Some of the most satisfying desserts are rich and chocolaty, like flourless chocolate cake, chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and chocolate cheesecake bars. These over-the-top desserts have something in common: They taste amazing when slathered with chocolate ganache. But you don't have to dine at a fancy restaurant in order to enjoy these decadent treats—we'll show you how to make chocolate ganache right in your own kitchen.
What is chocolate ganache?
Chocolate ganache is a luscious combination of cream and melted chocolate. It has a gorgeous shine and a fudge-like texture (although there are differences between fudge and ganache). It comes in a few different forms.
- Pourable ganache: Cooled at room temperature, pourable ganache has a smooth and velvety texture. It gives cakes, like this ganache-topped chocolate cake, a silky glaze.
- Spreadable ganache: Chilled slightly, spreadable ganache has a thicker consistency. Use it as a fruit dip, or pipe it onto cupcakes or into these buttery ganache cookie cups.
- Whipped ganache: Its light and fluffy texture comes from whisking cooled or chilled ganache. This type is great as a frosting for cupcakes or cakes, including our three-layer chocolate ganache cake.
You can make pourable or spreadable ganache by following our chocolate ganache recipe below. From there, it only takes one extra step to make whipped ganache.
Chocolate Ganache Ingredients
- Heavy whipping cream: For the best silky texture, stick to heavy cream. (If you're in a pinch, see our note on substitutes below.)
- Semisweet chocolate chips: These are the best chocolate chips, according to our Test Kitchen's blind taste test. A finely chopped chocolate bar would work, too. Whatever form you use, make sure it's a good-quality chocolate.
Test Kitchen Tip: Depending on the dessert you're making, the ingredient ratios may vary. But no matter the quantities of chocolate and cream called for, the procedure for how to make chocolate ganache is generally the same.
Step 1: Heat the cream
Gently heat the cream on the stove in a heavy saucepan. If your recipe calls for any additional ingredients, like sugar, salt or corn syrup, you can whisk them in here, too.
In the meantime, place your chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.
Test Kitchen Tip: Avoid over-boiling the cream—liquid that’s too hot can overheat the fat in the chocolate, causing it to separate.
Step 2: Combine the cream and chocolate
Once the cream reaches a simmer or low boil, remove it from the heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then whisk thoroughly until you have smooth ganache.
Test Kitchen Tip: Remember to let the cream and chocolate meld before you begin whisking. If you start mixing immediately, the cream will cool too quickly and the ganache could become grainy.
Step 3: Let the ganache set
How you approach this step will vary slightly depending on how you'll use the ganache.
- For pourable ganache: Cool at room temperature until the mixture thickens slightly. It should be 85° to 90°F.
- For spreadable ganache: Chill in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally, until the ganache reaches your desired consistency.
- For whipped ganache: Let it cool, then use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whisk the ganache until it is fluffy and more pale in color.
Test Kitchen Tip: If your chilled ganache becomes too stiff to use, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it's the right consistency. Just be mindful not to heat for longer intervals—you never want to overheat chocolate.
How to Use Chocolate Ganache
One of the most common ways to use pourable chocolate ganache is as a shiny cake glaze. For this, place the cake on a cooling rack nested in a rimmed sheet pan. Use a glass liquid measuring cup to slowly pour slightly cooled ganache over your cake, letting the ganache drip over the edges. Then use an offset spatula to smooth and evenly coat the cake, working quickly before the ganache thickens.
But there are many other ways to use ganache, depending on the recipe you're following. Here are a few ideas to inspire you.
- Drizzle it over desserts: Instead of covering a cake with ganache, lightly drizzle it on a cheesecake or pie.
- Use it as a tart filling: If you pour ganache into a tart shell and let it set—like we did in this salted dark chocolate tart recipe—it becomes a delicious filling.
- Swap in white baking chips: For a different look and taste, make ganache using white baking chips instead of chocolate chips. You can even add food coloring, like we did for this confetti birthday drip cake.
How to Store Ganache
Keep ganache in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you're ready to use the ganache, gently heat it up in a double boiler or microwave it in 10-second intervals, stirring in between, until it reaches the consistency you need.
You can also freeze ganache for up to three months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge, then heat it as described above.
How to Store Ganache-Covered Desserts
It's safe to keep ganache desserts at room temperature for a day or two. Beyond that, pop them into the refrigerator (if they last that long).
No matter where you store it, our Test Kitchen recommends gently covering the dessert with foil or placing it under an inverted glass bowl to keep air out. Avoid using plastic wrap, which tends to stick to the ganache.
Chocolate Ganache Tips
What can you substitute for heavy cream in ganache?
There are plenty of substitutes for heavy cream. For ganache, stirring melted butter into 2% milk works well. You could also use sweetened condensed milk. If you're looking for a dairy-free alternative, try coconut cream (and don't forget to use dairy-free chocolate chips).
Can you fix broken ganache?
Yes! If your ganache separates or becomes grainy, add a bit more liquid and whisk until it becomes smooth. You can also warm it slightly on the stove over low heat—be sure to whisk constantly. You need just a whisper of heat to remelt the chocolate.
Can you put ganache on a warm cake?
You shouldn't. For best results, let your cake cool completely before topping it with ganache.
Sarah Farmer, Taste of Home Executive Culinary Director, contributed to this article.