by Sharon Wee

Over the years I’ve had lots and lots of emails, phone calls and questions regarding ganache. It’s my filling of choice and I use it under 99% of all my cakes because of it’s firm and durable nature. As luck (if you can call it that) would have it, the first time I used ganache on a cake many years ago, I almost missed a turn into a small lane for my delivery. Without thinking I swerved the car into the lane and my cake slid off the board and into the side door of my car. I freaked out and quickly parked the car and would you believe it when I tell you that NOTHING happened to the cake? The cake was fine and had no dents because the ganache was firm underneath! I slid it back onto the middle of the board and from then on I’d vow never to use anything but ganache under all my cakes.

I’ve learned some lessons with the making and using of the ganache and so has Nick. Most of the time, he is now the one who makes all my ganaches for me and some weeks we’d make over 20kgs of white, dark and milk chocolate ganache. So I thought it would be fun for him to be a guest poster 🙂  So this is Nick’s first blog post for you guys detailing everything you basically need to know about ganache for cakes.

Hi everyone,

Sharon thought it would be fun if I wrote some details about my experiences when dealing with ganache.

I have spent many late nights making ganache so I know more than I really should about all this. So let’s start with the very basic…

What is Ganache?

It’s basically just cream and chocolate, and we use it to cover cakes. You can think of it as a replacement for other options like whipped cream, buttercream, icing, etc. The reason Sharon uses it is that it tastes nicer (it is mostly chocolate after all), and it sets hard which helps you get sharp edges on your cakes. Also, it’s a good ‘glue’ to stick together the various offcuts when building 3D cake shapes.

Ingredients

There’s not much to it – just chocolate and cream. The only thing to keep in mind is the ratio, some guidelines are below but you may need to adjust this based on your local environment (temperature, humidity, altitude etc).

Make sure you use good quality chocolate – no terrible cooking chocolate! It’s a big part of the final flavour. It’s best to aim for simple ingredients, so try to get couverture chocolate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couverture_chocolate) instead of compound chocolate which can have all kinds of oils and other random things in it.

UPDATE: It is also possible to use compound chocolate. Generally with compound you will need a higher ratio of chocolate to cream. But because it varies across brands and may have different additives in it’s hard to promise you an exact ratio. For dark compound chocolate try a 3:1 ratio of chocolate to cream. You might have to play around with the ratios and adjust as needed. So test with a small batch first.

For the cream, just make sure it’s not low fat. Something labelled as pouring/whipping/thickened cream should be fine. Usually less additives is better but thickened cream (available in Australia) has some vegetable gum which helps it set better in some cases.

Recipe

The values below are metric, you can google for ‘metric conversion’ and it’ll bring up a small tool you can use to convert the values if you need.

It’s best to use a digital scale, they are cheap and well worth it. Most support both metric and imperial too. You can’t reliably measure chocolate in ‘cups’ or other volume based amounts since it depends on how fine you chop it, everyone is different.

Milk chocolate earl grey tea infused ganache with chocolate cookies

Ratios to use are below:

  • When using dark chocolate, go for a 2:1 ratio e.g. 1200g of chocolate to 600ml of cream.
  • For white chocolate, go for 3:1 e.g. 1200g chocolate to 400ml cream. This is because white chocolate has more oils in it.
  • For milk chocolate, it’s in between but varies depending on the brand and oil content, you’ll need to try it out with small batches until you’re happy with the result.

UPDATE: If you want an exact ratio amount for your project, you can use our recipe calculator to help you work it out.

These numbers aren’t precise and if you have a digital scale and are lazy you can just weigh the cream. It’s a bit lighter than water but close enough, so if we’re in a hurry we often just weigh out 400g of cream instead of measuring 400ml.

Preparation

First – ensure your chocolate is chopped finely (or already provided in square pieces or buttons) or it might not melt easily!

There are two ways to prepare ganache.

Microwave Method:
The easiest way is to just put everything in a container and microwave it until it melts. It’s best to stop and mix occasionally so it heats evenly, in our case we heat for 2.5 minutes, stir, 1.5 minutes, stir, 1 minute, stir, then 30 seconds and stir until combined. Using the microwave is easier but you’ll need to find a timing system that suits your machine.

Stove Method:
The other more traditional option is to boil your cream on the stove, then pour it over the chocolate. Give it a small shake so it’s all covered and let it sit for a short time to melt. If you stir too early you’ll just cool it down. After a couple of minutes just mix it to combine. If you have any lumps you might need to finish it off in the microwave like above, but for less time.

