There are so many ways to use this delicious marriage of chocolate and cream.
Credit: Tara Donne

Made of nothing more than chocolate and cream, ganache is a two-ingredient wonder. Its French name may seem fancy, but it's one of the simplest things a home cook can make—and it's a recipe that's easy to quickly master. There's no specialty equipment required, no next-level technique to take on. If you can chop, pour, and whisk, you can make chocolate ganache. And it can be used to create delightful desserts of all kinds. Think of it as a gift that keeps on giving.

All ganache recipes start the same way: You finely chop chocolate, place it in a heatproof bowl, then pour just-simmering (never boiling) heavy cream over it. After mingling for five or ten minutes, the two are whisked until luxuriously smooth (or emulsified, to use the chemistry term).


How to Use Ganache

What you do next depends on how you wish to use the ganache. Warm, it's perfect for pouring or drizzling over cakes (round, square, Bundt, loaf, you name it) and cut-out cookies. It makes a luxurious filling for thumbprint cookies, a sauce for ice cream, or a dip for dunking strawberries. It can also be poured into a pie or tart shell for a filling that sets well enough to slice after an hour or so in the refrigerator. Pro tip: Keep the recipe for this genius four-ingredient pie close at hand. Chocolate ganache fills a ridiculously easy crust—the coconut macaroon-like combination is pressed into a pie plate and quickly baked—and sets in about an hour. It's a beautiful, no-brainer, gluten-free dessert that you can rely on.

And Then There Are Truffles

If you chill the ganache until firm, it transforms into the perfect consistency for scooping and forming into chocolate truffles. The refrigerated ganache is rolled into balls (though any shape will do; the original misshapen confections were named for their resemblance to the prized fungi they take their name from). The balls are then coated in unsweetened cocoa powder to finish (another explanation for the name, since the cocoa is reminiscent of the dirt that covers truffles), though many are further rolled in chopped nuts, sprinkles, cocoa nibs, crushed hard candies, or toasted coconut flakes.

Don't Forget About Frosting

When you allow the ganache to cool to room temperature without first chilling, you can whip it into a super fluffy, mousse-like frosting, which is just right for swooping and swirling on top of cupcakes or full-size cakes. Whipped ganache also makes a silky smooth filling sandwiched between cake layers and cookies.

Get Creative with Some Add-Ins

Temperature is one factor in ganache's malleability, but the ratio of those two simple ingredients (chocolate and cream) also accounts for it. If it's truffles you're after, two parts chocolate to one part cream will get you there. For whipped frostings and fillings, try the equivalent weight of each. Glazes and warm sauces work best with a cream to chocolate ration of 2:1. Those two ingredients are also open to an array of optional flavorings and add-ins. Some recipes include a pinch of salt, all the better to bring out the sweetness of the chocolate—and the cream. Others incorporate flavoring agents like extracts (peppermint is nice), coffee, liqueurs (like raspberry), and spirits (think bourbon, whiskey, or rum). And you may occasionally come across ganache recipes that include a drop of vegetable oil or a tablespoon of corn syrup. This allows a glaze or frosting to set to an exceptionally shiny, glossy finish—a home baker's take on the mirror glaze of professional pastry kitchens.

Semi- or bittersweet chocolate is featured in most ganache recipes, but you can find excellent milk chocolate and white chocolate ganache variations as well.

Yes, There Is Vegan Ganache

Finally, we have some good news for vegans and those who bake for them: Coconut milk can stand in for the cream to create a delicious, dairy-free chocolate ganache, the natural accompaniment to vegan cupcakes. Hooray! All for ganache, and ganache for all!


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