Chocolate ganache is a staple baking recipe made with only two ingredients: heavy cream and bittersweet chocolate. Ganache can be made thin or thick depending on whether your end goal is a dipping chocolate, a pourable cake glaze or a filling for a whipped cake or truffles.
According to the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), if you want to thicken a runny ganache, simply add more chocolate. The vice versa is also true: If you want a thinner ganache, just add more heavy cream. For a very thick chocolate ganache, such as that used for truffle filling, ICE suggests using two parts chocolate to one part heavy cream.
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Selecting Chocolate Ganache Ingredients
Making a great chocolate ganache begins in the grocery store. Though this baking recipe requires only two ingredients, your end result could have a plethora of different flavors and textures. This is because fine chocolates have different cocoa percentages and a variety of subtle layers of flavors, according to ICE.
Consider which type of flavor you want to highlight in your ganache — such as fruity, earthy or smoky — and select your chocolate accordingly. Chocolates with a higher percentage of cocoa will result in a firmer ganache. This is because added sugar, which brings down a chocolate's cocoa percentage, softens chocolate and acts like a liquid when chocolate melts, according to ICE.
When it comes to selecting the heavy cream, the fattier the better. ICE suggests using heavy cream with 40 percent milk fat, as more milk fat will produce a more stable and richly flavored ganache. If you do not have heavy cream in your fridge, you can make a butter-and-whole-milk recipe instead.
If you'd like to make a vegan and lactose-free version, substitute full-fat coconut milk for heavy cream in your chocolate ganache recipe. According to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, this is a simple one-to-one substitution. Meaning, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of heavy cream, you can use 1 cup of full-fat coconut milk instead.
Making Chocolate Ganache
Begin making your ganache by finely chopping your chocolate. Next, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a pot. Watch the cream closely and stir as you do this, as cream burns quite easily. Do not bring the cream to a full boil. Once your cream reaches a simmer, pour it over the chopped chocolate, submerging it fully. Let the cream and chocolate sit this way for a few minutes. This begins the melting process.
Next, begin incorporating the ingredients. If you're aiming for a perfectly smooth ganache without any air bubbles, ICE recommends using a rubber spatula to finish completely mixing the ingredients. If your goal is a more whipped ganache, use a whisk to mix the ingredients. At this point, if you notice your ganache is a bit too runny, add more chopped chocolate to the mix.
Also, keep in mind that the ganache will thicken as it cools. According to the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, thick frosting such as ganache should be used only for chilled pastries. Make sure the pastry you are filling or glazing has had time to cool before adding the ganache.