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Oh My Ganache! How to Make & Decorate With Chocolate Ganache

Smooth and silky, ganache is the cake world’s most delicious workhouse. It is simply a combination of chocolate and cream, the good stuff you find in the center of a chocolate truffle.

Bowl of thick ganache

But did you know you can use ganache inside, outside and all around your cake? It can be made with any type of chocolate — dark, semi-sweet, milk and white — to suit the flavor of your cake. Best of all, ganache is incredibly quick to make, easy to use, delicious to eat and simple to store.

In this post, we’ll talk about the best uses for ganache, how to frost a cake it in and even give you some options that go beyond just using cream.

The 3 best ways to use ganache for cake decorating

Cake filling

Ganache that has cooled and thickened makes for a decadent cake filling, like in the opera cake shown above. Just remember, ganache is much denser and richer than buttercream, so you may want to use less.

Want something a little lighter? Whip some air into your ganache with a hand or stand mixer to make a fluffy filling for cakes and pastries. You can even add it to your favorite buttercream for a super creamy chocolate frosting!

Drips and glazes

Ice cream cone drip cake

Photo via Craftsy bloggers Juniper Cakery

Just-made ganache can be poured on top of cakes and nudged over the side with a spoon or small spatula for drippy cakes. It also makes for a great dip for fruit, cookies or other decorations. If your ganache is too thick, change your ratio to add a bit more cream or warm it slightly.

Cake finishes

Square cake flat frosted in chocolate ganache

Photo via Craftsy instructor Jessica Harris

Because ganache firms up so well, it makes icing a cake with straight sides and razor-sharp edges a snap. It’s the perfect undercoat for neat and tidy fondant cakes. Ganache needs to firm up to a peanut butter consistency before it can be used as a filling or an icing, and this process can take several hours.

Choosing your ingredients

whisking cream and chocolate

To make ganache, you simply steep chocolate in hot cream until it melts then mix to combine. The method for making ganache is the same, no matter the type of chocolate you use. The only thing that changes is the ratio of chocolate to cream.

Making ganache with different types of chocolate

Generally, the higher the content of cocoa butter in the chocolate (the darker it is), the less cream you need.

  • For dark chocolate, the ratio is 2:1 — twice as much chocolate as cream
  • For semi-sweet or milk chocolate, a 2.5:1 ratio is usually successful
  • For white chocolate, a ratio of 3:1 or even 3.5:1 is recommended.

Choosing your chocolate

Generally speaking, better-quality chocolate yields better ganache. The more cocoa butter, the better. It will give you the most stable results. igh-quality chocolate bars work great.

Skip the baking chips and buy the good stuff. Chocolate chips from the supermarket have chemicals that keep them melting, which is good for your cookies, but not your ganache.

Cream for ganache

The cream you use needs a butterfat content of at least 35 percent. In the United States, that’s heavy whipping cream. In the United Kingdom, use whipping cream.

Measuring the ingredients

For the best results, weigh both your chocolate and cream. If you don’t have a scale, an ounce of cream is about the same as a fluid ounce. Measuring your chocolate by volume is not recommended as a cup of chocolate chips is far more than a cup of broken chocolate from a bar.

How much cream and chocolate you use depends on how much ganache you want to make and the size of the cake you need to cover. To frost the outside of an 8″ round cake, you’ll need about a pound (450 g) of chocolate and 8 ounces (225 g) of cream — more if you’re planning on filling it with ganache too, or want a thick outside layer.

How to make ganache

This tutorial is for dark chocolate ganache, but know that the process is exactly the same no matter what type of chocolate you’re using. Just remember the ratios above!

Step 1:

Photo of chopped up chocolate in a bowl

Ganache tutorial photos via Erin Bakes

Break or chop your chocolate into bite-size pieces and place in a microwavable bowl.

Step 2:

Weigh half as much cream into a small saucepan. Bring the cream to a boil. Cream can scorch easily, so remove it from the heat just after it comes to a boil. 

Step 3

Chocolate steeped in boiling cream

Photo via Erin Bakes

Pour the heated cream over the chocolate. Submerge the chocolate beneath the level of the cream and leave undisturbed for a couple of minutes.

Step 4:

Mixing cream and chocolate together

Photo via Erin Bakes

After a couple of minutes, start gently stirring the melted chocolate and cream together.

Smooth creamy ganache in bowl

Photo via Erin Bakes

After a few minutes of stirring, the cream will be fully incorporated into the chocolate, but some unmelted chocolate lumps may still be present. Continue stirring and eventually the lumps of chocolate should fully dissolve. If they don’t, microwave the mixture for 10 seconds, then continue stirring. Repeat until all the lumps disappear. 

Ganache troubleshooting

While ganache is fairly straightforward, even experienced bakers face a few common problems.

Chunky or oily ganache

If your ganache “breaks,” meaning the fat and liquids separate, the mixture will appear chunky and oily. To remedy this situation, whisk a tablespoon of cold heavy cream at a time into the ganache until it comes back together. Depending on how much cream you add, you may need to add some more chocolate once it comes back together.

