reasonable price (the lowest I could find online). Going to try that and let you know how it goes!

    Again, thank you for posting something so informative. We have many bloggers sharing how they success, yet too few sharing how they fail & fix things.

  23. Hi Natalie! My name is Coralin.
    I just saw your tutorial on Pinterest, very cool BTW! lol
    I have only done chocolate ganashe. To color your ganash, do you use three parts of choco and one part cream or do you changed the recipe for three parts and three parts for the color ganash? I am confused.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Coralin. When I do white chocolate ganache I usually use a 3:1 ratio of choc to cream, unless it is warm weather in which case I do 4:1. And I make it the same whether I’m adding colour or not 🙂 Since writing this post I have had pretty good results by adding the colour to the cream after it’s heated, and then adding the chocolate. I like to use oil colours, but gel colours work pretty well too. For more ganache tips, I suggest checking out my ganache tutorial. Hope that helps! x