You see the word everywhere on your dessert menu, in Godiva treats, and even in cookbooks. But what is ganache, exactly? I've been asking myself this question ever since I first sat Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a kid. After years of binge watching The Food Network, I found out what exactly this sweet chocolate heaven is. Ganache is a glaze, icing, sauce, or filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream. Ganache is normally made by heating cream, then pouring it over chopped chocolate of any kind.

Origins of Ganache

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Izzi Clark

Supposedly, ganache was created when a French pastry master in Paris asked his assistant to melt chocolate and heat cream. The assistant combined the two ingredients instead of preparing them separately as the pastry master intended. When the master saw what had happened, he was infuriated and said that the mixture was a total “ganache, which means to slog, as if walking through mud or a mess. The pastry master decided to use the ganache as filling for chocolate cakes, and they all sold out.

It should be noted that both France and Switzerland claim to have invented this sweet creation, but its true origins are still unknown.

How Ganache Is Made

sweet, chocolate, coffee, candy, cream
Christin Urso

Chop. Pour. Stir. Those three basic steps are all there is to making an irresistible batch of ganache. Despite its French name, ganache is nothing elaborate. It's simply chopped chocolate melted in heated heavy cream, with just a bit of salt to bring out the flavor. If you'd like to make your own ganache, check out this easy ganache recipe.  

Ganache Recipes

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Danielle Chen

How you use ganache depends on the temperature—and therefore the consistency—of the ganache, but the ingredients stay the same. While it's still warm, ganache can be poured directly from the bowl over a cake for a can't-fail glaze, or it can be cooled to room temperature and whipped into a fluffy frosting or whoopie pie filling. Mixed with some peanut butter, chilled, and rolled, it turns into truffles.

If you've never made ganache before, this easy chocolate sponge cake is a good recipe to start with. You'd be surprised how many cakes have ganache in them. When warm, ganache flows like cream and can be poured over a cake as a glaze; when it sets, it'll be dark in color and super glossy. 

If you're looking for more of a challenge, try these chocolate macarons. The ganache in macarons is a little different, but it turns out that this addition really does make any sweet treat even better. 

The easiest treats to make with ganache are truffles. These chocolate truffles are the most basic truffles you can make. For a pretty presentation, look for miniature foil or paper candy cups in your supermarket’s baking aisle. For the truffle coatings, think about coconut shreds (toasted and cooled), finely chopped nuts (toasted and cooled), unsweetened cocoa powder, or even chocolate sprinkles. 

Overall, ganache is chocolate heaven for those who want to give it a try. Now you won't find yourself asking "what is ganache?" ever again.