Ganache sets hard

If you’re kitchen is cold and your ganache sets up before you’re done working with it, re-warm the ganache in the microwave at 20-second intervals. Or, keep your ganache over a double boiler set to low heat while you work.

Ganache is too runny

If your ganache is too tin after it’s set, try re-warming it then whisking a few more pieces of chocolate into the mixture until you achieve your desired consistency.

Ganache is too thick or won’t spread

Whisk in a tablespoon of warm cream at a time until you achieve your desired consistency.

Coloring your ganache

Pink colored chocolate melted

Photo via Juniper Cakery

For most vibrant colors, start with white chocolate. But use milk or dark chocolate if you’re coloring to black.

Just like coloring fondant, it’s best to use gel or paste colors or even oil-based candy coloring. Don’t use a watery food coloring, which could seize your chocolate and you won’t get the color you’re after. Add a few drops of concentrated color after you’ve mixed your cream and chocolate together to get your desired color.

How to store ganache

Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the ganache to stop a sugar crust forming and leave at room temperature.

Ganache can be kept refrigerated for a couple of weeks and can be frozen for up to three months.

How to frost a cake with ganache

Once your ganache has cooled and set up to the thickness of peanut butter it is ready to use. If the ganache firms up past the point of being spreadable, place it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until the ganache is a spreadable consistency, just a minute or two.

What you need:

Step 1:

Thick ganache on top of cake

Frosting tutorial photos via Erin Bakes

Place a large dollop of ganache on top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the ganache over the surface of the cake.

Flat-topped ganache on top of cake

Step 2:

Adding chocolate ganache to sides of cake

Use a large icing spatula to spread ganache all around the sides of the cake.

Step 3:

Bench scraper smoothing sides of chocolate ganache cake

Then use a large icing spatula or bench scraper to smooth the sides of the cake. Dip the scraper in warm water and dry it with a paper towel every so often to clean and warm the blade. The warm blade will melt the ganache just enough to correct any imperfections.

Step 4:

Using offset spatula to smooth top of cake

Once the sides are as smooth as you’d like them to be, use an offset spatula to clean up the top edges of the cake. Hold the blade of the spatula so that it’s horizontal with the top of the cake. Use the spatula to pull the excess ganache up and away over the top of the cake.

Dip the spatula in warm water to heat the spatula as needed. Be sure to dry the blade before using it on the cake. Water can cause ganache to discolor or “bloom.”

Step 5:

Finished cake covered in ganache

Carefully slide an offset spatula under the cake board and use it to help lift the cake off the turntable and onto a cake stand or platter. Store the cake either in the fridge or at room temperature, depending on the kind of filling you used. Refrigerate your cake until it’s completely firm if you plan on adding a layer of fondant.

chocolate cake

More Chocolate, Please!

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38 Comments

Vivian Jaile

Please please create a class that will include the LUSTER PAINT EFFECT it’s so beautiful and in Australia lots of decorators are using it …. Great great example The owner of Cake Face Mim… Her work and style are impeccable….

Reply
Wendy

Great tutorial and I love the photos! I want your scale:)

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Sally Rich

Hi – thanks for this, really helpful!

The cake at the top of the tutorial is beautiful – what is the technique you used for the bottom tier, it’s so pretty!x

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Margaret Garner

Thank you for sharing your Excel tool on making Ganache what a wonderful tool. I so love Craftsy.

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Kathy

Nice tutorial – thank Lesley. Cakers in warmer climates might want to use a different ratio, especially for white chocolate which is not as stable. I live in sunny Queensland, Australia and in summer months use a or 3:1 or even 4:1 ratio of chocolate to cream. 🙂

Reply
Lesley

Thanks, Kathy! The post above does actually specify 3:1 or 3.5:1 for white chocolate. It doesn’t get as hot here as it does in Australia in the summer, but I definitely need a higher ratio for white chocolate!

Reply
Lesley

Thanks for your comment, Vivian! I wish I could, but I learned this technique during a 3-day class at Baking Arts in San Francisco, and it wouldn’t be ethical of me to re-teach it. Maybe someone else can though!

Reply
Lesley

I just wanted to remind you that the Excel spreadsheet is by I Want Sprinkles, as mentioned in the post above. I can’t take any credit for it!

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Suzy

If storing it in the fridge or freezer, how would you best recommend defrosting it or getting it back to it’s “peanut butter” consistency?

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Lesley

I would take frozen ganache out of the freezer and let if thaw in the fridge overnight. Then I would let the cold ganache come to room temperature. It should still be too thick to spread, so then I microwave in 10 second bursts, mixing vigorously each time to bring all the ganache to the same temperature and consistency. Be very careful not to overheat as the ganache can turn grainy.

Reply
cuen

Hi Lesley, thank you for your post. I have been encountering problem with the ganache firming up, something which I have never encounter before. In the past, it works easy and perfect. But now, it just refuse to firm up. I am using valrhona 70% dark chocolate, attempting ratio of up to 3:1 (choc:cream) but it still don’t firm up. It stay quite soft that it makes it very difficult to cover the cake. I follow the exact same method that as your post. Would you be able to advise what are the possible reason?

