If you love baked goods, I’m sure you’ve already been introduced to the blanket of velvety goodness that is chocolate ganache recipe. Ganache has been used to cover nearly every sort of baked creation you can think of, because it has a luxurious sensuality that leaves people a little out of breath. It’s bedecked the crowns of cupcakes, eclairs, and even taken the lowly donut to new heights.
Ganache doesn’t harden like traditional frostings. It stay soft and supple, even after a stint in the fridge (which will indeed cause it to firm up, but not become brittle). When warm it pours easily, also unlike frosting, and can be used to create an organic-looking flow of icing that you can’t accomplish with anything else.
The thing that most baking civilians don’t realize is that – shhhhhhh! – a chocolate ganache recipe is probably one of the easiest frostings you can make, nearly as simple as the whipped cream recipe I posted a few days ago. I’ve screwed up my fair share of cooked icings, and let me tell you – even I can’t mess up ganache.
I’m posting this now because I’m going to talk about a cake next week that calls for a chocolate ganache recipe, and I want to dedicate a whole post to perfecting this lovely little recipe. It’s painfully simple to make, but as with anything else, there are a few caveats when it comes to actually using it.
For now, here’s the basic ganache recipe. Scroll down for details on how to use the stuff.
- 12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or use chips)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon of flavoring, such as espresso or bourbon (optional)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Pinch of salt
- Pour the chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) into a plastic mixing bowl.
- Over medium flame, heat the cream, milk, vanilla, and flavoring in a small saucepan to just about boiling, but don't let it actually come to a boil. You should see steam rising from the surface of the cream and bubbles forming around the edges of the pot. If you're using a thermometer, heat it to about 180°F (82°C).
- Microwave the chocolate for 15 seconds. The goal is to warm it, not melt it. So if you see the chocolate melting, remove it from the microwave.
- Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Begin whisking only in the middle of the bowl, until you begin to see thick melted chocolate flow up through the center of the cream. Then expand your whisking outward to include the edges of the bowl, and keep whisking until completely smooth. Stir in butter and salt, whisking until completely incorporated and there is no greasy layer on the surface of your ganache.
- If your ganache breaks (separates), add 1 tablespoon of warm cream and gently heat the ganache for 5 seconds in the microwave, then stir from the center outward with a whisk. Repeat heating and stirring until the ganache comes together.
- See below for frosting tips!
That’s it! I told you ganache was easy, didn’t I? You don’t even have to directly heat the chocolate, so there’s no chance of scorching or seizing it. In fact, if you’re ever made truffles, you’ve made ganache. And if you’ve never made truffles, see how easy it is?
When frosting a cake – with any type of frosting – you’ll want to create a crumb coat, which will prevent random crumbs from ruining the smooth coating on your cake:
- Place cake on a wire rack, which is placed over a piece of parchment to catch any falling ganache.
- Brush away any loose crumbs.
- With a cake spatula, spread a few tablespoons of ganache over the top and sides of cake, then refrigerate for a few minutes to set the coating.
To finish frosting your cake, pour the rest of the ganache in the center of your cake and quickly spread with a spatula. Use sweeping strokes to push the ganache over the sides and create an even layer over the whole thing. Cover any bare spots with extra icing.
Refrigerate any leftover ganache for future use, but seal it well and use it quickly as it will capture bizarre flavors in your refrigerator!
Here are a few tips (as well as a tutorial and interesting history) about making ganache by Joy of Baking:
- To make a glaze or coating: use one part cream to three parts chocolate.
- To make a truffle filling: use one part cream to two parts chocolate.
- To make a light filling: use one part cream to one part chocolate.
- Refrigerated ganache can be whipped for fillings and frostings or formed into truffles.
- When warm, it can be poured over whatever you like to make a smooth, shiny glaze.
- When chilled it can be spread like regular frosting.
- If covering a cake with ganache that is to be refrigerated, make sure the cake is cold before frosting. This will ensure that the ganache does not dull when stored in the refrigerator.