How to make amazing ganache every time

In cake making, ganache is a basic requirement that should be mastered. As a cake maker and decorator it will make your life easier, tastier and give you more variety. Ganache is essentially cream and chocolate melted and then cooled. At Little Birdy Cakes, we use ganache for truffles, icing and decorations. The ratio of cream to chocolate differs depending on what you are using it for. Here is our take on ganache and how to make it work for you.

Does the quality of the ingredients affect the ganache?

Like most things, quality ingredients will make a huge difference to the end result. That doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive items, buy the best that you can afford. We recommend using Pauls Pure Cream over thickened cream and make sure the fat content is above 35%. Couverture chocolate is all the rage but for us mere mortals it is way out of our price range. It seems a waste for a cake that will most likely be consumed by your family (or yourself!) in one afternoon. Cadbury or Nestle melts/blocks (don’t use the chips as they won’t melt) are perfectly fine and are often on sale in the supermarket. We always use dark chocolate as it balances out the sweetness of the cake or buttercream. The ratios we use here are for dark chocolate only.

What are the correct rations of cream to chocolate?

For a filling, decoration or as a base for fondant, the ganache needs to be spreadable when applied to the cake. Once applied to the cake it sets firm and results in a perfect foundation for fondant. I would recommend a ratio of 2 parts dark chocolate to 1 part cream. For truffles and for icing, we recommend a ratio of 1:1, equal parts dark chocolate and cream. I have seen many different ratios for truffles however I find that when it comes to eating the truffle (as long as it is kept in the fridge) it is best with a 1:1 ratio.

I have resorted to straining my ganache, reheating on a double boiler or in the microwave or just being plain frustrated with the lumps.

At Little Birdy Cakes, we have experimented with various ganache techniques over the years. Most recipes heat the cream and then pour over the chocolate, allow it to stand and then mix until smooth. This method has not worked for me more often than it has. I have resorted to straining my ganache, reheating on a double boiler or in the microwave or just being plain frustrated with the lumps.

Ganache as icing

So how do you make the perfect ganache every time?

About a year ago, I stumbled upon a recipe by Heston Blumenthal that changed the way I made my ganache. Rather than pouring the cream over the chocolate, you heat both and then mix together. First you melt the chocolate in a double boiler on one stove top and heat the cream in a saucepan next to it. I normally start melting the chocolate first due to it taking longer to melt. The cream does not need to boil or simmer, it just needs to be approx. the same temperature as the chocolate. Turn both hot plates off and gradually add the cream to the chocolate, about a cup at a time. Stir until completely combined before adding the next cup. And like magic, smooth and silky ganache with NO LUMPS.

And like magic, smooth and silky ganache with NO LUMPS.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
Dark chocolate ganache with just two ingredients and the simplest method.
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Ingredients
  1. 200g Dark Chocolate
  2. 200g Pure Cream (weigh your cream so it is exactly equal to the chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Weigh out your chocolate into the mixing bowl.
  2. Measure the same amount of cream into the small saucepan. I recommend weighing your cream to make sure you have exact ratios.
  3. Place about 2cm of water in the large saucepan and put over medium/high heat with the lid on. Bring the water to boil.
  4. Once the water has boiled, turn down to the lowest setting or off, remove the lid and place the mixing bowl over the top. The bowl should not touch the water.
  5. Stir until the chocolate has melted completely.
  6. Meanwhile, slowly heat the cream over low/medium heat on a second hotplate. The cream should be hot but not boiling.
  7. Once the chocolate has melted and the cream is the same temperature, add the cream to the chocolate, one cup at a time. Stir until completely combined before adding the next cup.
  8. Once all the cream has been added, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  9. When the ganache is cooled it can be added to your cake.
Notes
  1. If you are making truffles, place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. Once the ganache is firm, simply roll tablespoons into balls and roll in your favourite coating (e.g. cocoa powder, coconut, pistachios).
Little Birdy Cakes https://www.littlebirdycakes.com.au/

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