The word ganache means "cushion" in French, notes author Harold McGee in his book "On Food and Cooking." A ganache has a soft texture and can almost melt in the mouth. The mixture is a combination of a type of chocolate with a type of cream and has a number of uses in sweet making. If you can't stomach the traditional type of ganache, you have some substitution options.
You can use ganache in several different ways, depending on the method you use to prepare it. Firmer styles of ganache contain twice as much chocolate as cream and are used to make candies such as truffles. Softer styles have equal amounts of cream and chocolate. A common use for a softer style of ganache is as a frosting for cake or as a filling in macaroons. You can also add flavors, such as vanilla, mint or almond, to a ganache.
If you can't eat dairy products due to lactose intolerance or because of a vegan diet, you can still enjoy a version of ganache. Choose a dark chocolate that is dairy-free and a type of dairy-free milk, such as soy milk, almond or coconut milk. Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of "The Cake Bible," tested different types of nondairy milk when making ganache. She found a soy milk substitute resulted in a lighter-colored ganache and that more soy milk than chocolate was needed to make a ganache that worked as a frosting.
You don't have to use a dark chocolate or milk chocolate when making ganache. If you aren't a fan of regular chocolate, try substituting white chocolate for dark. Substitute an equal amount of white chocolate in the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for 10 ounces of dark chocolate, use 10 ounces of white chocolate. Using white chocolate gives you some room to play around with the color of the ganache, too. You can add food coloring to dye the ganache.
You can substitute a chocolate buttercream frosting for chocolate ganache if you are making a cake. Buttercream recipes vary, but the classic ingredients are butter and powdered sugar. Some also call for shortening as well as butter to give the frosting more body. You use less chocolate when you make buttercream, so the frosting has a less intense taste, which might be better if you are making a birthday cake for a younger child or for someone who doesn't want a strong chocolate flavor.
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