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~ Chocolate Ganache: What It is & How to Make It! ~

IMG_4430Ganache (gahn-AHSH) is a fancy word that scares a lot of novice foodies.  I won't lie, there was a time in my foodie life when it scared me too.  So, when I got this question e-mailed to me from a reader yesterday, I decided to take a few minutes this afternoon to write a blog post about it!

IMG_9635Q.  Lynn says and asks:  I was given a quart of pie cherries by my neighbor and  I made your ~ Sour Cherry and White Chocolate Bread Pudding ~ yesterday (without the dehydrated sour cherries because I didn't have any). It was the first time I have ever made bread pudding and I couldn't believe how easy it is.  My family gobbled it up.  My husband loves white chocolate and his birthday is next week.  I found a recipe for an easy almond torte, which gets served chilled with warm chocolate sauce.  I would like to top it with ganache instead. Do you think that would work?  I have never made ganache and am hoping you have an easy recipe for it.  Also, can I make ganache with white chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate chips?

A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Lynn!  You made my day with your comment and feedback.  Allow me make your day by telling you: Yes, even though I haven't seen your torte recipe, I'm rather certain you can top it with ganache, especially since it gets served chilled;  Yes, you can make ganache with white chocolate, although I recommend using high-quality chocolate to make any type of ganache rather than run-of-the-mill chocolate chips* and;    

Ganache is so easy to make you almost don't need a recipe!

IMG_9901*A bit about chocolate chips:  Chocolate chips are made to be somewhat heat-resistant.  They have less cocoa butter than high-quality chocolate, which means that when you melt them, they end up being grainy and do not set up properly.  They're fine to use in recipes that are supposed to have actual "chocolate chips" in them:  cookies, muffins, ice cream, etc.  They should be treated and used like candy rather than couverture (professional quality coating chocolate).

A bit about ganache:  Ganache is a rich frosting/filling classically made with semisweet chocolate and heated heavy cream which are stirred together until the chocolate has melted to a dense chocolate cream.  The mixture is cooled to lukewarm then poured over cakes or tortes to create a glassy-smooth surface (occasionally butter is added to make it glossier).  When cooled to room temperature, the mixture can be whipped to twice its volume, to a mousse-like consistency,  then piped onto cakes and into pastries as well.  Chilled ganache is what classic chocolate truffles are made of.  A small amount of liqueur or flavoring can be added if desired.

Ganach recipes can vary slightly in the ratio of chocolate to cream.  Here is my standard recipe:

IMG_44175  ounces dark (semi-sweet) chocolate, the best quality available to you, at room temperature, chopped into small pieces

1/2  cup heavy or whipping cream + 2 tablespoons

Note:  Double or triple the recipe, depending on how much ganache is needed.  Just remember to increase the size of the mixing bowl to allow plenty of room for stirring.

IMG_4425~ Step 1.  Chop the chocolate as directed and place in a small heatproof bowl.

~ Step 2.  In a small saucepan (or in the microwave), heat the cream until steaming, but not boiling.  Do not allow to simmer or boil.

~ Step 3.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and set aside for 2 minutes.

Note:  I always time this.  Two minutes is the magic number!

IMG_4426~ Step 4.  Using a small whisk or an ordinary tablespoon, vigorously whisk (stir), until all of the cream is drawn into the chocolate and the mixture is smooth, uniform in color and shiny.

~ Step 5.  Cool to desired temperature and use as directed in recipe. 

Note:  Culinarily, this bowl of ooey-gooey chocolately goodness is referred to as ganache!  How easy was that!!!

IMG_4428Chocolate Ganache:  What It is & How to Make It!:  Recipe yeilds 1 1/4 cups.

Special Equipment List:  heatproof bowl; 1-cup measuring container; small saucepan (optional); whisk or tablespoon

IMG_4450Cook's Note: Looking for a crowd pleasing, family-friendly, easy-to-prepare dessert and reason to make ganache?  My recipe for ~ Treat Yourself to a Slice of Peanut Butter Cup Pie ~ can be found in Categories 6, 11, 15 or 22.  This can be made several days in advance of serving too!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 


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