Chocolate Ganache Icing, Step-by-Step

  • Serves: Makes about 3 cups
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I think this is one of my first step-by-step tutorials that I did for this website back in 2000. I always had a vision of wanting to post informative recipes with color photos. We started out with small photos and have since enlarged ad expanded this format. This website has grown so much since that time.

All ganache starts out with a rich mixture made from varying proportions of chopped chocolate and boiled heavy pastuerized cream, cooled to various degrees of temperature and mixed in certain ways, yielding different uses. Ganache can be flavored, as in this recipe with raspberry candy oil or have extra ingredients added, such as butter for richness, and corn syrup for shine! This is used in our Bûche de Noël or Christmas Yule Log Cake Recipe.

At first glance, it appears that ganache is a simple mixture of just two ingredients, heavy cream and chocolate. But, there's a lot more science going on behind the scenes to give you a successful ganache mixture that won't separate, become grainy, hard, crack, curdle or firm.


Ganache is a really a complex combination of an emulsification and a suspension that occurs between the chocolate and cream ingredients. To emulsify the chocolate and cream, the cream is first heated which reduces its water content. The hot cream is poured over the chocolate and it melts after sitting for a few minutes. They are slowly mixed together. The waiting time also serves to bring down its temperature down because emulsions form better at 90 degrees to 110 degrees F. The emulsification takes place by the combination of work or stirring, which breaks down the fat in both the cream and chocolate into microscopic droplets, small enough to be suspended within the water - and the use of an emulsifier to stabilize the system, or fatty acids present in the milk.

12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon raspberry candy oil, optional; or your choice of 2 tablespoons liqueur, or 1 to 2 teaspoons extracts

1. Using a serrated knife, finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces.
SARAH SAYS: You want evenly sized pieces so all of the chocolate melts at the same time.

2. Assemble all ingredients. Place chopped chocolate in a medium size heat-proof mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer.

3. Bring the cream to a boil over low heat while stirring constantly. Boiling means the cream will actually rise up in the pan and threaten to boil over. Make sure there is still steam rising from the pot. While the cream boils, it measures 212 degrees F.

4. Let the cream mixture cool. When the temperature of the cream has decreased to about 110 F, measured with an Instant Read Thermometer - insert tip in the middle of the hot cream after stirring - begin slowly pouring the cream (its temperature will have decreased, but if it goes below 90 degrees F, briefly reheat it) into the chopped chocolate.

Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream mixture, making certain that the chocolate is thoroughly dispersed throughout the cream. Then, let it sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add too much air to the ganache. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. It may look done after 1 minute of stirring, but keep going to be sure it's emulsified.

5. Optionally, flavor chocolate mixture with the raspberry candy oil.

6. Refrigerate ganache until the mixture has reached 90 degrees.

7. Transfer the ganache to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. (You can prepare the ganache in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer.) Whip at medium speed with the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, until it has the consistency of soft butter and it lightens in color.
SARAH SAYS: Do not overbeat otherwise the ganache will become grainy.

Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the ganache and set aside until needed in the recipe, for about a day or two at the cool side of room temperature, and then it must be refrigerated. It will keep for a few days refrigerated.
Beating ganache causes its shelf life will be decreased because you are introducing air into the mixture. Rebeat with a large wire whisk once it reaches room temperature, if necessary.

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