Chocolate Ganache – 4 Ways
Anytime I include chocolate ganache in a recipe, I always get lots and lots of comments in the questions. I know it’s because I’m always so vague in the instructions for making it. But the reason I’m so vague in my instructions is because my approach to ganache has always been so intuitive. It’s made of two ingredients, simple enough, so I just eyeball the amounts depending on how I want it to turn out.
The beautiful (and confusing) thing about ganache is that there are so many different ways to make it. The consistency can really be as thick or as thin as you want it to be, but that does make it a little difficult to put into an exact recipe.
But, in the spirit of sharing all my favorite basic recipes with you, I have to include a recipe for ganache. I use it ALL THE TIME. It’s gorgeous in all forms and adds elegance and decadence to just about any dessert. In fact, it’s my favorite way to cover up mistakes. It hides lumps and bumps and other ugly messes perfectly.
The trick to ganache is simply understanding how it works at different temperatures. And, really, that’s easy enough.
So let’s dig in! And I do mean with a spoon…
The two ingredients that make up a ganache are: chocolate and heavy whipping cream. You can also use flavored creamer, which opens up all sorts of fun flavor possibilities!
The ratio is always different, depending on how thick you want the ganache to be. For a thicker ganache, which would be more “spreadable,” use less cream. For a thinner ganache, like for pouring on an ice cream sundae like hot fudge, use more cream. Easy, right?
I know, some of you don’t like that. You need a specific measurement right? Otherwise the world might implode. I get it.
Which is why… I measured for you! And I found that my favorite “starting” ratio is 2 cups of chocolate to 3/4 cup of cream. As I said, that shifts a bit depending on the thickness I want. But it doesn’t change too much. Just a tablespoon or two less if I’m going thicker. And maybe as much as a 1/4 cup more if I want a thinner ganache.
And, as a general rule of thumb, microwave the mixture for no more than a minute. Then whisk it for a minute or two until smooth, shiny, and beautiful. It should make you feel like face-planting into the bowl. That’s how you know you got everything just right. :)
Also, just a note– I’m talking about “thick” versus “thin” when the ganache is at almost room temperature (which I will just be calling “room temperature, for simplicity’s sake). Heating or chilling it will change its consistency whatever the ratio of cream to chocolate you use. So, when I’m speaking in general terms, I’m always talking about room temperature. (Which, by the way, is my favorite stage of ganache to play with. But we’re getting there…)
(Almost) room temperature ganache is great for lots of reasons. But mainly, I like it because I can pour it on frosting or ice cream without it melting anything into a puddle (which is great for photographing). But it still has all the prettiness of hot fudge.
4 Different Stages of Ganache:
1) Very Thin: a very thin ganache can be achieved in one of two ways. First, by keeping the ganache warm. Or, second, by using more cream. If you’re using my original starting ratio (2 cups chocolate : 3/4 cup cream), the ganache would need to be warm to pour or drizzle. If you used more cream to make it thin, the ganache can be cooler and still pour and drizzle. This is also a great-for-fondue stage!
2) Somewhere in the Middle: excuse the nondescript title of this stage, but I don’t know what else to call it. This stage is my favorite… it’s sort of like a frosting, but not quite so thick or heavy. Here, it’s room temperature using the original starting ratio (2 cups chocolate : 3/4 cup cream). It’s like part fudge sauce, part frosting. It’s really beautiful at this stage, because you can pour it smoothly. But it’s still very controlled, even spreadable. You could pour it over a cake, but it won’t run all over the edges into a puddle at the bottom. It will “pile” nicely at the top, and allow for spreading. Does that make any sense at all? You may just have to play with it to understand. But you can trust me– it’s beautiful.
3) Chilled: a lot of people use a chilled ganache for the center of their truffles. Chilled ganache can be scooped (as pictured), rolled, and dipped in chocolate, cocoa powder, or sprinkles. As long as it stays refrigerated, it can be handled. If you’re using ganache for truffles, I’d definitely suggest making a thicker ganache to start with. Also pictured, you can make curls with chilled ganache. It’s a lot like play dough when chilled. And the curls I used in my simple chocolate mousse were simply strips of chilled ganache that I curled by hand. So easy!
4) Whipped: This is the stage I’ve worked with the least. But it’s super simple. Once the ganache has reached room temperature, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whisk the ganache until it reaches a frosting consistency, and then use it the same way you would frosting! The few times I’ve used whipped ganache, I’ve kept it refrigerated. So that’s my recommendation here. If you have other insight on whipped ganache, leave it in the comments!!
Speaking of how to store…. ganache can stay out for up to a day. Honestly, I’ve left it out longer and eaten it. And it was fine. But I’m nervous recommending that to anyone else, so I won’t say to leave it at room temperature for longer than a day. Longer than that– keep it chilled and re-heat as you need it.
I BIG, puffy, heart chocolate ganache. So give it a chance and whip up a batch today. Now. Right away! You won’t regret it.
*White chocolate has different melting properties and these ratios and instructions WILL NOT work the same way for white chocolate.
*I love using Hershey’s baking melts. But I’ve used all sorts of chocolate for ganache.
Ganache from Friends:
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Ganache is: Middle Stage, dipped warm, pictured cooled at room temperature, original starting ingredients ratio
Ganache is: Middle Stage, slightly thinned with 1-2 tbsp cream, poured on warm, pictured at room temperature
Ganache is: Middle Stage, slightly thinned with 1-2 tbsp, poured warm, pictured warm
Ganache is: Middle stage, poured lukewarm, pictured lukewarm, original ingredient ratio
Ganache is: Middle stage, poured onto cookie sheet and spread thin warm, chilled for 1 hour, scraped off in strips, rolled into curls (while chilled), pictured chilled, original ingredient ratios (would have worked better thicker though)