As I sat at San Francisco International airport heading back to Vancouver after a recent conference I was reflecting on a fond moment from Christmas - making a deadly chocolate mousse (recipe at bottom of this post). Though my blog does talk a lot about all things food related I do at times consider myself a reluctant cook at times. Between work and family responsibilities I do struggle to bring out my inner Gordon Ramsay and whip up a work of culinary art!
That being said, I love dark and milk chocolate and generally all things sweet. In this post I want to share with you why I think learning to make chocolate ganache is a skill worth investing in. Whether you're looking to save some money or you're looking to impress your loved ones let's briefly go over why you (and me for that matter) should learn to make this treat.
- It's simple to make and requires very few ingredients, so it's perfect for novice cooks. We'll talk about a few variants and how to make them.
- Making chocolate ganache allows you to control the quality of ingredients that go into your food – no more mystery additives from store-bought products here!
- Chocolate mousse with Amaretto - need I say anything more?
So what is ganache?
Ganache is a type of chocolate confection. It consists of a chocolate emulsion made with melted dark or semi-sweet chocolate, heavy cream (or other liquid fat), and sugar, then mixed to form a smooth and creamy mixture. The resulting product can range from thick to thin based on the amount of cream added.
Ganache has many uses in baking and pastry making. Its main purpose is either as a filling or chocolate ganache frosting for chocolate cake, chocolate truffles, candies, whipped ganache in eclairs, and even tarts. Additionally, it can be used as an ingredient for producing mousse dishes such as crème brûlée or as a pourable glaze for decoration purposes.
The flavor profile of ganache will vary depending on the types or quality of the ingredients being used but typically there are notes of cocoa butter, rich dairy flavors like caramelized milk solids in the case of sweetened varieties, roasted nuts (such as hazelnuts), liqueurs like rum and brandy - all blended together to create an exquisite taste sensation! My personal favorite is the addition of Amaretto to give that amazing almond flavor.
Ganaches have become increasingly popular among professional bakers due to their versatility while their comparatively fast preparation time makes them attractive to home bakers given their ability to produce impressive results with minimal effort.
So what is the most basic and foolproof way to make ganache?
Basic Chocolate Ganache Recipe
Making ganache is a quick, foolproof process that will guarantee you the perfect result every time. To make a ganache, start by:
- Melting high-quality bittersweet chocolate or semi sweet chocolate chips (I used these Hershey's chips in my mousse) in a double boiler. The "double boiler method" is just a fancy way of saying "place a bowl over with your chocolate over hot water. Alternately you can try microwaving at short intervals to prevent burning the chocolate. The key takeaway is you don't want to burn your chocolate. I prefer the double boiler method as the heat is not being applied directly to the chocolate itself.
- Once melted, add cream and mix until completely blended together. The ratio of cream to chocolate will determine the consistency of your ganache; typically it’s 1 part cream to 2 parts chocolate for an easy pouring consistency, but can be adjusted as desired.
- After you have achieved your desired consistency, let it cool.
Some variants (with different methods) you can try:
Dark Chocolate Ganache Recipe
Here's what you'll need to get started:
- 16 ounces of dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur or extract (optional)
- Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.
- In a small saucepan bring the cream and butter to just before boiling.
- Remove from heat and pour cream over the chips, making sure all are covered.
- Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir until completely smooth and glossy. If using any additional flavorings such as liqueurs or extracts, add them at this time stirring until fully combined into the mixture.
- Allow cooling for 15 minutes before use as desired.
Dark Chocolate Ganache can be used in multiple ways including filling truffles, icing cakes or cookies, poured over ice cream sundaes, and melted with fruits for dipping - so many possibilities!
White Chocolate Ganache Recipe
To start, you'll need:
- 8 ounces of high-quality white chocolate. Chop it into small pieces, then set aside in a bowl. Alternately use white chocolate chips.
- In a separate pot or saucepan heat ½ cup heavy cream over medium heat until it simmers but doesn’t boil—this will help preserve the creamy texture of your ganache later on.
- Once hot, pour over the chopped chocolate and let sit for about 1 minute so that the chocolate can begin to melt from the warmth of cream.
- After one minute has passed, mix with either an electric hand mixer or spoon until smooth and creamy (you do not want any lumps).
- Pour onto desired surface for coating desserts like cake or pastries—but keep in mind that this mixture takes time to cool before hardening enough to coat effectively!
- Let sit at room temperature for two hours prior to use if necessary depending on how thick you need your ganache layer to be...enjoy!
Control the Ingredients
I'm probably explaining the obvious; It is important to control the ingredients that go into your food for several reasons. First and foremost, by controlling what goes into your food, you can ensure that you are eating healthy and nutritious meals. Now talking about good nutrition is somewhat ironic given that we're on the topic of desserts, however like all things moderation is key!
Another reason why it's important to be aware of what goes into your food is that some foods contain artificial flavors or preservatives which can cause people with allergies or sensitivities to become sick. Knowing exactly where each ingredient came from makes it easier for those with allergies or sensitivities to identify which items they should avoid when consuming certain foods.
Finally, controlling the ingredients in one’s food allows individuals to experiment with recipes without making them unhealthy or unsafe. Understanding what does not go into a recipe allows cooks the freedom to test out new dishes without introducing risky components that could make someone ill if consumed improperly.
By becoming conscious of every ingredient used when preparing meals, individuals can stay safe and maintain a healthy diet by knowing exactly where their ingredients come from and being mindful of any potential allergens present within them. An immediate example I think of is dairy sensitivity. Being able to substitute heavy cream for a dairy or lactose-free alternative is a great option.
So we've talked about the basics of making a ganache, and the virtues of being able to control your ingredients for varying dietary needs. Now let's talk about making my mouse!
Chocolate Mousse with Amaretto
To make this decadent dessert, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 2 egg whites
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup of heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons of sugar;
- tablespoons of Amaretto liqueur
- ½ cup (or about 7 ounces) of semisweet chocolate chips
- Start by melting your chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave in short bursts until smooth and creamy.
- In a separate bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat the cream until it forms soft peaks.
- Then, add half of the sugar and mix until incorporated.
- In another bowl mix together one tablespoon of sugar with the two egg whites until thick and glossy—this should take around 5 minutes on high speed on your electric hand mixer or stand mixer.
- Next, combine your melted chocolate with both the whipped cream and Amaretto liqueur then slowly fold in your beaten egg whites into this mixture before transferring to individual serving dishes or one larger container for storing once cooled in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours (or overnight).
Once chilled thoroughly, you have yourself a beautiful (and deliciously boozy) Chocolate Mousse With Amaretto that everyone will love!
So thanks for sticking around and reading this far. Even if you're a somewhat reluctant cook (like me) I hope you take the culinary leap and dive into this delicious treat!