Question: What is Chocolate Ganache?
Answer: We are often asked what a chocolate ganache is. Many people have never heard of ganache, let alone chocolate ganache. So what is chocolate ganache, and just what can you do with it?
Chocolate ganache is a smooth blend of chocolate and cream; butter is frequently added to this mixture, as well. Chocolate ganache has multiple uses. In its liquid state, chocolate ganache can be poured over cakes or pastries, and it will set up into a glaze. In a somewhat firmer state, it can be beaten and used to fill and frost cakes and pastries; this type of ganache is called ganache beurre or ganache soufflé. Ganache can be used as a center for a bonbon or filled chocolate. A sufficiently firm chocolate ganache (one that contains a higher ratio of chocolate to cream) can be formed into balls and dipped in chocolate and/or rolled in cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts, or another coating to produce a truffle. Any kind of chocolate (dark, milk, or white) can be used to make a ganache, and ganache is often flavored with anything from liqueur to citrus zest.
Chocolate Ganache: Icing, Glaze, or Filling
(adapted from A Piece of Cake by Susan G. Purdy)
Ganache, here consisting of melted chocolate, heavy cream, and flavoring, is a versatile mixture. The flavor is intensely chocolate (less sweet than buttercream), and its texture is silky smooth. When warm, ganache flows like cream and can be poured over a cake as a glaze; it will set with a dark color and high gloss but remain fudge-like under the surface. At room temperature, it can be whipped until fluffy and light-colored (ganache soufflé), then spread as a filling and icing on cakes. It can also be piped through a pastry bag to make decorations.
Yield: About 2-1/3 cups before whipping. As a glaze, makes enough for two 9-inch 2-layer cakes. When whipped, makes enough to fill three 9-inch layers or to fill and frost a 2-layer 8-inch cake. If using the ganache only as a filling between two layers, make half the recipe.
- 8 ounces best-quality (AMANO) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (you can include some milk chocolate as part of the 8 ounce total if you want a sweeter ganache)
- 1 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 tablespoons liqueur (coffee, fruit or nut flavor, or rum or brandy) OR 1 teaspoon vanilla or other extract (Note: For Mocha Ganache, use 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water or 3 tablespoons coffee liqueur; for Raspberry Ganache, use 3 tablespoons Chambord liqueur)
Optional for glaze only: 1-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup, to ensure smoothness
Combine chocolate and cream in top pan of double boiler set over (not in) hot water on low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and hot water; carefully dry top pan of double boiler with dish towel. Stir ganache to blend well. Stir in liqueur and optional corn syrup.
To use the ganache as a dark chocolate glaze, let cool until it is barely lukewarm, then pour generously over a cake set on a rack over a tray. Tilt the cake to help the glaze flow.
To use the ganache as a spreadable filling or icing, set the bowl of ganache in a larger bowl of ice water (if the bowl of ganache is tippy, set it on a ring made from a tea towel). With a hand-held mixer, beat the ganache until it is cool, lighter in color, nearly double in volume, and has become thick and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. At this stage, it should be of spreading consistency. If necessary, adjust the consistency by adding more cream to soften it or chilling it to harden. When you first apply whipped ganache to a cake’s surface, you will see a lot of air bubbles. As you work the ganache with the icing spatula as you apply it, the bubbles disappear and the texture smooths out.
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
Yield: About 24 truffles
For a pretty presentation, look for miniature foil or paper candy cups in your supermarket’s baking aisle or at specialty shops. For the truffle coatings, think about coconut shreds (toasted and cooled), finely chopped nuts (toasted and cooled), unsweetened cocoa powder, or even chocolate sprinkles (those made with real chocolate taste the best).
- 8 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
Assorted coatings, such as those listed above
Place chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil; pour cream over chocolate. Allow to stand 2 to 3 minutes, then whisk gently until smooth (you don’t need to beat a lot of air into this mixture). Refrigerate uncovered until somewhat firm, about 1 hour.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Spoon mounds (2 level teaspoons each) of the ganache onto the lined baking sheet; return to refrigerator for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place desired coatings in shallow bowls.
With your hands, gently roll the mounds into balls. Roll each ball in your coating of choice, covering surface completely and pressing coating in slightly. Return coated balls to lined baking sheet; chill until set, about 30 minutes.
Store truffles in refrigerator. Before eating, remove from refrigerator, place in mini foil or paper candy cups if desired, and allow to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.