When you start to stir, it might be mostly unmelted so you it’s easier to use a spatula or spoon. As it melts you should use a whisk or it’ll take forever. Finish with a hand mixer or stick blender if you want to make your life easier.

Adding Flavour

Milk chocolate earl grey tea infused ganache with chocolate cookies 🙂

It already tastes good but you can add more flavour, like white chocolate and lime or milk chocolate and tea. If you’re just using essence you can stir it in at the end, but for tea or spice you should instead use the cream boil method, and after it boils, let the spice/tea sit in it with the lid on for 10-15 minutes. Then pour the cream over the chocolate as before but use a strainer to remove the chunks. Since it’s cooler you’ll probably need to finish it off in the microwave.

To really infuse the cream you can let it sit in the fridge overnight before boiling, maybe you will be able to save money and use less ingredients but we’ve never bothered with it.

White chocolate vanilla bean ganache with pistachios, honey and rose water.

*Sharon’s note: People have asked what flavouring I use for my ganaches. I use a mixture of teas, jams, wholesale gel flavourings and general flavouring (from Roberts Confectionary). I don’t use fresh fruit puree or juices as they reduce the shelf life of the ganache.

Using It

I’m no expert but basically you just need to heat it a little and stir it so it’s a paste like a peanut butter. You don’t want it so stiff it breaks the cake, and you don’t want it so melted that it runs down the side.

If it’s too stiff you can microwave it in 30s increments and if it’s too runny, pop it in the fridge for a little bit.

Storing

Keep it in an airtight container and it’s safe to leave at room temperature for some time, even a few days if your house is cool enough. For longer term storage you can put it in the fridge, or even freeze it and reheat it weeks later. Also, keep it away from dogs and children 🙂

Just ensure you check on it occasionally and don’t forget when you made batches – it does eventually go mouldy, and if you wait too long you might get a bad surprise when you cut the cake!

Common Problems

It splits – this is when the fat separates out from the mixture and it looks very oily. It can happen easily with white chocolate when you overheat it. Just keep mixing it and let it cool down and it will combine again eventually.

Doesn’t set (stays soft on the cake) – you might be in a hotter area, try reducing the amount of cream a little to reduce the liquid in the mixture.

It’s lumpy/ has tiny little dots (see picture above) – It might be that you didn’t heat it up enough, so you might need to cook it a bit longer.

In some cases it may mean you overheated part of the chocolate or it cooled quickly causing it to seize, you can fix this by melting down the chocolate until it is soft (not runny) and then use a hand mixer to go through it to combine the lumps.

UPDATE: Additional Tips

– If you live in a hot country and chocolate melts or goes soft when it is outside at room tempreture, than your ganache will too. Simple as that. It is not possible to have ganache sitting out in a hot room or outside without it melting or going soft.

– Sharon works in an air conditioned room and her cakes stay in an air conditioned room until it is delivered. If you don’t have air con, you can refigerate the ganached cakes even if there is fondant on it. Simply wrap the fondant cake in a large plastic bag and place it in the fridge. Then when you take it out, don’t unwrap the cake until it comes to room tempreture.

– Make the ganache a day before you need it. It needs time to set. The same rule applies for the cake. It is easier to deal with a cake that is not freshly baked and is cold (from the fridge).

And that’s about it! Hope it has helped in some way.

Nick

If you would like to learn more about the basics behind setting up, ganaching and covering a round and square cake (plus recipes!), check out my books or my online tutorial The Basics Bible. If you purchase the book, you won’t need the online tutorial as it covers the same content.

Some of Sharon's favourite tools

48 Comments on The Low Down on Ganache – A Guest Post

  1. Anonymous
    April 15, 2013 at 9:24 am (4 years ago)

    Thanks for that it is very helpful.

    Reply
  2. Flor
    April 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm (4 years ago)

    Sharon and Nick, thank you very much for this post! It’s really clear and complete! I usually use Buttercream, and when I decided to try Ganache I had a problem I can’t solve: When I apply ganache to the cake, it hardness almost immediately and I can’t work on the cake to obtain a smooth finish because the chocolate is as hard as a rock. I use coverture chocolate, regular cream (not low fat) and I used the ratio mentioned on your blog. Any idea of what I’m doing wrong?
    Thank You very much!

