4 ingredients and 15 minutes is all you need to whip up a glossy batch of this luxuriously silky and thick frosting.
The heightened chocolate flavor of this ganache will perfectly complement your baked goods without being cloyingly sweet or heavy. This frosting is perfect for using on cakes or brownies and sets up with a wonderfully soft and fudgy bite.
So what is a ganache?
Though it sounds like something complex and fancy that only a 5-star rated French pâtissier would be able to churn out, a ganache is simply a glossy emulsion of chocolate and warmed heavy cream mixed together.
The ratio of liquid to chocolate tends to determine the final consistency and use of your ganache. A thin ganache with more cream than chocolate (1:2 ratio) can be whipped into a heavenly mousse. Alter the ratio to being equal parts chocolate and cream (1:1) and you have a medium set ganache that is perfect for using as a glaze or as a filling for pastries. Now, if you have a ganache that is more chocolate than cream (2:1) then you have a firm set ganache that will thicken enough to be used as fudgy truffle filling.
For today’s recipe we’ll be making a ganache frosting that is going to fall just between a medium and firm and will be just perfect to use as a frosting. More to that we’re going to tweak the recipe a bit and use milk and butter instead of heavy cream. More on that in minute…
Here’s what you’ll need for this ganache frosting:
- Dark chocolate: I recommend using dark chocolate that is 60% and up for the best results. For a nice balance of chocolate flavors you can use a combination of 60% and 80%. You can use chips, discs or block chocolate you’ve cut into small pieces. I recommend against using milk chocolate for this recipe as the higher sugar content, lower cocoa content and added milk solids may cause your ganache to not set up right.
- Whole Milk: We’re using whole milk in place of the usual heavy cream. The main reason for this is that I almost always have milk on hand, whereas I tend to avoid buying and using heavy cream since most brands tend to be full of artificial preservatives and stabilizers. But trust me that you’re going to love this lighter version!
- Butter: In place of the heavy cream’s fat content we’ll use some butter to help add back some fat and richness to the ganache, this butter also helps our ganache set up soft and fudgy!
- Espresso Powder: Optional, but a touch of it really amplifies the depth of the chocolate flavor.
Making this ganache is as easy as…
We’ll start off by adding the milk and butter to a saucepan and bringing it to an almost simmer on med-low heat. You’ll want the milk to be steaming and the butter melted. Don’t let your milk boil over or froth up.
Add your chocolate chips, chunks or splinters to a heat-proof bowl and then slowly stream your warm, steamy milk and melted butter over the chocolate and, without disturbing, touching, or mixing it, let your bowl sit for 5 minutes so that the heat from the milk and butter can soften the chocolate.
Once your 5 minutes are up you can sprinkle in your espresso powder if you’re using it and begin to mix your ganache together. At first it’s going to look like something’s wrong and it’s not going to come together, it will be watery and you’ll think you messed up, but don’t worry, keep stirring. Honestly a simple hand whisk is the best tool to use for your ganache but you can use a spatula if you like.
Then magic happens! Your mixture is going to start incorporating and will slowly start to thicken and take on a glossy sheen. The more you mix the thicker it will slowly become.
This happens because we’re taking advantage of two processes.
- The first one is that liquid in chocolate tends to encourage it to seize which makes it thicken. Usually when this happens the chocolate becomes grainy however with the addition of the fatty butter, our chocolate ends up being smooth and glossy.
- The second thing here is temperature, as we mix our chocolate, it’s going to start to cool down and solidify. But our added liquid and butter will keep it at a certain texture.
What do I do if my ganache broke?!
In the event that your ganache looks grainy and gritty that means that it has broken. Don’t worry it can be saved! What’s happening is that the fat is separating from the liquids and the chocolate solids are being suspended and giving a grainy appearance.
To fix it you can whisk in a bit more milk, start with 1-2 tsp and see if that brings it back together. If it doesn’t then you can place your bowl into a hot water bath (ensure none of the hot water gets into the ganache!) to help liquify the fats and cocoa solids which should allow you to mix your ganache back into a smooth and silky texture.
Once it has thickened up sufficiently, pop the bowl into the fridge for 5-15 minutes. You can take it out and stir it every 5 minutes until it has a heavenly thick and spreadable frosting texture. And that’s it! We’ve done it and whipped up a batch of heavenly silky chocolate ganache! Totally take a moment to marvel at your fancy self 😊
As for how you use it…
Honestly you can use it however you like! I personally love swirling and spreading it over a pan of freshly baked and cooled chewy brownies or as a quick and easy frosting for cakes. Or you can keep it on hand in an airtight container with some plastic wrap pressed over the surface for up to 2 weeks or freeze it for a month. If you freeze it, let it thaw to room temp and give it a quick whisk to bring it back to life.
Note: If there are some air bubbles in your ganache that can sometimes happen but it doesn’t affect the texture of the frosting at all. If it bothers you from an aesthetic point of view, you can try gently tapping your ganache to encourage the bubbles to come to the surface and use a toothpick to pop the bubbles or even a spreader to smooth your ganache out.
In terms of how to prevent the bubbles, I have noticed that using a metal hand whisk to mix the ganache together does seem to prevent the bubbles from forming.
Seriously guys, look at how thick and luxurious that looks! Alright, that’s it, I’m off to go sequester a piece of chocolaty indulgence. My final word on this recipe: if you love chocolate, try this ganache frosting out, you won’t be sorry!
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
- Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted and the milk is starting to steam. (Do not let it boil or froth up)
- Place your chocolate pieces into a heat-proof bowl and slowly pour the milk and melted butter over it. Let it rest for 5 minutes without disturbing it.
- Once 5 minutes have passed, use a whisk or spatula to gradually mix and combine the ganache until it is smooth and glossy. If you've mixed and it is still thin, you can place it into the fridge for 5-15 minutes until it has set to the thickness of frosting, checking and mixing it every 5 minutes until it is as thickened as you'd like your frosting to be.
- Store your ganache (or ganache frosted treats) in the fridge until ready to eat and enjoy. The ganache by itself will keep in an airtight container or in a sealed plastic food-grade bag for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to a month.
- I highly recommend using a dark chocolate that is at least 53% and up. I personally enjoy using a combination of 60% and 80%. For the best results use block chocolate/ pure chocolate bars that you finely chop.
- Note that if you use milk chocolate the recipe may not set up right.
- The use of espresso powder is optional but really amplifies the chocolate flavor. Ensure you're using a dissolvable espresso powder for baking.
- This recipe makes enough to frost one layer of 9" round cake or one 8x8 pan of brownies.
- If using for cakes or brownies ensure that they are fully cooled before frosting. Note that your ganache will thicken and set as it cools but will remain soft and fudgy once set.