Chocolate Ganache is amazingly versatile in baking. It’s indulgent taste and rich velvety texture has lots of uses. Ganache can be transformed as a glaze, poured over any cake as a frosting/ icing , truffles, piped into canapes, sauce for ice cream, filling for patisserie, topping for cookies, chocolate fondue, chocolate coating, chocolate mousse, chocolate drinks and more. Usually, Ganache is made with equal proportions of cream and chocolate. But, I use little butter and/or liqueur that gives ganache a desirable shiny texture and wonderful flavor. The taste of the final product depends on the chocolate used. Hence, it is essential to use a good quality chocolate to make gorgeous ganache.
Makes 1 cup
4 oz dark baking chocolate * I used Godiva bittersweet baking chocolate. You can also use semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate. This is the ratio for dark chocolate (includes bittersweet, dark sweet, semi sweet and unsweetened). If you intend to cover a cake with ganache completely for fondant or other cake decoration, 8 oz of dark chocolate is used. 12 oz of milk and white chocolate is used.
1/2 cup Heavy cream * If you’re out of heavy cream, substitute with light cream/ half and half/ whole milk/ fruit pulps. For vegan version, use coconut cream or even soy or nut milks.
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced. *Optional. For vegan version use a neutral tasting oil
1/2 tablespoon liqueur * optional or 1/4 teaspoon of flavoring like vanilla or 1 tablespoon of freshly brewed espresso. For a child friendly version, do not use liqueur
Dark chocolate – 1 part cream : 1 or 2 parts chocolate
Milk or white chocolate – 1 part cream : 3 parts chocolate
Chop or grate the chocolate bar into small pieces. Small pieces melt better than large ones. I chopped the chocolate bar roughly. Grated chocolate is recommended. To save time, you may also use chocolate callets instead of a bar. These are not chocolate chips or morsels.
This step is optional. Set aside the butter. You can also use a neutral tasting oil like grapeseed oil or avocado oil. Adding extra fat gives a shiny texture when poured on a cake or as a fruit dip. If you’re making a ganache for other baking purpose, you can skip the butter or oil.
If you use a good quality chocolate and it tastes good by itself, you can use light cream, half and half or whole milk for a reduced fat and thinner ganache. It takes longer to set though. Avoid using bland or stale chocolate that tastes like mud. No matter what, It sure spoils the final outcome.
Heat the cream in a saucepan over low – medium heat and bring to a bare boil. Take care not to over heat the mixture. Do not boil vigorously, else the cream will split or get burnt or curdle. Remove from heat, once it starts bubbling. This mixture should be hot enough to melt the chocolate.
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Pour 1/3 rd cream over the bowl of chopped chocolate. Mix it drawing small circles to create elastic shiny kernels. Incorporate the second third and keep mixing. Add the last third. Stir gently and cover all the chocolate.
Whisk until completely mixed. Continue whisking till you get a glossy and velvety ganache. As soon as the ganache reaches a temperature of 95 F – 104 F, add the butter if using. At this point you may add the liqueur or flavor, mix well. Let it stand for about 3-5 minutes to soften the chocolate. I don’t add any additive to my ganache as I like pure chocolate.
Let it cool and settle before use. Use it immediately or store for later use. The longer it sits outside, the thicker it gets. So plan ahead it’s use. Ganache can be stored in the refrigerator for a week. This freezes well for up to 3 months.
Science behind ganache –
Ganache is an emulsion of a liquid (usually cream) and a fat (cocoa butter). It’s a blend of fatty matter and water. Technically, it’s seized chocolate. Just that, it has more liquid to form an emulsion instead of a grainy mass. When the liquid is added, the mass of chocolate thickens rapidly. This may be followed by a separation of fat and water forming a grainy texture. This is normal due to the mass being saturated in fatty matter. Whisk gently to form an emulsion. This appearance must be retained as the liquid is added in stages. A ganache must be stable, elastic and shiny.
Ways to use Ganache
To frost a cake with whipped ganache
- Put the ganache in the refrigerator for at least an hour. It’s fine to leave it overnight. The ganache has to be cold, but not hard before whipping.
- Whip until light and of pouring consistency, but not runny. Use a hand mixer for whipping as it takes a while to whisk. Whipping will aerate the ganache as well as lighten its color from dark to light brown.
- Place the cake on a cooling rack. The cake should be slightly cold. This helps the frosting to adhere better. Spread 1/2 the frosting over the center of the cake as a crumb coat.
- Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting over the top of the cake. Remove any crumbs and push the ganache with big strokes to the sides of the cake to create an even coating.
- When the sides of the cake is completely masked, smear and spread the remaining frosting. Use your spatula to make a final steady pass around the sides of the cake. Pop air bubbles if any to get an even coat.
- Remove the cake from the rack to a serving plate/cake board before the frosting thickens. If not, the frosting that drips gets attached to the rack and tears the cake when lifted. Less the ganache is spread manually, the shinier it stays. Once set, the frosting has a sheen finish.
- The frosting that dripped from the rack can be used again after straining the cake crumbs. You can use this to sandwich cookies.
- Whipped ganache can be used for torting layer cakes or as tart filling.
- Thicken ganache in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or even overnight. It is essential for the ganache to be cold before whipping.
