Clean Edges for Your Cakes: Making Ganache

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Cake Decorating | Comments


ganache

Photo via The Royal Bakery

Chocolate ganache is simply a combination of chocolate and cream. It’s what you find in the center of a chocolate truffle. It can be made with any type of chocolate – dark, semi-sweet, milk and white – to suit the flavor of your cake. It is incredibly quick to make, easy to use, delicious to eat and simple to store.

All you really need to know are the ratios of chocolate to cream for different types of chocolate and the type of cream to use. Generally, the higher the content of cocoa butter in the chocolate (the darker it is), the less cream you need. Typically, for dark chocolate, the ratio is 2:1, i.e. twice as much chocolate as cream. For semi-sweet or milk chocolate, a 2.5:1 ratio is usually successful. For white chocolate – the chocolate with the least amount of cocoa solids – a ratio of 3:1 or even 3.5:1 is recommended.

The cream you use needs a butterfat content of at least 35%. In the USA, that’s heavy whipping cream and in the UK, whipping cream is used.

Generally speaking, using better quality chocolate yields better-performing ganache. You can certainly use chocolate chips from the supermarket, but the chemicals they contain to stop them melting in your chocolate chip cookies do affect the quality of your finished product. Regular chocolate bars work well (below left), but couverture chocolate (below right) – with the highest cocoa butter content – gives the most stable results.

making ganache

For the best results, weigh both your chocolate and cream. An ounce of cream when weighed is the same as a fluid ounce in a jug, so you can be sure of getting the right amounts if you use a kitchen scale. Measuring your chocolate and cream by volume is not recommended as a cup of chocolate chips is far more than a cup of broken chocolate from a bar.

To calculate how much ganache you need to cover any size cake, I recommend The Ganacherator. This is an Excel spreadsheet created by Australian cake decorator I Want Sprinkles and allows you to enter the diameter and height of each tier and gives you the amount of chocolate and cream you need. Users of older Excel versions might need this link.

For this tutorial, I am making dark chocolate ganache and need twice as much chocolate as cream.

step 1

1. Break or chop your chocolate into a microwavable bowl.

step 2

2. Weigh half as much cream into a small saucepan. How much cream and chocolate you use depends on how much ganache you want to make and the size of the cake you need to ice.

step 3

3. Bring the cream to the boil and pour it over the chocolate.

step 4

4. Submerge the chocolate beneath the level of the cream and leave undisturbed for a couple of minutes.

step 5

5. After a couple of minutes, start gently stirring the melted chocolate and cream together.

step 6

6. After a few minutes of stirring, the ganache cream will be fully incorporated into the chocolate, but some unmelted chocolate lumps may still be present.

7. Continue stirring and eventually the lumps of chocolate that remain should fully dissolve. If they don’t, microwave the mixture for ten seconds, then continue stirring. Repeat until all the lumps disappear.

soft glossy ganache

Once the chocolate is fully melted, the ganache will be soft and glossy. It needs to firm up to a peanut butter consistency before it can be used as a filling or an icing and this process can take several hours. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the ganache to stop a sugar crust forming and leave at room temperature.

Jessica Harris demonstrates how to perfectly frost a cake using ganache and achieve perfectly sharp edges on both round and square cakes in her Clean and Simple Cake Design Craftsy class.

Ganache can be kept refrigerated for a couple of weeks and can be frozen for up to three months.

Because there is no specific ganache recipe – just a recommendation of chocolate to cream ratios – it is difficult to give any definitive advice about whether or not it needs refrigeration or not.

Baking 911 has lots more information about the science of making ganache and recommendations about keeping a ganached cake at room temperature.

Easy Cake Ideas has a wonderful list of ideas for flavoring your ganache including liqueurs, spices, fruit oils and nut butters.

So if you love chocolate and would love to get those super-sharp edges on your next cake, ganache might just be what you’ve been looking for! Now take your new ganache skills to the next level, and learn how to create a spherical ball cake.

ganache cake

Photo via The Royal Bakery

Comments

  1. Vivian Jaile says:

    Please please create a class that will include the LUSTER PAINT EFFECT it’s so beautiful and in Australia lots of decorators are using it …. Great great example The owner of Cake Face Mim… Her work and style are impeccable….

  2. Wendy says:

    Great tutorial and I love the photos! I want your scale:)

  3. Sally Rich says:

    Hi – thanks for this, really helpful!

    The cake at the top of the tutorial is beautiful – what is the technique you used for the bottom tier, it’s so pretty!x

  4. Thank you for sharing your Excel tool on making Ganache what a wonderful tool. I so love Craftsy.

  5. Kathy says:

    Nice tutorial – thank Lesley. Cakers in warmer climates might want to use a different ratio, especially for white chocolate which is not as stable. I live in sunny Queensland, Australia and in summer months use a or 3:1 or even 4:1 ratio of chocolate to cream. :-)

    1. Lesley says:

      Thanks, Kathy! The post above does actually specify 3:1 or 3.5:1 for white chocolate. It doesn’t get as hot here as it does in Australia in the summer, but I definitely need a higher ratio for white chocolate!

