Years ago, I was asked by my artist friend, Martha Rast, if we had any lactose free frostings. This lead to testing with unflavored soy milk and almond milk to come up with a ganache that has a slightly tangier taste compared to the standard heavy cream ganache but also has an excellent flavor and texture making ideal for the lactose intolerant or vegan. The difference between a ganache made with heavy cream and one made with almond milk or soy milk is that both milks give a lighter color more towards a dark milk chocolate. Its preparation requires the addition of a higher percentage of the almond milk to keep a creamy texture that will adhere to the cake.
1) Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium glass bowl.
2) In a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine.
3) In a 1 cup microwavable measure with a spout (or in a small saucepan, stirring often) scald the almond milk (heat it to the boiling point; small bubbles will form around the periphery).
4) With the motor running, pour the almond milk through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth. Pulse in the vanilla.
5) Press the ganache through the strainer and let it sit for 1 hour.
6) Cover it with plastic wrap and cool at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, until the mixture reaches a soft piping consistency.
This ganache keeps in an airtight container for 5 days at cool room temperature, 2 weeks refrigerated, and 6 months frozen.
To restore to frosting consistency, defrost if frozen and reheat in a microwave with 3 second bursts, or in a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water, stirring gently to ensure that it does not overheat or incorporate any air.
Note: You can substitute unflavored soy milk for the almond milk on a 1 to 1 basis either by weight or by volume. It will have a slightly more tangy taste.
Woody's Almond Milk Ganache is in The Baking Bible as an alternative ganache for the Chocolate Ganache Tartlets.