Ganache is a French word that roughly translates to smooth, chocolate lava. 🀣🀣 Just kidding!

Ganache is a French word. That part is true. But origin of the word itself is really confusing- I looked it up and walked away with more questions than answers.

Luckily, you don’t need to know all about ganache’s past in order to appreciate it in the present. And, in my house, the only French you need to know is: c’est trΓ¨s delicieux! (Can you crack my impenetrable French code? Can you?) But I digress from the point. We’re here to talk about ganache, not linguistics.

Oh, ganache. That super-smooth liquid chocolate that, once it hardens, can hold its shape.

It’s incredibly stuff. Incredibly tasty that is. And can be a really beautiful garnish. All of which makes it a great trick to have up your sleeve when it comes to decorating cakes!

In fact, there is a decorating technique called a “drip cake” that’s all the rage right now. And drip cakes capitalizes on these traits that are so unique to ganache. It actually uses a ganache to create drips down the side of the cake that appear frozen-in-time once the ganache hardens in place. Here’s an example of a killer drip cake:

However, ganache can be delicate.

So it’s important that the ingreidents you use to make your ganache are stored at the right temperature. If your heavy whipping cream freezes, then it will not react properly inside of your ganache.

And, all the sudden, your glorious ganache could just be the finishing touch that ruins your otherwise perfect cake. (Trust me on this… It’s happened to me- and it’s soul crushing. 😭) Just see “Exhibit B: My Truly Tragic Drip Cake:”

There’s nothing more tragic than a failed ganache… Trust me. I know.

How do you make a chocolate ganache, you ask?

You use a double broiler, of course! Or, if you don’t own one, (like me) you can use my substitute method. And, since I use this substitutive method to make my ganache, that’s the method that I’m going to teach you.

Now, the whole point of a double broiler is to harness the power of steam to slowly warm your ingreidents.

I start by taking a saucepan (PIC) and filling it with water. The water doesn’t have to be anything special- you only need it to boil to create the steam. Then, put a heat resistant bowl over the top of the saucepan so that there are no gaps. This traps the steam so you can use it. If you do gaps between your bowl and the saucepan, this will either slow down or, if the gaps are really big, it will stop the process from working entirely.

Like I said back in the very beginning, heat resistant bowls are made of either glass or metal. But, if you want to be 100% sure, check the bottom of your bowl. The heat tolerance should be printed into the bottom of it. (Emphasis on “should-” it might not printed on all products.)

Bring your water to a rolling bowl- you wanna see lots of bubbles!- which will happen faster if you put a lid over your pan to trap the heat. (You totally don’t need a lid- but it will take longer to bring your water to boil without one.) Once you have a rolling boil, add your chocolate and heavy whipping cream to the bowl. Then whisk, or use a spoon, to mix the two together until homogenous.

You’ll know the ganache is ready when it’s glossy, super smooth, and looks like runny chocolate syrup. Once your ganache is done, you want to remove it from the heat and allow it cool.

Now that you’ve made your ganache, it’s time to drip, drip, drip! πŸ’§

In order to get the drip effect, you’re going to need a squeeze bottle. It doesn’t have to be fancy- I bought mine from Walmart for a couple bucks and it works great. And, while it’s less important, I’d also recommend buying a funnel to help with getting the ganache from the bowl into the squeeze bottle. However, if you have super steady hands, you can save yourself the dollar.

Now, since my squeeze bottle’s made of plastic, it’s important that I let the ganache cool down before I pour it into my squeeze bottle. (You know, because plastic can melt.)

Once the bottle’s full of ganache you’re going to want to hold the tip of the bottle right at the edge of your frosted cake. Right where the top and the side come together. Hold the bottle at roughly a 45 degree angle (I say roughly because you still want the bottle to feel comfortable in your grip) then gently squeeze the bottle to make the ganache come out.

I recommend alternating the length of the drips at random; do this by squeezing the bottle for a longer duration then a shorter duration for the next drip. You’ll notice that the longer you squeeze the bottle in one place, the longer drip you will create. Pretty straightforward. And, to finish the entire cake, simply move your hand in a circle (either direction) adding drips along the edge of your cake.

If desired, squeeze additional ganache onto the tippy top of your cake. Like so:

This way, it looks like the ganache on the top has spilled over the edges to create those drips. And, just like a comic book character, it gives you an origin story. If you want to do this, I cannot recommend enough that you use an offset spatula. This will help you smooth and level the ganache across the cake’s surface.

But ganache can be a great decorating finish even if you’re not making a drip cake.

You can actually spread a ganache straight on your cake like a wanna-be frosting! The only trick here is to use the ganache when it’s at the right temperature. 🌑

It can’t be too hot or too cold when you spread it on your cake. If it’s too hot, it will be super thin and run right off your cake. Too cold and it will be really hard to spread so that it looks pretty. Why? Because as soon as it starts to cool, the chocolate in the ganache will start to harden and hold its shape. Which is the exact same reason why we love it for drip cakes. But it works against us when we’re using it as a frosting.

So what happens if you miss your Goldie Locks temperature window? Well, if its gotten too cold, apply some heat the the bowl and stir. And if it’s too hot, simply wait for it to cool down. All of this just so that you’ll have a nice, spreadable consistency when you apply it to your cake. Because with ganache, the temperature is the key to the consistency.

But wait, there’s more! You can also whip ganache with an electric beater to make a whipped ganache frosting!

Literally just beat some air into a room temperature ganache and you’re done. And it makes for a super sweet, delightfully rich two-ingredient frosting. πŸ˜‹ You’ll know it’s done when the ganache has lightened in color by one or two shades and holds the indents left behind by the whisk– like whipped cream does when you get to the soft peak stage.

Just don’t endlessly beat the ganache or it will get overwhipped. However, if you want to dial back the whipping you’ll end up with a smoother, less aeriated whipped ganache. The choice is up to you and depends entirely on the aesthetic you’re going for.

Is there any other kind of ganache, other than chocolate ganache?

No… But also yes. Just bear with me here for a sec.

You can really only make a ganache using chocolate. However, you can substitute regular chocolate for white chocolate. The double broiler melting technique will work the same for either type of chocolate. And, if you do use white chocolate, you can actually add food coloring to dye the ganache any color you want.

So to summarize: Ganache is made with chocolate; but if you want to make a white chocolate ganache recipe, by all means have fun with it!

Now that you’ve learned how to use chocolate to decorate, it’s time to move on to a new decoration technique!

This next Lesson looks at the most diversely versatile decoration in the whole course. Are you ready to jump head first into fondant? If you said yes, click the Next Lesson button to start learning more! (And if you said no, click it anyways. You’ll learn something cool and you’ll end up happy that you did.)