Getting Your Ganache On: How to Make and Apply the Most Useful Ingredient in Pastry

I have spoken many times about ganache, and multitudes of  recipes in which I use it. But just to clarify what it is exactly, ganache is  a sauce made from equal parts (by weight) of 35% whipping cream and (dark) chocolate. Milk and white chocolate ganache exist too, but require a higher percentage of chocolate to cream.

So now you know what it is, but what’s the big deal? What’s so good about ganache?

I, like many pastry chefs, am effusive in my praise of ganache and tout its frequent use because of its incredible versatility.

In its liquid form, ganache can serve as glaze or garnish meaning that you could put it on top of a dessert, or on the side. Once it has set and comes to room temperature, the once-velvety smooth liquid glaze transforms into a thick spread with an almost peanut-butter like texture, and can be used in a variety of dessert applications: It can be piped or rolled into truffles, used as icing for cupcakes and cake, mixed with whip cream and it becomes a mousse which can then be made into moulded into cakes, piped into verrines, or poured into a pie crust to make a devilishly decadent tart au chocolat.

Ganache is your best friend in the pastry kitchen, so if you’re serious about baking you should learn to use it…but first let’s learn how to make it.

I generally use 2 cups of cream to 1 lb of 53.8% chocolate. This equal parts ratio with this percentage dark chocolate makes a medium ganache which can be used for all the aforementioned applications. If you use darker chocolate like 70%, it will be thicker. The opposite is true for milk and white chocolate so depending on your intended use for the ganache, if you use a different chocolate you may have to adjust the ratio.

How to Make the Ganache:

1) Put your chocolate in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Put your cream into a pot and over medium-high heat, bring to a rolling boil.

Boiling cream. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Boiling cream. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

2) Once boiling, pour over the chocolate and allow to stand for a minute.

Hot cream over chocolate. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Hot cream over chocolate. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

3) Whisk until smooth.

Smooth liquid ganache. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Smooth liquid ganache. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Now you have to decide what you would like to use your ganache for. If you want to use it as a glaze or sauce, you can use your ganache immediately.

I use it as a glaze for my New York Style Cheesecake. To use your ganache as a glaze simply ladle it on what you wish to glaze.

Glazed cheesecake. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Glazed cheesecake. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

You can also add additional decoration at this point by drizzling white chocolate over your liquid glaze.

If you want to decorate a cake or cupcakes, you will have to allow your ganache to set. I make my ganache the day before I plan to use it, and put it in the fridge as soon as it’s finished. You will have to allow it to come to warm up for 2-3 hours.

Ready to spread ganache. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Ready to spread ganache. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

You will know it’s ready to use when it’s spreadable, but not melty. A good way to test is it is soft enough to use is to stick your finger in the middle of your bowl. Your finger should reach the bottom with no resistance.

Its takes a fair amount of practice and repetition to really get comfortable using ganache as a spread/ icing simply because if it’s a few degrees to warm it will drip off your cupcake or it wont support a mounted cake. If its too hard, it wont pipe or spread smoothly. Remember the test I just mentioned to text if your ganache is soft enough to use. In terms of it being too soft, a good test is tilting your bowl on an angle. If your ganache runs down, it is a bit too soft. The solution is to simply stick it back in the fridge for about 10 minutes or until it firms up slightly.


Piped gananache to ice a cupcake. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Piped ganache to ice a cupcake. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

I love ganache, in part because I am a die-hard chocoholic, but also because I appreciate all that it can do for me.

For those of use who love dessert, but aren’t into the overly-sweet things, ganache is the perfect topping.

Try it out, and remember if you’re not happy with the texture, you can always reheat it and start again.

Ganache brings a certain elegance to desserts too, with its glossy shine and sleek finish, and by virtue of the fact that it hides all surface imperfections (another incredible bonus).

Test it out. I guarantee you will be happy. Go get your ganache on!


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