- Used as a topping, filling or frosting.
- Made by combining hot cream with chopped chocolate.
- Can be rolled in cocoa powder to make chocolate truffles.
What Is Ganache?
Ganache is a mixture of chocolate and cream in equal parts by weight. In its most basic state, ganache is made by simmering cream, pouring the hot cream over chopped chocolate, and then whisking the mixture until the chocolate is entirely melted and incorporated. Other common additions include butter, for a creamier texture, and extracts or oils for flavoring.
The texture of ganache depends on the ratio of cream to chocolate: a greater proportion of cream creates a "loose" or "soft" ganache that is fairly liquid at room temperature, suitable for filling molded chocolates and frosting cakes. A higher proportion of chocolate creates a "firm" ganache that has the consistency of thick paste at room temperature, and that hardens upon refrigeration. This type of ganache is often formed into balls and rolled in cocoa powder to create simple truffles.
Ganache Vs. Icing
Ganache (pronounced "guh-NAWSH") can be used as an icing or frosting, but there are differences between them. First, an icing and a frosting are not necessarily the same thing. Frosting is usually spread on top of a cake or cupcakes, while icing is usually more liquid, and is either poured or drizzled. And icing dries harder than frosting, which is made to retain the soft, fluffy texture that is achieved by creaming the butter and sugar together and then whipping air into it. When ganache includes butter, it's melted butter that is stirred into it, not creamed.
So ganache has more in common with icing than it does with frosting, in the sense that it isn't whipped, and is more pourable than spreadable. But as we mentioned before, its consistency can be modified by altering the ratio of cream to chocolate, to make it looser or firmer, and a looser ganache is more spreadable than the firm type. Still, it's not something you would describe as "fluffy,"since it doesn't have air whipped into it. It's more dense and pourable than frosting.
There are three main types of ganache: dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. Dark and milk chocolate ganache differ in the type of chocolate that is used to make it. Milk chocolate ganache is made from milk chocolate and cream, while dark chocolate ganache is made from semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate, usually consisting of 40 to 60 percent cocoa solids. White chocolate ganache is made from white chocolate (which is cocoa butter and sugar without the cocoa solids) and cream, so that it turns out white. It can also be colored with food coloring.
All of these three types of ganache can also be made firmer or looser by manipulating the ratio of chocolate to cream, so there are really an unlimited range of flavors and viscosities. Additionally, ganache can be flavored with various extracts, such as peppermint, vanilla, almond, coconut, raspberry and so on, as well as alcoholic flavors like Bailey's, rum or brandy.
As discussed, ganache is frequently used as a frosting or topping for cakes and cookies, as a filling for cakes, cupcakes and pastries, and as a base or decorative finish for homemade candies. You can also use it for making fudge, for making chocolate fondue, and thinned out it can make a great chocolate syrup or the base for a chocolate mousse.
What Does It Taste Like?
Ganache has different flavors depending on what type it is. Dark chocolate ganache has a rich, deep chocolate flavor, while the milk chocolate version is creamier and a bit sweeter. White chocolate ganache lacks the chocolatey flavor of the other two, but it's rich, creamy and sweet. And its flavor will also vary depending on what sorts of extracts or other add-ins have been incorporated.
If you're preparing a recipe that calls for ganache and you want to use something else, the best substitute to use is going to depend on how the ganache is being used in the recipe. If it's an icing, you could substitute buttercream frosting, or a chocolate glaze, which is made by combining melted chocolate with vegetable oil, or a poured fondant icing, made by combining melted chocolate, sugar and corn syrup. If it's a filling, you could substitute whipped cream or buttercream.
Here is a recipe for making ganache, as well as a couple of recipes that include ganache.
You can store ganache in the refrigerator by transferring it to an airtight container with a sheet of plastic over the surface of the ganache and then sealing the lid. Stored this way, it can be refrigerated for a week or two. You can also freeze it in this manner for 2 to 3 months.