    Reply
  3. Sharon
    April 15, 2013 at 10:25 pm (4 years ago)

    Hey Flor,
    If your chocolate has got a higher cocoa content this may be why it sets really hard really fast. Try adjusting your cream ratio (add more cream when you make it) until you get a consistency you like. As a guide my dark chocolate is 46% cocoa.

    HTH!

    Reply
  4. Lora
    April 15, 2013 at 11:30 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you very much!! This is super helpful. I am excited to try this – our house doesn’t have AC and it can get fairly warm in the summers where we live, so I hope this will hold up better under fondant than my buttercream does. And who doesn’t want more chocolate?!

    Reply
  5. ibeeflower
    April 16, 2013 at 12:20 am (4 years ago)

    Thanks Nick and Sharon! Ive made ganache for my cakes but I’ve never infused other flavors into it. For the cookies and tea you described above can you do it without tea?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  6. saved.by.grace
    April 16, 2013 at 3:49 am (4 years ago)

    I live in a very hot and humid country. My problem is, my ganache looks perfect on the cake but stays soft and oozes out at the bottom after applying fondant. It’s so hard to achieve sharp edges. I’m using callebaut chocolate compound. Should i adjust the cream to chocolate ratio?

    Thank you so much in advance!

    Reply
  7. Name
    June 22, 2013 at 8:43 am (4 years ago)

    I live in Malaysia. Very hot and high humidity. Ganache works fine in aircondition room. But when it’s out, it slops! So are we not able to use ganache under fondant at all due to our weather or am I missing something? I use high quality coverture and 38% fat double cream.

    Reply
  8. Name
    June 22, 2013 at 8:44 am (4 years ago)

    I live in Malaysia. Very hot and high humidity. Ganache works fine in aircondition room. But when it’s out, it slops! So are we not able to use ganache under fondant at all due to our weather or am I missing something? I use high quality coverture and 38% fat double cream.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous
    August 15, 2013 at 12:09 am (4 years ago)

    Hi I’m Sue. I have the same problem as grace and name as i stay in singapore. Ganache doesn’t harden and even melted after a night! I’m using valrhona 70%. Is there any solution to this other than keeping it in fridge (not possible after fondant) or aircon?

    Reply
  10. Sharon
    December 24, 2013 at 4:31 am (4 years ago)

    If you live in a hot and humid country, the ganached cake MUST stay in an aircon room or else it will melt. You can adjust the ratio so that it can withstand a slightly hotter temperature, but at the end of the day it needs to be in a cool room or it will not work.

    Reply
  11. Cherrykidz
    January 16, 2014 at 8:24 am (4 years ago)

    Hi Sharon,
    is this the same ratio both for the sandwich/filling as well as the covering? i thought the covering should go hard whilst the sandwich usually pretty creamy?

    thanks

    Reply
  12. Sharon
    January 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm (4 years ago)

    cherrykidz – Yes I use the same, but you can use a softer filling if you like. I don’t do this because it creates extra production work and the ganache is still soft enough. Hope that helps.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous
    January 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm (4 years ago)

    The FSA insist ganached cakes should be refrigerated which is difficult once covered with sugarpaste. Do you have any advice how to tackle this problem please? I have been using ganache for years, do I need to re think this?

    Reply
  14. Sharon
    February 1, 2014 at 11:18 pm (4 years ago)

    Some of the much larger decorators have fridges that are calibrated with some sort of dehumidifier in it to prevent the sugarpaste from sweating once in the fridge, If you can’t get access to that, you can wrap the whole cake in a large plastic bag when you refrigerate, and that might help slightly. HTH since I don’t put my fondant cakes in the fridge over here.

    Reply
  15. PC
    September 17, 2014 at 1:32 am (3 years ago)

    Would a ganache frosted cake ( no fondant over it), be ok outside under shade of a Pavillion, Temp-84 degrees and humid? Will it melt or spoil? Would any fondant decorations fall off?
    If so , would Another option work? Covering the ganache with a layer of buttercream? Would the buttercream slide off too?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      September 18, 2014 at 9:21 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi PC, at that temperature and humidity I don’t think the cake would last very long! It’s just too hot and humid I think, it sounds similar to Singapore and I always keep cakes indoors there. Buttercream with a lot of butter will probably melt too. It won’t be as nice but using more shortening may help to keep it stable but you’d have to test to be sure.

