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Ganache is a rich concoction of cream and chocolate, used for frosting cakes, filling truffles, or pouring over decadent desserts. Making ganache is possible for a novice cook, but can be perfected by using a few great tips. To make perfect ganache, use the right ingredients, consider mixing in additional flavors, and pay attention to consistency. For a shorter preparation time, don't be afraid to incorporate a few handy appliances, like the microwave and food processor.
The right ingredients are key to imbuing ganache with a rich flavor and achieving the right texture. Consider purchasing a block of couverture chocolate from a baking supply store, which will usually contain high levels of cocoa butter. Dark, semi-sweet chocolate is usually considered the best option for flavorful ganache, as lighter milk chocolate may taste thin or weak. When choosing cream, look for fresh, heavy whipping cream. Using half-and-half or milk will usually result in a less-rich taste and a thinner texture.
Additional flavors can increase the luxuriousness and versatility of ganache. For truffle fillings, consider adding liqueurs, such as amaretto, brandy, Irish cream, or dark rum. Combining whipped ganache with fresh raspberries or a dollop of fig jam can create a fantastic filling for a layer cake. If a truly powerful flavor is desired, consider adding a small amount of strong coffee or espresso, which can add dimension and depth to the natural chocolate flavors.
The right consistency for ganache will depend on how it is meant to be used. When first combined, the chocolate and hot cream should have a thin, liquid texture that can be used for glazing cream puffs. After the mixture has cooled, it can be whipped into a fluffy frosting, perfect for cakes and cupcakes. For a truffle filling, the chocolate should be partially melted with butter, then mixed with a lesser amount of heated cream. This mixture creates a smoother, softer filling that will contrast well with the crisp outer shell of a truffle.
While traditional recipes call for a double boiler and hand-chopped chocolate, never forget that ganache will taste just as good with a few modern conveniences. Microwaving cream rather than cooking it on the stove can save cooking time and reduce the amount of cleanup needed. Using high-quality dark chocolate chips can prevent a lengthy period of chopping. To ensure an even mixture, allow hot cream and chocolate to sit for two minutes in the bowl of a food processor, then pulse briefly.