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.
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.
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.
(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…
Here are the all samples side by side (or in a line, whatever, don’t be picky)
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.
I should say ‘possibly’ won’t screw it up, because to be honest, I could screw up something that was ‘foolproof’.
Do you colour your white chocolate ganache? Any wonderful (foolproof or not) tips I should know?