      Reply
  16. Priti Bhatia
    January 9, 2015 at 5:55 am (3 years ago)

    Hi Sharon
    I live in australia too. I have made ganache with thickened cream and with pure cream . I noticed that when I made a big batch, refrigerated it and tried to reuse it amother time, the batcj made with pure cream was fine but the ine with thickened cream tends to have some granules in it and looks a little coarse. Do you know if that us because if the gelatine in the thickened cream ?

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      January 10, 2015 at 9:04 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Priti,

      I usually use thickened cream and don’t have trouble, however something similar has happened when I over-boiled the cream. Perhaps your technique varied slightly between batches?

      Reply
  17. sandi
    March 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm (2 years ago)

    I live in Darwin which has the same climate as Malaysia and Singapore etc. I find the only thing I can use under fondant is a buttercream that incorporates shortening or else it all just melts.

    Reply
  18. Ruth
    March 7, 2015 at 10:00 am (2 years ago)

    Good to hear from you Nick! Found it helpful to know you guys use couverture for your ganache and that compound comes with additive oils. Will take some tips away from this so thanks!

    Reply
  19. Lucy
    March 8, 2015 at 2:16 am (2 years ago)

    Hi there. Thank you so much for this blog. It’s really useful. I normally use buttercream on my cakes but am keen to try ganache. The main reason I haven’t used ganache so far, is because of the shelf life. I just assumed that something containing lots of cream should be kept refrigerated – even after its been put on the cake. Like some of the others that have posted here, I cover my cakes in fondant – so can’t keep finished cakes in the fridge. How do you overcome this? Surely because of the cream content, the ganache will go off very quickly if left out? Thanks

    Reply
  20. yeni
    March 30, 2015 at 7:41 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi…
    I made the chocolate ganache using heavy whip cream and cooking chocolate (which I check at the back is coverture chocolate), but then when I applied onto the cake that already been covered by swiss meringue in thin layer, it didn’t get harden.
    When I touched it, it still stick onto my finger a little bit.
    I put in the air-con room but when I took it out at room temperature so I can cover it by fondant, but then all collapse, my fondant torn.
    So I ended up scoop put all the ganache and cover it by fondant.

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      March 30, 2015 at 8:30 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Yeni, I’m not sure I fully understand. Did the cake have both swiss meringue buttercream on the outside and ganache on top of it? I have never done that but I don’t think it would be good as the buttercream may not work well with ganache. And if you are working in an air conditioned room, you should leave the cake there until it is finished. You shouldn’t let it get too warm, in a warmer climate it will melt very fast. If chocolate would melt in the room, ganache definitely will because it has cream mixed in. If you still have trouble then you can try to adjust the ratio, less cream and more chocolate, until you find a mixture that works.

      Reply
  21. elaine
    April 21, 2015 at 1:06 am (2 years ago)

    How long can ganache be refrigerated for??

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      April 21, 2015 at 11:23 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Elaine,

      Usually I try to make it and use it within a few days so I’m not too sure about the regular fridge. However I have heard that you can freeze it and keep it for quite some time if you have extra left (or want to make a bigger batch at once!).

      Reply
  22. Rachel
    April 25, 2015 at 12:15 am (2 years ago)

    Yum, thanks for the tutorial! I’d never thought about using ganache before!

    Reply
  23. catherine
    May 31, 2015 at 12:29 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for the tutorial! I”m most curious of the white chocolate and lime ganache flavor. That sounds wonderful 🙂 How is it prepare? Do you add lime juice after mixing the heavy cream and chocolate together? Do you use the zest? Thank you!! 🙂

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      May 31, 2015 at 11:16 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Catherine, I don’t use the juice because it might curdle the cream, but you can use the zest. It’s easiest to just buy lime flavouring, you can find some nice ones and you don’t need to add much.

      Reply
      • Catherine
        June 1, 2015 at 11:09 am (2 years ago)

        Thank you so much, Sharon! Didn’t think of that 🙂 Appreciate your help 🙂

        Reply
  24. Brooke
    June 22, 2015 at 8:15 am (2 years ago)

    Thanks so much Nick & Sharon! Just wondering what brand chocolate you use? I’m from Australia too so would love the tip 🙂

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      June 22, 2015 at 6:37 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Brooke, we use Nestle Royal and Arctic but they can only be found wholesale. In a pinch we have used Plaistowe when the other chocolate runs out.

