It sounds French and fancy but there might not be anything simpler or more versatile to make than chocolate ganache. It should be a staple in every baker’s kitchen. You can use it for dipping, drizzling, icing, frosting, glazing, even making truffles. Chocolate ganache is simply chocolate and cream blended together. It’s almost foolproof and with just those two ingredients you can have it mostly made in the time it takes to hard boil an egg. If it is so easy and foolproof than why do so many people struggle with making this delectable treat?
Maybe its simplicity and versatility is also its greatest weakness. What type of chocolate? How much cream? How to melt it? How to finish it?
I’ve got some tips and tricks to help you master a chocolate ganache for any dessert occasion.
How to make it
A mixture of chocolate and cream, melted together, the simplest recipe is 8 ounces chopped chocolate whisked with 8 ounces hot heavy cream until combined and shiny. When combined and warm this ganache will be easily pour-able, and will be very soft when set and cooled. If you need a thicker ganache add more chocolate when melting.
You don’t actually need to boil or even simmer the cream to make ganache. The cream simply needs to be hot enough to melt the chocolate. To help this happen more quickly and easily, chop the chocolate very finely before combining it with the hot cream then let the mixture sit for a few minutes before stirring.
Getting the ratio right
My preference is to use bittersweet chocolate with higher cocoa percentage (70% to 72%) will make a rich, not-too-sweet ganache. If you find this is too bitter for you or your recipe, you can sweeten the ganache by adding a little sugar. Start with half a tablespoon add to the warm ganache and go slowly. The sugar will be liquid when melted and will alter the consistency of the finished ganache.
On the other hand glazes and icings will require a thinner consistency which translates to a higher percentage of cream in the melting mixture.
Ganache changes consistency it cools. If you deem your warm ganache too thin, just wait a while; it’ll thicken up. Refrigerate it to speed up the process.
Some quick rules-of-thumb on ratios:
The easiest way to work with ratios is to measure both the cream and the chocolate by weight. If you don’t want to weigh your cream, remember that 1 cup of liquid is 8 ounces.
Layer cake filling and thick glaze: 1:1, equal parts chocolate and cream.
To whip the ganache for frosting or for layer cake filling, cool the ganache until it is thick, but still soft, and then beat in a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer, until the ganache is fluffy and has lightened in color, about 1 or 2 minutes.
Chocolate truffles: 2:1, two parts chocolate to one part cream.
Soft icing and pour-able glaze: 1:2, one part chocolate to two parts cream
Tips and Tricks
The finer you chop the chocolate, the quicker it melts with the cream. If the chocolate is in large large chunks, it won’t fully melt. I like using a big serrated knife to break down the bars into thin slivers.
I prefer using baking bars and chocolate chips only in a pinch. Chips typically have anti-emulsifiers in them that make them more difficult to melt and when they do I often find the texture gritty and grainy.
After you pour the warm heavy cream over the chopped chocolate, let it sit for a few minutes to soften and make the stirring easier.
To add some easy gourmet flair to your ganache, steep fresh herbs or spices right in the milk and then strain them out before pouring it over the chocolate. Mint leaves work really well for this.
Ganache can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It will obviously become a lot stiffer when cold. To soften it, allow it to come to room temperature or heat it in short bursts in the microwave or over a double boiler.
3 problems you could encounter and how to fix each.
Chocolate Isn’t Melting If the chocolate isn’t melting, it wasn’t chopped fine enough or the cream wasn’t warm enough. Chop the chocolate into very small pieces and warm the cream until it’s just simmering. Place the combined mixture over a small saucepan of simmering water. Do not let the surface of the simmering water touch the bottom of the glass bowl. Stir the ganache constantly over the indirect heat until it’s smooth.
Chocolate Seized: Seized chocolate will not melt. Chocolate seizes when it comes into contact with water. Don’t let even a drop of water into the bowl.
Greasy or Grainy: Use real chocolate; cheap chocolate chips result in a grainy ganache. Use a spoon or small rubber spatula to stir the chocolate and warm cream together. Do not use a whisk. The whisk incorporates too much air into the delicate melting chocolate, which could cause the fat to separate and turn greasy.
Don’t be afraid of ganache and don’t overcomplicate this simple and delicious finishing touch. Get the best quality bittersweet chocolate and the best quality cream you can afford. Chop the chocolate up and combine it with the warm cream. In less than five minutes you’ll have a versatile chocolate topping to take any dessert to the next level.