Stefani Pollack of Cupcake Project is here with scoops of advice on making a creamy chocolate delight.
Chocolate ganache is incredibly versatile. By combining just two ingredients--chocolate and heavy whipping cream--you can create cake filling, poured glaze, a spread or piped frosting, a decorative drizzle, or the base for truffles. How do two ingredients come together to make so many different things? The key is knowing the percentage of each to use and what temperature the mixture should be for your application. Here's how to make and use easy, versatile chocolate ganache.
How to Make Ganache
You'll need heavy whipping cream and chocolate to make ganache. Because there are only two ingredients in ganache, the quality of the chocolate really matters. Choose the best semisweet, bittersweet, or dark chocolate you can get your hands on. I suggest picking a chocolate that you love to eat all on its own (try to not eat it all before it goes into the ganache). If the chocolate isn't already chips or thin discs, chop it finely so it will melt easily.
No matter what ratio of chocolate to cream you are using, the basic procedure for making ganache is consistent across most recipes:
- Bring heavy whipping cream just to boil either in the microwave or on the stove (I prefer the microwave).
- Pour it over a bowl of chocolate.
- Let the cream sit on the chocolate for a minute.
- Stir the ganache until the cream and the chocolate are fully combined.
Chocolate to Cream Ratio
As I mentioned above, the ratio of chocolate to cream is very important. I present three options below, but you can use these as loose guidelines and experiment to find a ratio that works best for you.
1. Equal Parts Chocolate and Cream
One of the most popular ways to make ganache is to use equal parts chocolate and cream. While still warm, this ganache is pourable and can be used to drizzle chocolate ribbons or to glaze cookies, cupcakes, or cakes. It can even be used as a cake filling. As it starts to cool, it thickens and takes on more of a spreadable consistency. At room temperature (after it sits in a covered bowl on the counter for 1-2 hours), the texture is like brownie batter and the ganache can be rolled into balls for truffles or whipped at high speed to make a light, airy chocolate frosting.
2. Two Parts Chocolate to One Part Cream
Increasing the percentage of chocolate makes for a much thicker ganache. Ganache that is two parts chocolate to one part cream is a typical ratio for truffles. Although you can make truffles with a 1:1 ratio (as shown above), the 2:1 truffles will have a more fudgey consistency. This ganache can also be used as a glaze or piped frosting, as shown above. The glaze will have the consistency of the top of a Hostess cupcake (of course, it will taste much better!). The 2:1 piped frosting is one of my favorites - it is intensely chocolaty!
3. Two Parts Cream to One Part Chocolate
A ganache with more cream than chocolate is very runny (like a soup) when warm and mousse-like at room temperature. While warm, this type of ganache can be poured over a cake to give it a beautiful chocolate glaze. Be sure to put something under the cake while you pour because the ganache will drip. It's too thin for a truffle, but if you chill it first, you can whip it to create a pipeable frosting that tastes like chocolate whipped cream.
Here's how the three different types of ganache look after they have cooled in a bowl for two hours. The two parts cream ganache looks just like caramel in this photo, but I assure you that it's made with the same bittersweet chocolate as the other ganaches! If any of the warm ganache varieties are poured on cupcakes, cakes, or cookies, they will look smooth and shiny when they cool - the difference will just be in the thickness of the chocolate.
Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate Ganache
Because there is a higher fat content in milk and white chocolate than in semisweet, bittersweet, or dark chocolate, use a higher percentage of chocolate to cream than you otherwise would for the thickness of ganache that you would like. For example, instead of a 2:1 chocolate to cream ratio, I suggest a 3:1 chocolate to cream ratio.
If you want to add other flavors to your ganache, you can mix in extracts, flavoring oils, or alcohol to the warm ganache. You can also add flavor by steeping the cream in tea or herbs and straining before heating and pouring over the chopped chocolate. Melting a little butter with the heavy whipping cream can give a richer flavor and add a little more shine to the finished product.
In general, ganache can be kept at room temperature for two days; the sugar in chocolate keeps bacteria from growing. However, storage suggestions vary based on the percentage of cream you are using. I tend to refrigerate my ganache that's made with twice as much cream to chocolate just to be on the safe side. I've been told that ganache can last in the refrigerator for a month, but it's never lasted that long at my house.
Try Out Your New Ganache Skills
Here are some fun recipe ideas that use ganache:
Eclair Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Shortbread Thumbprints with Bittersweet Ganache
French Peppermint Cookies with Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Orange Truffles
Photographs by Stephani Pollack
Get tips to make molded chocolates at home.