      Reply
  25. suzanne
    August 25, 2015 at 7:29 am (2 years ago)

    Hi! I made white chocolate ganache using premium baking chips mixed w/Guittard chocolate in a 3:1 ratio. After setting overnight, ganache pooled under the weight of the fondant 5 minutes after it was applied. Had to throw away fondant & scrape ganache off & recovere w/buttercream & fondant. Was it because of the type of chocolate I used? Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!!

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      August 26, 2015 at 10:12 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Suzanne, I don’t have experience with that chocolate or what ingredients are in it so I’m not sure. It could be the type of chocolate if it has less cocoa and more additives. There are a lot of factors to consider, such as the fat percentage in the cream, and was it set firm to touch before applying the fondant? Was it perhaps set in the fridge and then taken out, so it started to melt? White chocolate is often a hassle though because it does have more trouble setting. In a warmer climate or season I use less cream for this reason.

      Reply
    • Sher
      April 22, 2017 at 3:39 pm (4 months ago)

      Did the fondant set firm after re- covering with buttercream ? And also did the bew buttercram stick onto the almost scrapped of white choc ganache?

      Reply
  26. susan moser
    January 31, 2016 at 11:33 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you so very much! Very helpful!

    Reply
  27. Rebecca Rose
    June 7, 2016 at 11:27 pm (1 year ago)

    what would you use to make a dairy free ganache?

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      June 11, 2016 at 6:51 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Rebecca, I haven’t tried but have heard you can use coconut cream. So I don’t know the ratios but maybe you can try playing around with it or research online. Let us know if it works for you!

      Reply
  28. Anne
    June 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm (1 year ago)

    Thanks so much Nick & Sharon! Just wondering with these amounts of cream and chocolate how much ganache it makes…

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      June 11, 2016 at 6:50 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Anne, for the amounts mentioned above (e.g. 1.2kg chocolate and 800ml cream) that will add up to give around 1.8kg of ganache. That would be enough to cover an 8 or 9 inch round cake with a little spare. Our cake recipe calculator at http://www.sharonwee.com.au/cake-calculator offers some advice for how much to make 🙂

      Reply
  29. Jasmyn
    July 13, 2016 at 2:08 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Sharon. Thank you for the tip. I’m just wondering if I can still use milk chocolate compound as ganache? I have read an article that the chocolate compound ganache will not harden? I want to use the tulip brand because of the taste.

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      July 16, 2016 at 10:05 am (1 year ago)

      Hi Jasmyn, compound chocolate can work but since the ingredients are less reliable you may need to experiment to find the right mix. Once you do it should be possible to find one that hardens as you want but sometimes when working with it half-melted it’s difficult to get the correct smooth peanut-butter consistency needed. It would be best to make some smaller batches to test first.

      Reply
  30. Yanti
    September 25, 2016 at 3:07 am (11 months ago)

    Hi Sharon, thanks for sharing useful information about ganache, I m just wondering, can we mix couveture and compound chocolate for making ganache, thanks

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      September 25, 2016 at 9:59 am (11 months ago)

      Hi Yanti, it might work but since they have different properties it may be difficult to get them to mix smoothly and work out the correct cream ratio. I would recommend just using one type at a time.

      Reply
  31. megan
    October 30, 2016 at 9:10 am (10 months ago)

    Hi,

    Thank you for this it is very informative. I have a few very simple questions. 1) should the cake be cool before applying the ganache? 2) should the ganache be made in advance and cooled?

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      November 3, 2016 at 12:41 pm (10 months ago)

      Hi Megan! 1) Yes the cake should be cool, room temperature is OK but cold is even better. It makes it firmer and less likely to crumble. 2) You want to aim for a consistency like peanut butter and the easiest way is to make the ganache a day earlier, let it set, then reheat just enough until it’s ready.

      Reply
  32. Sarah
    November 8, 2016 at 2:28 pm (10 months ago)

    Hi. I am also in Australia and wondered if you know somewhere (perhaps online) to buy bulk nice chocolate? I’m asking since you make masses (!!) So I’m guessing maybe not block by block at the supermarket… Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      November 11, 2016 at 10:42 pm (9 months ago)

      I buy my chocolate from Southern Cross Supplies. I think you can order online but I am not sure how far they deliver. If they don’t deliver to your area, they might be able to recommend another wholesaler who does. 🙂

      Reply

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