The easiest frosting you could try. Two ingredients . Chocolate and cream. Can these two go wrong together???
What is ganache ?
Ganache is basically a velvetty emulsified mixture of chocolate and cream. The chocolate could be dark, white or milk depending on your taste buds. It is infinitely versatile and at different consistencies can be a rich frosting , a whipped cream , a drizzle , a drip , dense filling or truffles.
What do you need to make ganache ?
Ganache requires basically two ingredients : cream and chocolate. Since there are only two ingredients , its best to use ingredients of the highest quality that you can.
Some ganache recipes also use extra sugar and egg yolks. Some have a little corn syrup or butter added in for some extra sheen. Ganache can be flavoured in a number of ways easily . But more on that later!
Cream : Ideally , heavy or double cream ( fat content > 35%) is used for making ganache , but since in India , heavy or double cream is difficult to find or insanely priced, the low fat cream (around 20 % fat) can be used too. The non dairy whipping cream is not the best choice for ganache- its not supposed to be heated . Although some people do use it, i have tasted it once and the flavour or texture is not at par with real cream in my opinion.
Chocolate : I am a big fan of dark chocolate and have used 52 % to 70 % couveture chocolate. Anything more than that, I do find that my family and friends find too bitter . I use milk chocolate or white chocolate more sparingly for ganache , but they work good with less sweet cakes. Compound chocolate works well here but once you taste ganache made with real chocolate – you wont feel like going back to compound !
Ratio : Depending on the fat content of the cream , the percentage of cocoa butter in the chocolate , the temperature of the area and what purpose you want to use the ganache for, the ratio of chocolate to cream varies.
- When using heavy cream ( fat content > 35%) , 1 cup (240 ml) cream to 8 ounces ( 226 grams ) is the usual formula used. That is , almost 1:1 ratio . For making truffles, the ratio would be 2:1 .
- While using low fat cream as a rule of thumb for dark chocolate ganache, the ratio of chocolate to cream is 1:1 for glaze or filling , 1.5:1 (200 ml cream and 300 grams chocolate) when used for frosting , 2: 1 or 2.5 :1 for making truffles .
- For milk chocolate ganache, the ratio of chocolate to cream is 2.5 :1 to 3:1.
- For white chocolate ganache, the ratio of chocolate to cream is around 3:1.
All these ratios are approximate , you will need more chocolate to cream if you stay in a hotter area.
How do you make ganache ?
Method one or conventional method :
Take the chopped chocolate or chips in a bowl.
Heat the cream in a sauce pan or microwave until just bubbling around the corner. It doesnt need to boil.
Pour cream onto the chocolate . Try to cover all the chocolate.Cover and let stand for a couple of minutes. The heat from the cream melts the chocolate.
Stir with a whisk or spatula .The chocolate will melt and merge easily with the cream and you ll have a uniform dark brown creamy ganache. You can either pour this thin ganache directly over a cake but ideally, cover and let it rest at room temperature for few hours or overnight for it to set!
Method two or one pot method:
This is the method I prefer. In a saucepan , chop up the chocolate and pour the cream. Heat on low while stirring continuously until all the chocolate is melted. You can do this in the microwave as well. But remember to stir every 20 seconds on low power – chocolate may seem unmelted but it retains its shape at higher temperature too. When you stir, it will melt.
Again, you can either pour this thin ganache directly over a cake but ideally, cover and let it rest at room temperature for few hours or overnight for it to set.
Method three or instant ganache:
If you want thick ganache without the wait , you can try this method. First heat the finely chopped chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler until melted completely. Mix in the cream.
This not only gives you thick ganache instantly , but since you melt the chocolate first, your ganache will be invariably smooth (no bits of chocolate).
But the downside is that , there is a slight difference in texture than the conventionally made and rested ganache.
What can you do with ganache ?
- Use as a glaze : Place your cake on a wire rack and place a plate under the wire rack. Pour freshly made warm ganache (not hot) over the centre of your cake and let it pour down the sides. You can move the cake around to help spread the ganache or use a warm metal spatula. Refrigerate the cake or let rest until set.
2. You can rest it overnight or for few hours. It ll thicken and you can use it to frost a cake or pipe on cakes or cupcakes. If you fill and frost a chocolate cake with ganache , its called a truffle cake !
3. You can use the set ganache as a filling alone , like in this coffee overload cake.
4. You can use freshly made ganache of a thinner consistency to drip along the sides of a cake .
5. You can make truffles by shaping the set ganache into balls and rolling in cocoa powder, chopped nuts etc. You can flavour the truffles in many ways – have a look at the paan truffles or vodka truffles (in the picture).
6. Ganache makes an easy filling for doughnuts .
7. Use ganache to flavour your whipped cream or buttercream
8. Use some ganache to sandwich your cookies !
9. It is a simple (and rich!) filling for tarts .
10. Dip the tops of your eclairs and pastries in it !
What can go wrong ?
- Ganache still has bits of chocolate in it – you can heat it in 20 second intervals in the microwave or over a double boiler. I just heat it in a sauce pan while stirring continuously and it works for me. For a smooth ganache, make sure your chocolate is chopped small and as uniform as possible.
- Ganache is too thick after setting – Reheat your ganache a little if it becomes too thick to spread when set . If you heat too much, it will become liquid again .
- Ganache refuses to set – melted more chocolate and add so that the chocolate to cream ratio becomes 2 : 1 or 2.5: 1 . For white chocolate, you can go even higher.
- Ganache too thick even without setting – add more heated cream and stir into ganache.
- Ganache looks granular or the oil has separated (split ganache) – add milk tablespoon by tablespoon while stirring continuously until ganache looks smooth again. Another way of correcting this is freezing half the ganache and heating the other half until liquid. Then mix the two.
Anything else I should know ?
- When the cream merges with the chocolate, it changes in structure. So ganache can easily be kept at room temperature for unto 2 days and in the refrigerator for two weeks (I ve kept it longer!)
- If you are in a hurry and want the ganache to set fast, you can keep it in the refrigerator but keep stirring after every 20 minutes so it sets uniformly.
- While its best to go by weights , one ml cream weighs roughly 1 gram so one cup is about 240 grams and one cup chopped chocolate is between 175 and 200 grams (depending on how much you pack the cup).
- Always, and i mean ALWAYS, use the best chocolate you can !
How can i make my ganache even better :
Shiny ganache : Add one tablespoon butter (when using one cup cream) to the cream while heating for a shinier ganache.
Water ganache : Not really better (less luxurious) , but lower in calories and vegan when made with vegan chocolate.
Whipped ganache : if you are using heavy cream, you can whip the set ganache until it is light and fluffy.
Mocha ganache : Add one to three teaspoons instant coffee powder or espresso powder to the cream as it heats.
Liquor ganache : Add two tablespoons liquor of choice to one cup ganache.
Nutella ganache : Mix dark chocolate and Nutella while making the ganache like in this cake , or add about 2 tablespoons Nutella to every cup of ganache
Caramel ganache : You can use readymade caramel sauce or make your own to mix with the ganache.
Orange chocolate ganache : add about two tablespoons orange juice and some zest to one cup ganache.
There a hundred other ways – these are just the ones i tried !
Luscious chocolate ganache , the easiest and my go-to frosting option always !!!