Ganache is a mixture that is a staple in many pastry kitchens. It is a smooth creamy blend of chocolate and cream that can be deliciously used in many ways like glazing cakes, spreading onto cupcakes, and filling truffles. But what is ganache, and how do you make it, exactly?
That’s what we’ll take up in this blog.
* Note: This article was originally published on May 16, 2018. It’s been updated today, March 21, 2023.
Ganache: what is it?
As mentioned above, ganache is a combination of cream and chocolate that can be used inside and outside various bakes. If you see chocolate icing in your favorite cakes and pastries, that’s it!
Where is ganache from, you ask? According to Bakepedia, the origin is somewhat of a murky story. For instance, the Swiss say they have been using it for hundreds of years.
On the other hand, the French are saying that they’re the ones that invented it back in 1850. Apparently, it was during an accident: a chocolatier’s apprentice spilled hot cream over melting chocolate. Other stories say it was water that was poured over chocolate.
His boss, so angry, called him “un ganache”, a French colloquial term for “idiot” or “fool.” Of course, after the chocolatier tasted it, he realized that a new recipe was born!
(On a side note, there are so many delicious and happy accidents in the world of baking, like Torta Caprese. It also happens to be a chocolate cake. But I digress!)
Whatever the source of ganache, I think we’d all agree that we’re happy that it’s around. In fact, this mistake is something that we’d like to repeat over and over!
How To Use Ganache
How versatile is ganache, you ask? Well, here are some of the ways you can use ganache:
- As a cake frosting: Spread chocolate ganache frosting over a cake to create a rich and decadent frosting.
- As a flavoring for truffles: Roll ganache into small balls and coat them in cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or sprinkles to make delicious truffles.
- As a glaze: Heat the ganache, then pour the warm chocolate over cakes, pastries, or ice cream for a glossy finish. An example of a class where you can do this is Chef Ely Salar’s Basic Chocolate Mirror Glazed Cake!
- As a glaze filling: Fill macarons, cupcakes, or other baked goods with it and enjoy!
- As a topping: Spread it over brownies, cheesecake, or other desserts for a delicious and luxurious topping.
- As hot chocolate: Melting chocolate ganache into hot milk results in some rich and indulgent hot chocolate. It’s perfect for some dessert!
- As ice cream topping: Make ice cream even better with some chocolate! Enough said.
- As fondue: Melt ganache in a fondue pot and dip fruit, marshmallows, or other treats for a luxurious dessert.
Ganache: How to Make It
How to make ganache, you ask? Well, you can choose any chocolate ganache recipe to use, and you’ll likely get successful results. After all, it is made of only two ingredients: cream and chocolate.
The chocolate can be any of the different types of chocolate: semisweet chocolate, dark chocolate, creamy chocolate, and even white chocolate. If you’re using a whole chocolate bar, make sure to chop your chocolate to make the process easier. If you’re using chocolate chips, make them smaller before proceeding.
Start by heating the cream, then pouring it over your chopped chocolate. Combine the two until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is fully incorporated into the hot cream. If you don’t do this correctly, you’ll end up with grainy ganache, where the chocolate hasn’t melted properly in contact with the cream. It might be because the chocolate isn’t small enough or the hot cream isn’t, well, hot enough.
Now, do take note that two are the same. That’s because there are many factors that can affect ganache quality, such as:
Ganache that you will use as a filling for cream puffs or as a glossy cover for a chocolate cake is different from one another. And to achieve the difference, you have to measure your ingredients and come up with the correct ratio of cream to chocolate. A liquid measuring cup is your best friend for this procedure.
Here are some ratios to remember:
- For a stiffer but still moldable ganache that you’re going to use for a layer cake filling and a thick glaze, use a 1:1 ratio of chocolate to cream.
- For a ganache with a solid consistency that’s perfect for making a chocolate truffle of two, use a 2:1 ratio of chocolate to cream.
- If you plan to make cake icings or pourable glazes, a 1:2 ratio of chocolate and cream is what you need. These are your basic requirements for the ganache consistency you are looking for.
