Ganache is a French term
referring to a smooth and velvety mixture of chocolate and cream. Its origin
is a little unclear, but it is believed to have been invented around 1850. Some say it originated in Switzerland where it was used as a base for truffles. Others say it was invented in Paris at the Patisserie Siravdin.
To make Ganache, hot cream
(cream with a 35-40% butterfat content) is poured over chopped semi sweet or
and the mixture is stirred until smooth. The proportions of chocolate to cream can vary depending on its
use, but the basic form is equal weights of chocolate and cream. Dark, milk, or
white chocolate can be used to make ganache and different flavorings can be
added such as liqueurs and extracts. Butter, oil, or corn syrup can also be
added when a dark shiny glaze is desired.
Ganache is widely
used in the pastry kitchen. When barely warm and liquid, ganache can be poured over a
cake or torte for a smooth and shiny glaze. If cooled to room temperature it
becomes a spreadable filling and frosting. Refrigerated ganache can be whipped
for fillings and frostings or formed into chocolate truffles.
The taste and quality
of the ganache is primarily dependent on the quality of chocolate you start
with. Remember not all chocolates are the same. It is important to
use a 'pure' chocolate, that is, chocolate that contains just chocolate
liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, and lecithin. You do not want to use
a chocolate that has vegetable fat listed as an ingredient. Chocolate begins
beans from the tropical tree Theobroma which translates to "Food of
the Gods". There
are three types of cacao beans (Forastero,
Criollo, and Trinitario) and
the type and/or blend of beans, their quality, and where they are grown all
contribute to the quality and taste of the chocolate. Other factors
affecting taste and quality are how the beans are roasted, how the beans are
ground into a mass called chocolate liquor,
how much extra cocoa butter is added to the chocolate liquor, quality and amount
of other ingredients added, and how long the chocolate liquor is conched
(processed). But most importantly, choose a chocolate that you would also
enjoy eating out of hand. A chocolate with a velvety smooth texture will
produce a ganache that is velvety smooth. If you like semi sweet chocolate, then
you would probably want to use a chocolate with no more than 58% cacao
content. The cacao percentage tells us the amount of cacao, that is,
chocolate liquor and cocoa butter, the chocolate contains in relation to
the amount of sugar. Therefore, a chocolate with a 58% cacao means that it
has 58% cacao and 42% sugar. (As a side note, the cocoa butter gives the
chocolate that melt-in-your-mouth consistently.) Some brands I have used
and liked are Valrhona, Guittard, Scharffen Berger, Lindt, and Green &
Besides the chocolate, a
Ganache contains cream, in this case heavy "whipping" cream, or double
cream. This is cream with a butterfat content of between 35 - 40%. Now,
not all heavy creams taste the same. I have found that organic brands of
heavy cream have much better flavor than regular supermarket brands.
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium
sized heatproof bowl. Set aside.
Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. (Can
also heat the cream and butter in the microwave.) Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate
and allow to stand, without stirring, for a few minutes. Stir
gently (as you do not want to incorporate air into the ganache) with a
spoon or whisk until smooth. If
desired, add the liqueur.
Makes enough ganache to cover one - 9 inch (23 cm) cake or torte.
To Cover a Torte or
the cake you are covering needs to be refrigerated, first chill the
cake. (This will ensure
that the ganache will not lose its shine when the cake is stored in the refrigerator.)
First, brush any loose crumbs
from the cake. Using a cake spatula or knife, cover the sides and top of the
cake with a thin layer of ganache. (This is called a crumb coat
and seals in any cake crumbs so that your cake will have a smooth finish.) Refrigerate
the cake for about 5 minutes or until the crumb coat has set. Then place the cake on a wire rack,
and put the wire rack on top of a large baking sheet (to catch any excess
ganache that drips from cake.) Then pour
the ganache into the center of the cake. Working quickly, spread the ganache with
a large metal spatula or knife, using big strokes to push the ganache over the sides of the cake.
create an even coating of ganache.) If there are any bare spots on the sides of
the cake, cover with ganache.
Let the ganache set before covering and
storing the cake.
Leftover ganache can be
strained to remove any crumbs. It can be used to make chocolate truffles. Cover
and refrigerate the ganache until firm (several hours or overnight).
Roll into small balls and then roll
cocoa powder, confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar or chopped nuts. You can use your
hands to form the truffles, a melon baller or small spoon. Truffles can
be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months.
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