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What is ganache?

Bowl o' chocolate
Ganache is a word that gets tossed around a lot in cookbooks and on dessert menus, and while it is easy to figure out that it has something to do with chocolate, what makes this particular kind of chocolate a ganache is often a little less clear. Ganache is a mixture of melted chocolate and cream that can be used as a glaze for pastries and desserts, a filling for cakes and for making chocolate truffles. The basic ratio used when making ganache is two parts chocolate (usually a semisweet/bittersweet chocolate) to one part cream. The mixture is heated just until the chocolate melts, then it can be poured directly on to the dessert you want to glaze with it. It creates a very smooth, glossy glaze with a luxurious mouthfeel, as the cream makes the chocolate much smoother than it would be on its own.

The ganache is used as a glaze while it is still warm to make it pourable, as it thickens up when cooled to room temperature. Cooled ganache is firm enough to handle, but it can be shaped and still melts on the tongue very easily. Cooled ganache is used to make classic chocolate truffles and can be used as the filling for other chocolate confections. Cooled ganache can also be whipped to a mousse-like consistency by beating it with a mixer for a few minutes until it becomes light and fluffy. This mousse-like ganache is great for filling cakes and other pastries.

Ganache recipes can vary slightly in the ratio of chocolate to cream, depending on the intended use of the ganache and the preference of the author of a particular recipe. Some recipes will even use butter in place of the cream, for a different texture to the ganache (although this is typically something I use to coat candies, not to fill chocolates). While a classic ganache is made with a bittersweet chocolate, ganache can be made with other types of chocolate, such as white chocolate and milk chocolate. Ganache is delicious on its own, but it can also be flavored to make different flavored truffle fillings.

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8 Comments
  • Cindy
    June 28, 2011

    Just made your recipe for ganache. It’s delicious and looks great on my yellow bundnt cake! Thanks for sharing.

  • Maureen
    June 28, 2011

    You left out the best reason I make ganache.

    I always get to lick the bowl. 🙂 Until they’re cooked into something ingredients don’t have calories.

  • Pattypro
    June 28, 2011

    Is there anything more divine?!

  • Stephanie
    June 28, 2011

    Nicole, is it possible to make ganache with half & half? I don’t always have cream handy, but half and half is like a must in my fridge, and I was wondering if that would work in a pinch.

  • Nicole
    June 28, 2011

    Stephanie – Half and half will work in a pinch, but you will need less of it and more chocolate because it is thinner than cream. Cream will always give you the best result, but if you’re making only a small batch (say, to do a quick glaze on a bundt cake), you can make it work with half and half. Butter will substitute for the cream in this case, too. But if you’re doing a big batch, I say it is worth going for the cream!

    I hope that helps!

  • Barbara Platt
    August 6, 2011

    Nicole, I’d like to use your ganache recipe to frost cookies. Will it set up hard enough that the cookies can be stacked on top of one another?

  • Nicole
    August 6, 2011

    Barbara – It will set up to be firm, but not hard (and if it is warm out, it will definitely be soft!). You can frost cookies with the ganache while it is still slightly warm and allow them to set up further at room temperature. When you stack them, they shouldn’t stick together (again, unless it is hot out), but the ganache will probably not stay smooth with the weight of another cookie on top. I’d recommend storing your cookies in a single layer.

    Alternatively, you can use the ganache as a filling and sandwich your cookies, which will make them very easy to store and serve!

  • Kellie
    May 23, 2013

    I am trying to make the ganache filling…like for a smores pie or chocolate cream pie…this doenst seem right…do you have any suggestions?

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