- For ganache under fondant, a 4:1 ratio is advisable or 5:1 during the summer months.
Certain flourishes like butter to add shine and smoothness to your ganache or adding some other spices or liqueurs to have depth of flavor won’t ruin your result as long as you follow the basic ratio and proportions.
Understanding the reactions involved when applying heat to the cream and the chocolate will ensure you achieve great-looking ganache. Chocolate and its different forms such as milk, dark and white have different melting points due to its cacao butter content. But as mentioned above, chopping the chocolate and making them uniform will make the chocolate easier to melt–and for you to have a smoother ganache-making experience.
If you’re not in the mood to chop the chocolate, you can simply purchase chocolate nubs. These are easier to melt.
As for the cream, when you heat the cream, don’t settle for just medium heat. The warmed cream has to reach almost boiling point so that it melts the chocolate and you get the desired results. Let the heat of the cream spread thru the chocolate before mixing it.
The Kind of Chocolate You’ll Use
Different kinds of chocolate mean slightly different procedures, depending on the type of chocolate you use.
- Dark chocolate – This type of chocolate is the easiest to work with to achieve a dark chocolate ganache. The recommended ratio is 2:1 (chocolate/cream). This is perfect for your chocolate cake, lava cake, or if you’re using the ganache for a filling. Curvature chocolate is usually what bakers choose due to its high cocoa butter content but compound chocolate also works well but is reserved more for fillings or for creating a ganache layered cake.
- White chocolate – How to make a white ganache, you ask? Use white chocolate! Due to its high oil content, you need more chocolate to be able to produce the right amount of consistency for your white chocolate ganache. A 3:1 (chocolate/cream) ratio is recommended for this type of chocolate.
- Milk chocolate – Milk chocolate already has milk in it. That means it’s best to start with a 1:1 ratio and slowly add either cream or milk chocolate to produce your desired results. Take note that due to the thousands of varieties of milk chocolate in the market, choosing reputable chocolatiers that make high-quality milk chocolate for your recipes is advisable.
The type of chocolate isn’t the only thing that matters; the type of cream is important as well. Using a heavy cream with a high-fat content (around 36%-40%) is recommended. That’s because you’ll get a richer and more stable ganache.
Of course, if you want to use a different kind of cream such as creme fraiche or sour cream, you can! Both have been used before to produce different flavors and consistencies.
And if you’re the daring kind and want to impress people, you can also try making some WITHOUT cream. You can look for various recipes that use beer, coconut milk, pureed fruits, and other things as the base. If you succeed, your creation will definitely stand out!
Storing Your Ganache
Since a ganache is emulsification of cream and chocolate, you should put plastic wrap on your ganache when storing it. This is so that a film won’t form on top of your ganache or form a sugar crust.
It won’t go bad at room temperature for at least two days, but ensure it’s in a cool and dry place. If you want it to last longer, refrigeration is the key to making it last for two months. But if you want to make it last for three months, freeze it.
Will the ganache harden while in the freezer? Sure, but all you need to do once you’re going to use it again is to let it rest at room temperature.
Ganache is a mixture of chocolate and cream that can be used for various purposes in baking. Its origin is unclear, but we’re just happy that ganache is around to make already delicious pastries and desserts even better! To recap what we learned in this article:
- Ganache is versatile and can be used as a frosting, flavoring for truffles, glaze, filling, topping, hot chocolate, ice cream topping, and fondue.
- The ratio of chocolate to cream varies depending on the intended use.
- The temperature of the cream and chocolate mixture is crucial in ensuring the ganache turns out smooth and not grainy.
- Adding butter or other flavors won’t ruin the ganache as long as the basic ratio and proportions are followed.
- Ganache can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or frozen for up to a month.
Interested in making some for use in your favorite sweet treats? Sign up at The Bailiwick Academy today and choose from a wide variety of our baking classes. You won’t go wrong with any of them–that’s a guarantee!
Keep coming back to The Bailiwick Academy blog for more kitchen tips, tricks, and much more!