Hello Everybody, I'm doing an internship at a manufacturing factory(retail) (long story short, that's the only option available for me in this part of the planet, south-east Asia). This place is not for artisans, but I had to take it in order to be as close as I could with chocolates. I'm soon travelling for a better offer.
Today was my first day and I've been given an assignment to come up with a recipe for "ganache filled chocolates with a long shelf life". Something that could be sold for retail and with a shelf life of atleast 6 months. It can be nut based, fruit based, flavor, cream, just anything.
I have tasted some very basic ganache filled chocolates that are sold retail by places like "harry&david" and retail giants like "ferrero" and "ghirardelli" but I have not given a thought on what makes them stay longer on the shelf. Any hints?
- do coconut oil or any oil based ganache stay longer?
- do water based ganaches have a long shelf-life?
- does adding invert sugar alone help?
- will adding lecithin in a cream based ganache improve shelf-life?
- do sodium bicarb or ammonium carb play a role?
- any other hints?
I'm feeling a little disappointed for the kind of first assignment I've got but I'm interested in knowing anything about the behavior of chocolate and that's keeping me going. And I would really appreciate any help I could get.
Boy, they have given you quite the assignment for your first day! Actually, they have given you some contradicting guidelines. They mention that they want a ganache center but then go on to say you can use 'anything'. If they want a shelf life of 6 months, then a traditional ganache is out of the question. You can add invert sugar to reduce water activity, use lecithin to ensure good emulsification between the fat and water in your ganache - those will help - but there's no way that will give you a 6 month shelf life.
A ganache is essentially an emulsion (water in fat). You can squeeze out a longer shelf life by focusing on some key points. But it will get you a 6 week shelf life - not a 6 month shelf life! If that's the route they want to take you can:
1) Maintain conditions so that you are starting out with minimal microbial contamination. Eg. Cleanliness, good storage conditions, boil cream that is infused with spices, herbs, etc.
2) Reduce available water. This can be done by adding ingredients in a ganache recipe that will bond with water to make it unavailable to microbes. Most deterioration is caused by free water.
3) Make sure your ganache is well emulsified (you can use physical means and additions such as lecithin).
4) Lower the pH of your ganache.
5) Maintain low oxygen levels (make your ganache under vacuum, ensure a coating that is thick enough and is stucurally sound to limit oxygen).
...and other things such as the addition of alcohol, candying etc...
If they really want a filling with a 6 month shelf life then you need to look at something with very low water activity. Your first idea of an oil based 'ganache' (it isn't really a ganache but that's neither here nor there!) is a good one. Also look into nut based fillings such a gianduja (don't use butter in these fillings - rather use butter oil), and caramel based fillings or marzipan.
I have never looked into trying to maintain such a long shelf life so can't help with details. Let us know how it works out and what you learn.