In her biweekly column, Kitchen Basics, Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen demystifies essential cooking skills with step-by-step instructions and her own handsome photos. Whether she's showing us how much brown sugar we're meant to "pack"(or is it cram?) into measuring cups or how to detect when our onions are properly caramelized, Susan is the nonna we never had -- until now. Now, go on and get cozy under her wing.
This week, Susan demonstrates how to make ganache.
My dad and I love to peruse grocery stores, and when I’m home for the holidays we volunteer to do all the shopping. It’s a relief for my mom who strives to avoid anything kitchen related, but also poses a problem. Bewitched by a deep love of food, we function as if time were somehow suspended. My dad starts in the cheese aisle and reverently moves on to nuts and wine. I head to my culinary sanctuary, baking supplies, ogle at the local honey and sparkly sprinkles, and then meditate on all the things I can create with chocolate: airy mousse, toothsome brownies, lush ganache...
Used to sculpt truffles, fill cakes, and blanket tarts, ganache is the home cook’s oh-so-easy-to-make secret weapon. It requires two ingredients: heavy cream and chocolate. Since the chocolate goes unmasked, be sure to buy the finest quality you can afford.
How to Make Ganache
Note: To make ganache that’s on the thinner side (and perfect to pour over tortes or spread over cakes in lieu of icing) start with an equal ratio of chocolate to heavy cream. To make ganache with a fudge-like consistency, use twice as much chocolate as heavy cream.
Finely chop the chocolate with a chef’s knife.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
Pour the cream into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, and then quickly remove it from the heat to help stop the water in the cream from evaporating.
Carefully pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for a minute. The chocolate will start to melt.
Stir the chocolate and cream, beginning in the middle of the bowl. After several minutes, it will start to emulsify and silky, smooth ganache will appear in the middle of the bowl.
Stir in wider circles to emulsify the rest of the chocolate and the cream.
Continue stirring until you end up with a bowlful of lush ganache.
Note: If there are small chunks of chocolate in the ganache, place the bowl over a very gently simmering pot of water and stir the ganache until the chunks melt away. Do not allow the water to boil hard as it may cause the ganache to separate.
A ganache-topped white chocolate coconut tart
I’d love to see your tips for making ganache! Share them with your fellow cooks in the comments section below.
Are you new to cooking? Tell me what skills you'd like to learn and your idea could be featured in an upcoming post!
Photos by Susan Pachikara
Want more basic tips from Susan? Check out her previous post: Kitchen Basics: Tying a Roast.
Susan writes the blog Cardamom Kitchen to share her culinary experiences as an Indian-American rooted in the Midwest.