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Chocolate ganache basics
Ganache is a magically versatile baking technique used to make everything from shiny cake glazes to fudgy truffles. Learn about different ratios, ganache best practices and how to salvage a splitting mixture.

Chocolate ganache basics

WHAT IS GANACHE?

Ganache is a luxurious combination of chocolate and cream melted together until velvety smooth and glossy. It’s an incredibly versatile baking technique used to make everything from fudgy chocolate truffles to shiny cake glazes by simply tweaking the ratio of cream to chocolate.

CHOCOLATE: Because ganache is a 2-ingredient wonder, the quality of your chocolate will have a huge impact on the final outcome.

CREAM: Good old whipping cream is all you need here, although you can also play around with coconut cream for vegan-friendly variations.

BUTTER (optional): Some recipes may call for cubed butter to be stirred into the finished ganache. While this isn’t an essential ingredient, it can help stabilise a ganache and add extra richness and shine. You shouldn’t need a lot, only about 15g per cup of ganache.

HOW TO MAKE

  1. Finely chop your chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Gently heat the cream in a saucepan until it barely starts to simmer (see ‘Adding Flavour’ below) – do not boil! Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
  3. Leave for a few minutes to give the chocolate time to soften and the cream to cool, then gently whisk or stir to emulsify everything together until smooth and glossy.

Pro tip: Finely chopping the chocolate ensures it melts easily and evenly in the heat of the cream. If you have larger pieces of chocolate in your mix, they may not melt all the way through, resulting in a lumpy ganache.

ADDING FLAVOUR

The easiest way to add flavour to your ganache is by infusing the cream with ingredients like:

  • orange zest
  • fresh mint leaves
  • whole spices (cinnamon, crushed cardamom pods etc)
  • ground spices (chilli flakes, chai blend etc)
  • vanilla (pods or extract)
  • coffee beans or instant coffee granules
  • a splash of your favourite liqueur (particularly delicious for truffles! Add to the finished ganache to prevent the chocolate from seizing.)

Place your cream into a saucepan with your chosen flavour infusion and heat until it just starts to simmer. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes or so to extract maximum flavour, then strain over your chocolate (you may need to reheat it if it cooled down too much). For ‘instant’ ingredients that don’t require straining, like vanilla essence, flavoured extracts and instant coffee, simply add to the hot cream, stir through and pour over your chocolate.

THE IMPACT OF RATIO

Adjusting the amount of chocolate and cream in your ganache allows you to use it for different things. Adding more cream results in a runnier mixture, perfect for glazes and sauces, while using less cream gives it a firm set, ideal for truffles. The most versatile ratio is 1 part chocolate to 1 part cream (1 : 1).

These ratios are based on dark chocolate, although any chocolate can be used for ganache – just be aware that different types and qualities may require varying amounts of cream (e.g. white and milk chocolate are softer than dark chocolate, so tend to need less cream to reach the same consistency).

Choc : cream ratio (by weight)* SetCommon applicationsRecipes, ideas and inspiration
1 : 2RunnyThis ratio is famously used to make whipped ganache, which sits between a whipped cream and mousse. Cover and chill your ganache overnight in the fridge and then gently whip with an electric beater until thick and fluffy. Do not overmix! Dollop or pipe on single-layer cakes, cupcakes, tarts and choux.

This ratio also makes a light chocolate sauce which you can pour over ice cream, doughnuts, or simply use as a fruit fondue.
Caramel brownie petit fours with whipped ganache

Chocolate sauce

Churros with chilli chocolate dipping sauce
1 : 1Runny, soft or spreadable, based on how long you leave it to setA go-to ratio when in doubt! The longer you allow the ganache to cool, the firmer it will become.

Use while still runny as a cake drip or glaze for cheesecakes.

Chill in the fridge until thickened and use as a soft spreadable icing or filling for cakes, cupcakes and sandwich cookies.

Can also be used to make a richer, more stable whipped ganache – chill for about 1 hour or until thickened (but not firm) before whipping.
Chocolate orange ganache cake

Vanilla cake with dripped ganache

Cupcakes with decadent chocolate ganache

Chocolate whoopie pies
1.5 : 1

or

2 : 1
Firm and fudge-likeFamously used to make truffles by setting the ganache in the fridge and rolling into balls. You can even stuff blobs of ganache into cookie dough or brownie batter for a luxurious hidden centre.

When freshly mixed, you can pour the ganache into tart shells and set in the fridge. Or allow it to set slightly firmer and pipe on cupcakes and cakes or sandwich cookies and macarons.

Salted caramel chocolate tart

Double chocolate cookie slices

White chocolate masala and pistachio truffles

Triple chocolate thumbprint cookies
*e.g. 1:2 – 120g chocolate to 240g cream, 1:1 – 120g chocolate to 120g cream, 2:1 – 240g chocolate to 120g cream

Pro tip: While these ratios are a helpful guide, you’ll see in some of the suggested recipes that they’re quite flexible so you don’t need to stick to them 100%. A more important part of making ganache is how you make it.

SAVING A SPLIT GANACHE

If your ganache looks greasy, gloopy or grainy, it has split. It’s a common problem with making ganache and is most often caused by overheating the mixture. Over-agitating the chocolate can also cause it to seize and start clumping. Here are some tips to avoid and save a splitting ganache:

  • Chocolate doesn’t like getting too hot, so don’t overheat or boil your cream.
  • Chop your chocolate finely to ensure it melts easily and evenly in the residual heat of the cream.
  • Steer clear of the microwave. While it may seem far quicker to just melt everything together in one go, you are much more likely to overheat it this way.
  • Make sure to GENTLY stir your ganache using a metal spoon or whisk, gradually incorporating the cream. Greasy spatulas or wooden spoons can trigger splitting.
  • If your ganache has split into a greasy gloopy mess, stir in a little warm milk to help bring it back together. But if it looks hard and crumbly, your chocolate has probably seized beyond repair.

Pro tip: Allowing the hot cream and chocolate to sit for a few minutes before stirring gives the chocolate time to melt while also allowing the cream to cool down. This helps to prevent the mixture from splitting when stirred together.

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