When we were trying out the new Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Breakfast Ovals, I immediately thought, these delicious snacks could be next level if dipped in ganache! So I did it, and they were. But then I realized I’ve never posted my classic dairy-free chocolate ganache recipe! It’s a rich, drizzly chocolate that can also be whipped up as a rich, fluffy frosting. I’ve included both variations below, plus ingredient options and tips.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Ganache 101
This is one of those rare recipes that can vary quite a bit based on the ingredients you use. The type of chocolate drives the overall flavor, and both the chocolate and coconut milk or coconut cream determine the thickness.
Coconut Milk / Coconut Cream
Most chocolate ganache recipes use heavy cream. The amount of fat in heavy cream is regulated, so people get pretty consistent results when using it. But canned coconut milk and coconut cream brands can vary quite a bit. Some are pure, some have thickeners. Some turn into a dense cream when chilled, while some remain pretty much liquid. And the variations aren’t just by brand. I’ve found that the same brands can even vary by batch!
This recipe for dairy-free chocolate ganache will work fine with both thick coconut cream and thin coconut milk, but a nice rich coconut milk that sets up with a good amount of fat is ideal. If your chocolate ganache ends up too thick or too thin, just use the basic troubleshooting tips below.
Do not use coconut milk beverage in the main recipe. You want to use full-fat canned coconut milk or coconut cream. If using a “beverage” (the drinkable type sold in larger cartons), use the Coconut Milk Alternative option in the notes of the recipe.
Classic ganache is made with dark chocolate, but this can range from semisweet to a rich bittersweet. Just keep in mind that the base recipe has no sweetener added. So the sweetness of your chocolate will determine the overall depth of the flavor. And the type of chocolate also affects the consistency.
The darker your chocolate is, the thinner it will melt, but the thicker it will set up once whipped. So think about both the taste and consistency you want for your ganache when choosing your dairy-free chocolate. A dark chocolate ganache will be quite drizzly when warm, but will whip up to a slightly stiffer frosting. A semisweet ganache will be just a little thicker warm, and will set up just a little softer as a frosting. And a dairy-free “milk” chocolate ganache will be the richest in consistency, but thicker warm and softer as a frosting.
I often use a semisweet chocolate like Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips. They are small, so they melt readily, and they lend a little sweetness.
Classic chocolate ganache is just chocolate and cream. But I like to add vanilla extract or vanilla paste to dairy-free chocolate ganache to help balance the flavors. Vanilla mellows the flavor nuances of coconut milk and other dairy alternatives. But you can use other flavorings, if you like. You might opt for a tablespoon of espresso, dark rum, or a liqueur. Of you can use a different extract, like almond, orange, or peppermint. If using a different extract, start with just ¼ teaspoon and add more to taste. Many extracts are much stronger than vanilla.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Ganache Options & Troubleshooting
As mentioned, despite its simplicity, dairy-free chocolate ganache can vary quite a bit based on the ingredients. But you can easily fine tune it to achieve your perfect taste and texture.
My Dairy-Free Chocolate Ganache is too Thick or Thin. How Can I Fix It?
- Liquid Ganache is Too Thick: Whisk in a little more coconut milk or coconut cream, as desired.
- Liquid Ganache is Too Thin: Whisk in a little more chocolate (preferably semisweet). If needed to melt the additional chocolate, place it in the microwave for 10 seconds, and then whisk.
- Whipped Ganache is Too Thick: Whip in more coconut milk or coconut cream, as desired, or even whip in just a splash of water.
- Whipped Ganache is Too Soft: Re-warm the ganache, and melt in a little more chocolate. If you don’t have time for this process, simply whip in a little shortening or solid dairy-free butter alternative. If you’d like some added sweetness, powdered sugar will also help to thicken the dairy-free chocolate ganache.
My Chocolate Didn’t Melt. What Now?
Simply place the cream and chocolate mixture in the microwave for 15 seconds, and then whisk vigorously. If it still isn’t melting, repeat this process.
My Ganache is Really Thick, a Little Grainy, and/or Separated. What Happened?
When it gets too hot, chocolate seizes. It’s a rare problem with this type of recipe, where the chocolate is melted in the liquid, but it can happen. To fix it, simply whisk in a little more hot coconut milk or coconut cream, as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the seizing caused any burnt taste, you can whip in a little powdered sugar to offset it with some sweetness.
It’s Too Bitter! How Can I Fix It?
Simply blend in some powdered sugar, to taste! This will turn it into more of a semisweet dairy-free chocolate ganache. If you just want to soften the flavor, blend in a touch of maple syrup or corn syrup.
Can I Make a Coconut-Free Chocolate Ganache?
I do have a coconut milk alternative option in the recipe notes. That said, finding a butter alternative made without coconut can be difficult. For coconut-free, you can use 1/3 cup palm shortening (like Spectrum) plus 2/3 cup of your favorite dairy-free milk alternative in place of the coconut milk.
Will this Dairy-Free Chocolate Ganache Hold Up at Room Temperature?
For the most part, yes, it will stay solid or whipped. I took those photos over about an hour in a 76°F room, and the whipped swirls remained. The ganache was softer, but as you can see, it held up. At hot temperatures, it will wilt, like most frostings. But it is firmer than coconut whipped cream. In my photo, the ganache glaze hadn’t fully set up yet. When it does, it stays put, but is still slightly soft to the bite.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Chocolate Ganache
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, optionally paleo, vegan, and vegetarian. Just be sure to choose the chocolate that suits your dietary needs.
- 9 to 10 ounces dairy-free semisweet or dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (see Chocolate Notes below)
- 1 cup coconut cream or full-fat canned coconut milk
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl.
- Measure the coconut milk or coconut cream into a glass measuring cup.
- Heat the coconut milk or coconut cream in the microwave until it just comes to a boil, about 30 to 45 seconds.
- Whisk the vanilla into the hot coconut milk or coconut cream, and then pour it over the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.
- Let the ganache cool for a few minutes, then pour it over your cooled dessert. If you have cupcakes, you can dip the tops in the ganache instead. If it thickens too much, microwave it for a few seconds.
- The ganache will slowly set at room temperature, but if you want to speed up the process, refrigerate the dessert for 30 minutes or longer.
- For a thick ganache frosting, refrigerate the ganache for about 1 hour, then whip it with a hand mixer until fluffy and lightened in color. Spread or pipe it onto your cooled dessert.
- Store leftover ganache in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. For a pourable ganache, reheat it in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds and whisk until smooth.
Half Batch: Use ¾ cup chocolate, ½ cup coconut cream, and ¾ teaspoon vanilla. If using coconut milk or if you would like a firmer ganache, add an additional 2 tablespoons of chocolate.
Coconut Milk Alternative: Coconut milk or cream will produce the creamiest results. But if you really aren't a coconut fan, you can substitute ½ cup dairy-free butter alternative plus ½ cup milk alternative. Using a lightly salted butter alternative can add flavor, but some brands are almost a little too salty. Use one that is unsalted or just lightly salted unless you want a salted chocolate ganache.