Chocolate ganache is one of the most versatile ingredients used by dessert chefs but is simple enough to be prepared by home chefs. Ganache can be poured over cakes for a shiny silken topping, chilled and rolled into luscious truffles, whipped into a light consistency to be used as a filling or frosting, or added to plain frostings or whipped cream to add chocolaty goodness. Anyone can make ganache and no special tools are needed to whip up a batch of the rich delight.
The classic ganache is made of only two ingredients: good quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and heavy cream. The word ganache is French for, "cushion," since the cream serves to offset the intense flavor and soften the hard texture of the chocolate. Some recipes call for the addition of flavoring agents such as liqueur or for added fat in the form of sweet butter while cooks with an eye on their waistlines may sacrifice a bit of luxurious shine and texture in the finished product by substituting water or milk for some of the cream.
No matter whether you stick to the two basic ingredients or play with them by adding others, the method remains the same:
Cream is brought just to the boil. Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over a bowl of chopped chocolate.
Allow the mixture to stand, covered, for a few moments, until the chocolate is softened. Whisk until smooth. Some cooks prefer to allow the mixture to then cool overnight at room temperature.
The uses of ganache are myriad. It can be used as a glaze for coating petit fours, cakes, éclairs, or soufflés. Ganache has an amazing sheen and will grace your desserts with gorgeous, chocolaty shine. For a glaze you can pour, use equal amounts of chocolate and cream. This should yield a pourable glaze that will set up shiny and soft. Some cooks like to enhance the shine of the ganache by adding butter or a bit of light corn syrup.
If you have left your prepared ganache to cool overnight at room temperature and wish to use it as a pourable glaze, you will need to use a double boiler to melt the ganache to a pourable consistency. Make sure you stir the ganache often as you reheat it for glazing. When ready, it will be smooth and shiny. You can also warm ganache in a fondue pot where it is ideal as a dessert fondue, served with fresh cut fruit and cubes of pound cake, ready for the dipping.