Ganache 101

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Photo: Tara Donne

Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving. Start with our easy and irresistible chocolate ganache recipe, then adapt it for all kinds of uses.

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Tara Donne

Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving. Start with our easy and irresistible chocolate ganache recipe, then adapt it for all kinds of uses.

Chop. Pour. Stir. Nothing up your sleeve, no sleight of hand. Those three basic steps are all there is to making an irresistible batch of ganache. Despite its French name, ganache is nothing elaborate -- chopped chocolate melted in heated heavy cream, with just a bit of salt to bring out the flavor.

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Get It While It's Warm, Hot, or Cold

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One simple recipe spins off into multiple chocolaty directions. The application varies depending on the temperature -- and therefore the consistency -- of the ganache, but the ingredients stay the same. While it's still warm, ganache can be poured directly from the bowl over a cake for a can't-fail glaze. Or piped into tartlets. Or it can be cooled to room temperature and whipped into a fluffy frosting or whoopie pie filling. Mixed with some peanut butter, chilled, and rolled, it turns into truffles.

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Step 1: Chop the Chocolate

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Tara Donne

Our basic ganache recipe (which can easily be multiplied) is the base for all the variations that follow. First, coarsely chop 8 ounces of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (we like 61 percent cacao). A serrated knife is best for the job; its sawlike teeth grab the chocolate, breaking it up.

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Step 2: Heat Cream

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Tara Donne

Bring 1 cup heavy cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate and add 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt. Let stand for 10 minutes (don’t stir -- doing so will cool the ganache too quickly, making it grainy).

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Step 3: Whisk the Mix

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Tara Donne

Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny to break up any pieces and emulsify the cream and chocolate.

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Step 4: Scrape the Bowl

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Tara Donne

Chocolate will often settle on the bottom or sides of the bowl. Scrape the dish with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of it.

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How to Fix Broken Ganache

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Johnny Miller

If the fat starts to separate from the cream, much like the oil in a vinaigrette, fret not. To bring a "broken" ganache back, whisk in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is smooth and emulsified again. Resist the impulse to add cream, which will disrupt the ratio of chocolate to fat (generally, 1 ounce chopped chocolate for every fluid ounce of heavy cream -- plus 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt for every 8 ounces chocolate).

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Warm Ganache: Cake Glaze

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While ganache is still hot and fluid, it makes a showstopping pour-on cake glaze or a glossy filling for tartlets. Before pouring the ganache, set cake on a wire rack over a baking sheet. The excess will pool in the tray and you’ll be able to cleanly lift the cake away (and equally important, reuse any leftovers).

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Warm Ganache: Filling

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For more precise applications, such as filling tartlets, use a disposable pastry bag with a small opening, which will provide control as you pipe the liquid.

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Room-Temperature Ganache: Frosting

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When beaten at room temperature, ganache fluffs up like whipped cream (which, given its heavy-cream content, makes perfect sense). For a smoother and denser frosting, whip the ganache less; for a fluffier, lighter one, whip it longer.

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Room-Temperature Ganache: Whipped Filling

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Ganache that has cooled to room temperature can be used as a whipped filling. As it cools, stir often for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Beat it with a mixer on medium-high speed until paler and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. (1 1/2 cups ganache will yield about 2 cups when whipped.) Transfer to a disposable pastry bag with a large opening and use it as a filling for mini whoopie pies.

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Room-Temperature Ganache: Whipped Frosting

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Alternatively, spread whipped ganache frosting over cupcakes.

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Chilled Ganache: Truffles

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Refrigerated and firmed up, ganache has the perfect texture for rolling into truffles. Double or even triple batches of ganache can be used to make holiday and hostess gifts.

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Chilled Ganache: Peanut Butter Truffles

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Emily Kate Roemer

The batch here was flavored with peanut butter. Adding liqueur or a flavored extract is another option, as is rolling straight-up chilled ganache.

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More Ganache Ideas

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Just when you think you’ve run through all the possibilities, there are more: You can alter the richness depending on the percentage of cacao beans in the chocolate. And not a drop should go to waste. When you glaze a cake and some spatters off to the side, scoop it up and serve it over ice cream or crepes. Or mix it with warm milk, and tuck into a nice cup of hot chocolate.

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