- Using a hand mixer, whisk until fluffy and of pouring consistency. Add 2 tablespoons of warm cream to make the glaze. You may also add 1 tbsp of golden syrup (it is not corn syrup) or honey/maple syrup to get the glossy finish when poured on the cake. I do not use corn syrup in any form. So will not recommend it for this recipe.
- Place the cake on a cooling rack. The cake should be not be warm. When the ganache is warm and slightly thin, pour it over the center of the cake.
- DO NOT spread the glaze manually. Allow the glaze to drip and drizzle over the sides. Let it set. Remove the cake carefully without disturbing the dripped glaze and transfer to a serving plate/cake board. The glaze gives a mirror like finish.
- This glaze can be used to cover donuts, cookies, poured into tart shells and canape cases.
- Refrigerate the ganache for an hour or till thick. Warm it slightly over a water bath or in a microwave at short bursts.
- Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whisk till fluffy almost like whipped cream.
- Fill a pastry bag and pipe the whipped ganache over the pastry with a icing nozzle. Be creative and top the cupcakes as you like.
- Keep the prepared ganache in the refrigerator and let it cool completely. Once the ganache has cooled, scoop little balls using a melon baller or small ice cream scoop.
- Roll the truffles in cocoa powder or crushed nuts, coconut flakes as desired. This is a great way to use left over ganache.
To make chocolate sauce
- When the ganache is barely warm, pour it over ice creams as a sauce.
- If the ganache is thick, microwave it for less than a minute using short bursts. Adjust the consistency by adding a teaspoon or two of milk and give a good stir. If still thick, stick it into the microwave for few more seconds. It should have a runny consistency to use as a sauce.
To make egg free chocolate mousse
- Soften 1 cup ganache by whisking with an electric mixer. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and mix well.
- Whip 1 cup whipping cream. Fold in whipped cream into the softened ganache. The bowl and the beater should be kept cold while whipping. Chocolate mousse is ready.
- Spoon it into serving glasses. Chill before serving and garnish with whatever you like, a cherry or raspberry.
- This mousse can be used as a filling for layered cakes.
To make chocolate coating for fruits
- For fresh ganache – Make sure the ganache is not hot. It should be like a dip. If not adjust consistency by adding 2 tablespoons of cream or half and half. Stir till silky and shiny.
- For solidified ganache – Melt the ganache in a microwave for half a minute at short bursts. Stir and then heat until completely melted. Whisk gently until smooth and shiny.
- Make sure the fruit is dry without a moist surface. Dip the fruit holding its stem or using a fork. Twist the fruit to coat completely. Lift and hold to drip excess coating.
- Let it dry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper at least for 30 minutes. Alternately, place the sheet of coated fruits in the refrigerator for a quicker set.
- Suggested fruits – strawberries, cherries, pineapple chunks, apple wedges, orange segments, banana, kiwi, apricot, peaches, plum, pear slices and grapes.
- This can be used to coat pretzels, brioche, biscotti, nuts and cake balls.
To make chocolate filling
- Use 1 cup ganache and 1 cup mascarpone cheese, nut puree or nut butter.
- Beat the mixture using a paddle attachment and aerate the mixture.
- Use it on crepes or filling pastries like cream puff, croissants or pies.
To make chocolate fondue
- Melt 1 cup ganache and 1 cup condensed milk in a heat proof pan over a water bath for about 5 minutes. Stir constantly until combines well.
- Use it as a fondue for marshmallows, fruit chunks and cake cubes.
To make chocolate barks
- Heat 1 cup ganache in a microwave to make a liquid. Mix 3/4 measure of crushed nuts or dried fruits to 1 measure of melted ganache.
- Pour it in a lined square pan. Let it cool to set. Cut or break the hardened ganache.
To make chocolate shards
- Pour the ganache on to the wax or parchment paper. Use an offset spatula to spread it in a thin layer, forming a 10 x10 inch square.
- Place a second sheet of waxed paper over the chocolate square, pressing and smoothing to release most of the air bubbles.
- Roll the waxed paper tightly into a 3/4-inch-wide cylinder. Chill until set. Unroll the waxed-paper cylinder. This will break the chocolate , creating shards.
- Peel back the top layer of waxed paper. Lift the chocolate shards off the waxed paper and arrange them as needed.
To rescue broken/cracked ganache
- If your ganache is broken, grainy or oily is because the cream was not heated enough or was over heated.
- Hold a chocolate bar in your hand for a few minutes and it melts, just at normal body temperature. Chocolate melts at 93° F. Do not exceed 100° F while heating the cream.
- When it exceeds 120° F, the cream splits into fat and water. The water evaporates due to excess heat leaving behind excess fat. Ganache is an emulsion. If the fat content is more than water, you get broken and oily ganache.
- Cracked ganache can be a result of over re – heating in the microwave. Check after 15 seconds while re-heating the solidified ganache before using it.
- Rapid cooling can cause the ganache to break. Bring to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator.
- This gives time for the cream and chocolate to come together. This bonding gives a sheen finish to the ganache when poured on a cake or used otherwise.
- To fix it a freshly broken ganache, microwave it for a minute. Add a teaspoon of warm milk or warm water at a time, bit by bit. Mix well to increase the liquid content. Stop adding milk or water when the mixture is no more oily. Whisk till the fat and water comes together and forms a pourable ganache.
If this doesn’t help and you end up having a dry and dull ganache, just drop a spoon or two into hot milk to make hot chocolate. Know what, Ganache can also be devoured by itself 🙂