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Margaret Garner

ever heard oh couvert chocolate, where can you purchase it’s chocolate.

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deb

Thank you for.sharing. 🙂 Great tips and I will be bookmarking to come.back whenever I need it.

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Lesley

CUEN – it’s really hard to say. Unless you’ve changed your ingredients (brand of chocolate, type of cream) or changed your method of preparation, I really have no idea why anything should change. I recommend you make your ganache the day before you need it so it has a chance to properly firm up. Then microwave it to get it to spreading consistency, but only gently. You shouldn’t need 1 3:1 ratio with dark Valrhona, 2:1 should be plenty. Are you using heavy whipping cream or other cream with a fat content of at least 35%?

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Chrissy

Thank you for this! I took jessicas class on craftsy, awesome! And I love you as well! My question is my fondant tore really bad because of the beautiful sharp edges, any suggestions?

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Lesley

What brand of fondant did you use, Chrissy? Jessica’s class includes a fondant recipe that works perfectly for her and I also love Liz Marek’s LMF (you can find a recipe on another of my posts).

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Rachel

thanks for the awesome tutorial Lesley! me and ganache are really not friends 🙁 I do it exactly as you show, im in the UK and use whipping cream and chocolate with 37% cocoa soilds, but as soon as I begin to stir the chocolate and cream, it always ends up as a seperated greasy mess! Do you have any idea why this is?

Reply
Lesley

Is it possible that the cream is too hot? That’s normally why a split occurs. I let mine get just to the point where it starts to ‘grow’ in the pan. What kind of chocolate is it? Chips or bars or couverture? If it splits, it really shouldn’t matter. Just put it back in the fridge, set your oven timer for 5 minutes intervals and stir after every five minutes. I SHOULD come back to normal. Pour in a dribble of cold cream too, that helps.

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Rachel

im using couverture bars that I chop just slightly smaller than the square size, i try to catch the cream just before it boils (little bubbles on the bottom of the pan when i tilt it?) I will definitely try the fridge and cream trick though, hadn’t thought of that before! thank you so much for your help 🙂

Reply
Funke

Hi Lesley, thanks for sharing your expertise on ganache. Some of my clients want carrot or lemon flavoured cakes. I was wondering if I could use ganache for these cakes or what would you recommend.

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Lesley

I recommend using white chocolate ganache for this. You need a higher ratio of chocolate to cream – 3:1 is standard – but white chocolate seems to differ so dramatically that it’s best to experiment. With the good Belgian stuff 3:1 is fine, if I use Toll House chips, I go 4:1!

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Funke

Thank you. Will give it a try

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Michelle keel

Hi

Does anyone have a recipe for white choc ganache which sets hard and if so what white choc would you recommend in the UK? Mine always turns out like white choc fudge which is delicious but no good for crumb coating :-0

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Tess Singh

Thanks for that info – first time my ganache firmed up before I even finished the cake!! 😀 Gonna keep that ratio in the old noggin for years to come!

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hazel

for the ratios is it in weight, cups or like chocolate is grams to cream which is ml

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Tiffany Fortini

What brand of chocolate do you recommend for White chocolate ganache?

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nessa

Hi there!
Thanks for the great tip! I don’t own a microwave so I will be using the good old method of heating the heavy cream and then adding my chocolate. My question is if my ganache is too hard and I need to soften it up a bit what is the best way to do it? Is low heat on a double boiler advisable?
Thanks in advance for your help!

Reply
Lesley

Double boiler for sure, Nessa. Good luck!

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Melody Wells-Jansz

Just interested to know if there is a tutorial on the 2 tiered wedding cake with the beautiful sheen and the damask design on the bottom tier with the large white flower on top
Where can I get that Damask stencil or template
Thanks

Reply
Lesley

You can learn that cake in-person at Baking Arts near San Francisco. The damask stencil is from Designer Stencils.com.

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Virginia

I have never made ginache before I have milk chocolate, chocolate chip and heavy whipping cream, can I make ginache with these chips please help. Thank you, Virginia.

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Lesley

Yes, you can make ganache with milk chocolate, but you will need a higher ratio that with dark chocolate. You will probably need three times as much chocolate as heavy whipping cream. Make sure to weigh the chocolate – that’s very important!

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Meiiii

Thank for the blog! So useful! Jus wondering if i use coconut cream instead of normal cream. Can i still leave it outside? And how long i can leave it outside?

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mamawa

If I refrigerate the ganache, should I let it come to room temp prior to using?

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Lesley Wright

Yes, you will have to. It will go rock hard in the fridge. In fact, even if you leave it at room temperature it will set completely and you will need to microwave before you can spread it on the cake. It should be peanut butter consistency when you use it, but completely set at room temp.

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gali

PLEASE CAN YOU give me a recipe amounts for each flavor chocolate . for an 8 inch x6 inch cake >please

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Isabelle Payne

This is a very useful blog post, I always direct my students to it! Thank you.

Reply

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