The taste and quality of the ganache is primarily dependent on the quality of chocolate you start with. Remember not all chocolates are the same. It is important to use a 'pure' chocolate, that is, chocolate that contains just chocolate liquor, sugar,butter, vanilla, and lecithin. You do not want to use a chocolate that has vegetable fat listed as an ingredient. Chocolate begins with the beans from the tropical treeTheobroma which translates to "Food of the Gods". There are three types of cacao beans (Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario) and the type and/or blend of beans, their quality, and where they are grown all contribute to the quality and taste of the chocolate. Other factors affecting taste and quality are how the beans are roasted, how the beans are ground into a mass called chocolate liquor, how much extra cocoa is added to the chocolate liquor, quality and amount of other ingredients added, and how long the chocolate liquor is conched (processed). But most importantly, choose a chocolate that you would also enjoy eating out of hand. A chocolate with a velvety smooth texture will produce a ganache that is velvety smooth. If you like semi sweet chocolate, then you would probably want to use a chocolate with no more than 58% cacao content. The cacao percentage tells us the amount of cacao, that is, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter, the chocolate contains in relation to the amount of sugar. Therefore, a chocolate with a 58% cacao means that it has 58% cacao and 42% sugar. (As a side note, the cocoa butter gives the chocolate that melt-in-your-mouth consistently.)
Besides the chocolate, a Ganache contains cream, in this case heavy "whipping" cream, or double cream. This is cream with a butterfat content of between 35 - 40%. Now, not all heavy creams taste the same.
This is my tried and true recipe for ganache
- 12 ounces chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- optional 2 tablespoons flavored liqueor
- Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Allow ganache to cool before pouring over cakes as a glaze. The longer you allow the ganache to cool, the thicker it will set. Typically I stick mine in the refrigerator so it is slightly cold before whipping. For piping or frosting, allow the ganache to completely cool and set up. When you are able to spoon the ganache and it can hold its texture, it is ready for piping.