Alright, my friends, it’s time to talk chocolate ganache! When you hear “ganache,” what do you think? Chocolate, stew (that’s goulash!), or an extremely confident sense of style and flair (panache, people, panache!)? Most people think of pourable glazes on cakes and donuts, but chocolate ganache is soooo much more versatile and I’m going to show you how. As far as ingredients go, all you need is chocolate and cream… easy right?? The secret to ganache success is in the ratio, temperature, and quality of the ingredients. From dripping down the side of your favorite cake to a light and fluffy whipped frosting, the possibilities are endless. Here are a just a few of the ways I use ganache:
- As a glaze: for cakes, donuts, bars, brownies, croissants, cookies, you name it!
- As a filling: the center of truffles, between layers in a cake, or the surprise center of a cupcake, just to name a few.
- As a whipped topping: used to top cupcakes, cakes, or for decorative details.
- As a “buttercream” style frosting: adding softened butter and powdered sugar creates a sinful frosting!
- As the icing under fondant for crisp sharp edges: I’ve seen a lot of cakes covered in ganache lately, what a great medium!
In addition to having a ton of options on how to use your ganache, there are also countless ways to change the flavor. Ganache is typically made with bittersweet or semisweet chocolate but can also be made with milk, dark, or white chocolate and then combined with various extracts, liquors, spices and seedless jams to create unique combinations such as Strawberries & Cream (white chocolate/strawberry extract or jam) or Dark Chocolate Spiced Rum (I’m drooling). I mean… who cares what kind of chocolate you use… its chocolate – yum!! Jams and other liquids can make your ganache runny so its best to only add a small amount or to add them to the boiled cream mixture that we’ll talk about later so the flavor steeps. I recently made Oreo cupcakes and used a dark chocolate whipped ganache mixed with a little bit of homemade vanilla extract and marshmallow crème… the combo was fabulous! Check these babies out:
Let’s discuss quality first. When it comes to chocolate, you want something that you enjoy and would eat by itself. Something that screams your name from the snack cabinet or pantry until you sneak in at 1am to grab a handful and end up with chocolate smears on your pillow case. Since ganache is only two ingredients, it makes sense that the flavor you get from the chocolate is crucial to your success. We’re not all chocolate connoisseurs; what you choose doesn’t have to be top of the line and shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. That being said, don’t opt for the cheap stuff either…the “candy coating” chips you can get from craft stores for a buck are not pure chocolate and while it may be physically possible to make a ganache with them, they are overly sweet and can have a waxy consistency. Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, and Cadbury are all great, fairly inexpensive brands that are easy to find and make a wonderful ganache. If you have the cash and want to use a more expensive/high quality brand, I highly recommend Guittard, Scharffen Berger, Lindt and Callebaut. 😀 All of these brands can easily be found in larger quantities and for very decent prices on Amazon. As far as cream is concerned, the higher the fat content, the better the end result. All creams contain at least 18% fat, but for ganache we want to stick with at least a whipping cream (30%) but ideally a heavy cream (also called a heavy whipping cream, with approximately 36%).
Onward, to ratios! For thinner consistency glazes and fillings a ratio of 1:1 (1 part chocolate to 1 part cream) is best. For truffles, thicker fillings, and to frost a cake with sharp edges a 2:1 ratio (chocolate:cream) works very well. This set of ratios works for semisweet, bittersweet, milk and dark chocolates, but white chocolate can be tricky. White chocolate is a chocolate derivative, as it does not contain any cocoa solids like other kinds of chocolate, so its use can result in a ganache that is too thin; its best to use the 2:1 ratio from the start when using white chocolate. These are more traditional ratios, but don’t let that stop you from experimenting and making the recipe your own. If you want a thinner drizzle, add more cream! Sometimes I prefer a thicker glaze and add a tiny bit more chocolate to the mix; for example, the glaze I used on my super addicting Chocolate Cookie Dough Cake (shown below) has an extra handful of chocolate chips in it…shhh our secret. 😉
So let’s start making ganache! First step, get all of your ingredients measured and ready to go. Get your chocolate chopped if not already in chip form and into a heat safe bowl and start heating your cream on the stove. If you’re including vanilla beans, extract, spices, or jam, add these to your cream mixture to get the most flavor from these items. We want our cream mixture to jusssttt come to a boil, not a simmer, so that it thoroughly melts the chocolate. Once it has reached a boil, pour it over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 3-5 minutes then gently stir the mixture in a figure 8 pattern until thoroughly combined. Small amounts of corn syrup, oil, or butter can be added at this stage to increase shine, flavor, and richness. A glaze will be pourable while still warm, but letting the ganache come to room temperature and thicken is what allows us to transform it. For a whipped ganache, you would transfer your thickened, room temperature ganache to a stand mixer with a wire whisk and whip for 2-3 minutes until lightened in color and texture. Be careful not to over beat your chocolate as it can turn into a chunky mess.
Also, do not allow water anywhere near your chocolate! This can cause your chocolate to “seize,” or turn into a gritty, thick mess, which is hard to remedy. Should this happen to you, take a look at the at how to “un-seize” you chocolate!
- 8 ounces good quality chocolate, chopped or in chips
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon coffee extract (optional)
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- Place chocolate in a heat safe bowl and set aside.
- Bring cream and extracts to a boil over medium high heat and pour over chocolate. Make sure all of the chocolate is submerged.
- Let chocolate/cream sit for 3-5 minutes.
- Gently stir chocolate/cream in a figure 8 pattern until thoroughly mixed.
- Add corn syrup and stir until combined.
- Use immediately as a glaze or allow to come to room temperature for fillings.
- *For whipped ganache, beat room temperature ganache for 2-3 minutes in a stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment.
- When using white chocolate, double the amount of chocolate used.
- Ganache can be left out for 2 days at room temperature, refrigerated for several weeks, or frozen for 3 months.
- Make sure to bring the ganache to room temperature before using, either by allowing it to sit out for ~2 hours or by microwaving at half power in 10 second intervals and stirring frequently.