  6. Lesley says:

    Thanks for your comment, Vivian! I wish I could, but I learned this technique during a 3-day class at Baking Arts in San Francisco, and it wouldn’t be ethical of me to re-teach it. Maybe someone else can though!

  7. Lesley says:

    I just wanted to remind you that the Excel spreadsheet is by I Want Sprinkles, as mentioned in the post above. I can’t take any credit for it!

  8. Suzy says:

    If storing it in the fridge or freezer, how would you best recommend defrosting it or getting it back to it’s “peanut butter” consistency?

    1. Lesley says:

      I would take frozen ganache out of the freezer and let if thaw in the fridge overnight. Then I would let the cold ganache come to room temperature. It should still be too thick to spread, so then I microwave in 10 second bursts, mixing vigorously each time to bring all the ganache to the same temperature and consistency. Be very careful not to overheat as the ganache can turn grainy.

  9. cuen says:

    Hi Lesley, thank you for your post. I have been encountering problem with the ganache firming up, something which I have never encounter before. In the past, it works easy and perfect. But now, it just refuse to firm up. I am using valrhona 70% dark chocolate, attempting ratio of up to 3:1 (choc:cream) but it still don’t firm up. It stay quite soft that it makes it very difficult to cover the cake. I follow the exact same method that as your post. Would you be able to advise what are the possible reason?

  10. Margaret Garner says:

    ever heard oh couvert chocolate, where can you purchase it’s chocolate.

  11. deb says:

    Thank you for.sharing. :-) Great tips and I will be bookmarking to come.back whenever I need it.

  12. Lesley says:

    CUEN – it’s really hard to say. Unless you’ve changed your ingredients (brand of chocolate, type of cream) or changed your method of preparation, I really have no idea why anything should change. I recommend you make your ganache the day before you need it so it has a chance to properly firm up. Then microwave it to get it to spreading consistency, but only gently. You shouldn’t need 1 3:1 ratio with dark Valrhona, 2:1 should be plenty. Are you using heavy whipping cream or other cream with a fat content of at least 35%?

  13. Chrissy says:

    Thank you for this! I took jessicas class on craftsy, awesome! And I love you as well! My question is my fondant tore really bad because of the beautiful sharp edges, any suggestions?

    1. Lesley says:

      What brand of fondant did you use, Chrissy? Jessica’s class includes a fondant recipe that works perfectly for her and I also love Liz Marek’s LMF (you can find a recipe on another of my posts).

  14. Rachel says:

    thanks for the awesome tutorial Lesley! me and ganache are really not friends :( I do it exactly as you show, im in the UK and use whipping cream and chocolate with 37% cocoa soilds, but as soon as I begin to stir the chocolate and cream, it always ends up as a seperated greasy mess! Do you have any idea why this is?

    1. Lesley says:

      Is it possible that the cream is too hot? That’s normally why a split occurs. I let mine get just to the point where it starts to ‘grow’ in the pan. What kind of chocolate is it? Chips or bars or couverture? If it splits, it really shouldn’t matter. Just put it back in the fridge, set your oven timer for 5 minutes intervals and stir after every five minutes. I SHOULD come back to normal. Pour in a dribble of cold cream too, that helps.

      1. Rachel says:

        im using couverture bars that I chop just slightly smaller than the square size, i try to catch the cream just before it boils (little bubbles on the bottom of the pan when i tilt it?) I will definitely try the fridge and cream trick though, hadn’t thought of that before! thank you so much for your help :)

  15. Funke says:

    Hi Lesley, thanks for sharing your expertise on ganache. Some of my clients want carrot or lemon flavoured cakes. I was wondering if I could use ganache for these cakes or what would you recommend.

    1. Lesley says:

      I recommend using white chocolate ganache for this. You need a higher ratio of chocolate to cream – 3:1 is standard – but white chocolate seems to differ so dramatically that it’s best to experiment. With the good Belgian stuff 3:1 is fine, if I use Toll House chips, I go 4:1!

      1. Funke says:

        Thank you. Will give it a try

  16. Hi

    Does anyone have a recipe for white choc ganache which sets hard and if so what white choc would you recommend in the UK? Mine always turns out like white choc fudge which is delicious but no good for crumb coating :-0

  17. Tess Singh says:

    Thanks for that info – first time my ganache firmed up before I even finished the cake!! :D Gonna keep that ratio in the old noggin for years to come!

  18. hazel says:

    for the ratios is it in weight, cups or like chocolate is grams to cream which is ml

  19. What brand of chocolate do you recommend for White chocolate ganache?