The versatility of chocolate ganache earns a go-to status for pastry arts. Whether as a sauce, topping, or filling, it’s used for multiple things like ice cream, profiteroles and cakes. It’s easy to make, adaptable and oh so tasty. Two ingredients are all that’s required for a basic ganache: chocolate and heavy cream. What’s not to like about that?
There’s one critical element to successfully making a ganache—heavy cream. The fat content of heavy cream allows for the melding of the chocolate’s cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar crystals with the cream into something glorious. I won’t go all science on you, but think of it as the cream butterfat molecules hugging the cocoa component molecules. A group hug, if you will! When you shop for cream intended for ganache, be sure to look for “heavy” on the label. Don’t be misconstrued by just “whipping cream” which has a lower butterfat content. Heavy is the qualifier for the ideal butterfat content.
Watch how quickly the ganache comes together. You’re a little more than a minute away from deliciousness!
Dessert idea: Make a batch of your favorite brownies; cover and chill in the refrigerator until firm. Use a heart-shaped cutter to cut an even number of brownies. Fill half with a buttercream of your choice. In this case I used a vanilla Italian meringue.
Top each with a non-frosted half and sandwich. Pipe additional frosting along the sides to fill any voids if needed; smooth with a spatula and return to the refrigerator, covered. When the ganache is ready, place brownie hearts on a wire rack over a clean, rimmed sheet pan. Pour the ganache over each brownie; a second pass may be necessary for good coverage—reheat and reuse the ganache collected in the pan if more is needed. Decorate with candied hearts or jimmies if desired; let set until the ganache firms before serving.
The cream is typically heated to the point it melts the chocolate when added. When the chocolate softens, it is gently stirred until the mixture is uniform in color, dark and glossy. This is where the adaptability part comes into play. Depending upon how you wish to use the ganache will determine the viscosity you want (thicker for dipping, thinner for pouring). The two things which apply to the viscosity of ganache are: temperature and the ratio of cream to chocolate. Generally speaking, the more cream, the thinner the ganache. In some cases, however, simply raising the temperature slightly, or re-warming a cooled ganache can render it to a desired consistency.
Linked here are other recipes where chocolate ganache was used and adapted for the particular application needed:
We’ll discuss additional preparation methods in future posts. In the interim, I encourage you to try your hand at making and working with ganache. A simple dessert with sophisticated appeal is as close as your kitchen!