Let’s talk icing. There’s buttercream, there’s fondant … and then there’s ganache! This basic of the pastry kitchen has a veritable host of uses and mastering the fundamentals (temperature and ratio etc) will add more than just a flash icing to your baking repertoire.
What kind of chocolate should you use?
We think you should go for what you like eating. That being said we usually avoid very creamy milk chocolates (not enough chocolate flavour – it just ends up being sweet rather than chocolatey once you’ve added the cream) and very dark, bitter chocolate (you do need a bit of sweetness to round out the flavour).
It’s as easy as 1-2-3 …
Step 1: chop your chocolate into small, evenly sized pieces (so that they’ll melt quickly and evenly in the hot cream) and put it into a heatproof bowl (we love glass so that we can really see what’s going on).
Step 2: heat your measured cream (stovetop or microwave) until it just simmers (don’t let it boil), then pour it over your chopped chocolate.
Step 3: let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to melt and the cream to cool a little which makes for a smoother ganache, then start slowly mixing to bring your ganache together. I usually use my favourite kitchen tool for this (an 8” Best roux whisk) and the trick is to start from the centre of the bowl, stirring in small circles before drawing more mixture in from the sides. This allows a slow incorporation of the cream which gives a smooth, non-grainy result.
2:1 Chocolate to cream – this ganache cools to a very thick texture which is perfect for piping as it sets up firm and hold a shape. It’s also great for scooping and rolling into truffles.
1:1 Chocolate to cream – lighter than the above ratio, this will give you a thick glaze like consistency which is perfect for filling, icing and glazing cakes and desserts and for a whipped ganache frosting (cooled ganache is whipped in the stand mixture until it lightens to an almost mousse like consistency. When using as a glaze, it should be poured over the cake while still slightly warm (an offset spatula can be used to help spread it over the surface).
2:1 Cream to chocolate – a ganache that’s more like a chocolate sauce and perfect for spooning over profiteroles and cream puffs, for dipping and as a totally over the top base to a hot chocolate. Note, this ratio will not ‘set’ but will remain smooth and gooey at room temperature.
A note about white chocolate: use a ratio of 3 parts white chocolate to 1 part cream for a fudgy white chocolate ganache.
Storing your ganache:
If you wish to make your ganache ahead of time, simply place a piece of baking paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface which prevents the surface hardening and a skin forming. For longer storage, place in the fridge. This will make your ganache harden quite significantly so you should let it come back to room temp before using.
Flavouring your ganache:
Feel free to flavour your ganache. We love to use our Lorann flavourings to ring the changes – orange for a Jaffa flavour; pineapple for Pineapple Lump; Buttered Popcorn; Peanut Butter; Raspberry and Pina Colada are some of our favourites.