How to Make Chocolate Ganache for Glazes, Frostings, and Truffles
How can something so rich and decadent be so easy to make?
What is Ganache?
Ganache (pronounced guh-NAASH and rhymes with wash), also called chocolate ganache, is simply a mixture of two ingredients: chocolate and heavy cream. Sometimes another flavoring is added, such as a liqueur or extract. Yet, by combining just two ingredients, you can create cake filling, poured glaze, icing or frosting, or the base for truffles.
How do two ingredients come together to make so many different things? It comes down to the ratio of chocolate to cream you use and the temperature of the mixture. We'll walk you through how to make ganache using different ratios and temperatures to achieve the results you want.
How to Make Ganache
The first thing to consider is how you want to use the ganache: as a pourable glaze, as a whipped frosting, or as a truffle base. What you use it for determines the chocolate to cream ratio and whether you use the ganache while it's warm or at room temperature.
Chocolate: Because there are only two ingredients in ganache, the quality of the chocolate really matters. Choose the best semisweet, bittersweet, or dark chocolate you can get your hands on. I suggest picking a chocolate that you love to eat all on its own (try to not eat it all before it goes into the ganache). If the chocolate isn't already chips or thin discs, chop it finely so it will melt easily.
Cream: Use heavy cream (also called whipping cream). You can substitute water or milk for all or part of the cream. However, using anything other than cream will affect its shine and luxurious texture.
Chocolate to Cream Ratio
As we mentioned above, the ratio of chocolate to cream is very important. We present three options below, but you can use these as loose guidelines and experiment to find a ratio that works best for you.
1. Equal Parts Chocolate and Cream
One of the most popular ways to make ganache is to use equal amounts of chocolate and cream, or 1:1. Try this recipe for Pro Ganache, which uses 16 ounces of chocolate and 16 ounces of cream.
- While still warm, this ganache is pourable and can be used to drizzle chocolate ribbons or to glaze cookies, cupcakes, or cakes. It can even be used as a cake filling or chocolate fondue.
- As it starts to cool, it thickens and takes on more of a spreadable consistency.
- At room temperature (after it sits in a covered bowl on the counter for 1-2 hours), the texture is like brownie batter and the ganache can be rolled into balls for truffles or whipped at high speed to make a light, airy chocolate frosting.
2. Two Parts Chocolate to One Part Cream
Increasing the percentage of chocolate makes for a much thicker ganache. For example, if you used 16 ounces chocolate, you would add 8 ounces of cream, or 2:1.
- While still warm, this ganache can be used as a glaze with the consistency of the top of a Hostess cupcake (of course, it will taste much better!).
- At room temperature, ganache that is two parts chocolate to one part cream is a typical ratio for truffles. Try this recipe for Chef John's Chocolate Truffles (he uses a scale to match 60% of the chocolate's weight in cream, so not exactly 2:1). Although you can make truffles with a 1:1 ratio, the 2:1 truffles will have a more fudge-like consistency. You can also whip this ganache into piped frosting. The 2:1 piped frosting is intensely chocolaty!
3. Two Parts Cream to One Part Chocolate
Increasing the percentage of cream makes a thinner ganache. For example, if you used 8 ounces chocolate, you would add 16 ounces cream.
- While still warm, this ganache is very runny (like a soup). This type of ganache can be poured over a cake to give it a beautiful chocolate glaze. Be sure to put something under the cake while you pour because the ganache will drip.
- At room temperature, this ganache is mousse-like. It's too thin for a truffle, but if you chill it first, you can whip it to create a pipeable frosting that tastes like chocolate whipped cream.
No matter what ratio of chocolate to cream you are using, the basic procedure for making ganache is consistent across most recipes:
- Bring heavy whipping cream just to boil either in the microwave or on the stove.
- Pour it over a bowl of chocolate.
- Let the cream sit on the chocolate for a minute.
- Stir the ganache until the cream and the chocolate are fully combined.
Here's how the three different types of ganache look after they have cooled in a bowl for two hours. The two parts cream ganache looks just like caramel in this photo, but we assure you that it's made with the same bittersweet chocolate as the other ganaches! If any of the warm ganache varieties are poured on cupcakes, cakes, or cookies, they will look smooth and shiny when they cool — the difference will just be in the thickness of the chocolate.
Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate Ganache
Because there is a higher fat content in milk and white chocolate than in semisweet, bittersweet, or dark chocolate, use a higher percentage of chocolate to cream than you otherwise would for the thickness of ganache that you would like. For example, instead of a 2:1 chocolate to cream ratio, try a 3:1 chocolate to cream ratio.
If you want to add other flavors to your ganache, you can mix in extracts, flavoring oils, or alcohol after mixing the cream and chocolate together. You can also add flavor by steeping the cream in tea or herbs and straining before heating and pouring over the chopped chocolate. Melting a little butter with the heavy whipping cream can give a richer flavor and add a little more shine to the finished product.
Get this recipe for Chocolate Ganache.
Mix chocolate and cream in a ratio of 1 part chocolate to 1 part cream to create a pourable glaze to coat cakes, soufflés, éclairs, or petit fours. Some people like to add a little bit of corn syrup or butter to enhance the shine. If using the next day, melt over a double boiler, stirring frequently until smooth and shiny. It is also great warmed in a fondue pot with fresh fruit and pound cake for dipping.
Get this recipe for Basic Truffles.
Mix chocolate and cream in a ratio of 2 parts chocolate to 1 part cream. This will create a firm-textured ganache that can hold its shape. You can also use 3 parts chocolate to 1 part cream for an even firmer base. Once your ganache has cooled, scoop little balls using a melon baller or small ice cream scoop. Dip the truffles in an additional layer of coating chocolate, or simply roll in cocoa powder, sprinkles, or sugar. These make amazing gifts.
More: How to Make Truffles
Filling or Frosting
Get this recipe for Chocolate Ganache Layer Cake
Let ganache (any ratio) set up at room temperature, then chill. Beat with an electric mixer or stand mixer using the paddle attachment. You can heat it up slightly, but it will maintain its texture better if it is kept cold. Use to fill or frost cakes as you would any pre-made frosting from a can.
Chocolate Whipped Cream
Get this recipe for Whipped Chocolate Ganache
Use one part chocolate to one part cream. Chill at least eight hours or overnight. Like whipped cream, it works best when the beater and bowl are kept cold. Use to fill or frost cakes as you would use whipped cream.
Troubleshooting Chocolate Ganache
Occasionally you might encounter a dry-looking or cracked ganache. This is usually due to over-heating or cooling too rapidly. If you allow the cream and chocolate to get too hot, especially when reheating, the oils might separate out of the chocolate and float to the top, leaving you with a dull, dry-looking finished product. You can still use it for truffles, whipped filling, or simply melt it into a glass of warm milk for a delicious cup of hot chocolate.
Sending your ganache straight to the refrigerator after mixing can also cause it to separate. The process of cooling the ganache slowly helps the molecules from the chocolate and cream to bond more securely, giving it a nice shine. It's best to allow it to cool at room temperature before transferring it to the fridge.
How to Store Ganache
In general, ganache can be kept at room temperature for two days; the sugar in chocolate keeps bacteria from growing. However, storage suggestions vary based on the percentage of cream you are using. To be on the safe side, ganache made with twice as much cream to chocolate can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. You can freeze ganache for up to a month. Thaw in the fridge overnight and let it come to room temperature before using. No matter how you store it, wrap it well to keep moisture out.