One question I am frequently asked: what is ganache? This topic may come up with great regularity because I obsessively talk about the decadently-rich chocolate confection. But, regardless of the source of the prompt, I am happy to elaborate on one of nature’s more perfect luxuries. Ganache is a combination of semi-sweet or dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) and cream, melted together in varying proportions. Equal parts chocolate-to-cream results in a mixture that, when cooled, thickens to a firm fudgy consistency. Use more cream, and it sets up softer, almost a sauce. Ganache is the stuff frequently found in the middle of a chocolate truffle. Or, as I like to call it: breakfast.
Ganache is used in more than just candy centers. When warm and liquid it can be poured over baked goods and then sets up to create a chocolate glaze. It can be allowed to stiffen and then formed into shapes as a decorative accent. Another innovation is to allow ganache to set up in the refrigerator until firm but pliable, and then whip it in a standing mixture until light and fluffy—to spread like frosting on cake and cupcakes. Add a spoonful of light corn syrup to melted ganache and it will stay soft and pliable, rather than setting up firm like chocolate bark.
However, my favorite use for ganache is to drizzle warm mixtures over vanilla bean ice cream. It hardens against the frozen cream and the texture explosion in my mouth is fantastic. Cold ice cream melts on my tongue in tandem with the buttery-tasting chocolate ganache. First, vanilla cream, then chocolate cream. Oi Veh! I need oxygen.
Use only good quality chocolate and cream because you will taste them both, unadorned, in ganache. I like any good bar chocolate: Amano, Lindt, Trader Joes, Guittard, Cadbury, Ghiradelli, Cote d’Or, etc. Use chocolate chips when in a pinch, but try to keep a great bar of chocolate on hand for a ganache emergency. Whether you actually use it for ganache or not, you will be prepared for the end of the world, because we all know chocolate will become the new currency.
The following recipe features a chocolate ganache glaze over zucchini brownies.
With Ganache Glaze
Makes one 9 x 13 pan
(From Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy, by Tres Prier Hatch)
No one in my family suspects zucchini is hidden inside these moist brownies. They are nice and chocolaty, but not overwhelmingly rich. Try using light olive oil instead of canola or cooking oil. By my estimation, with zucchini, nuts, dark chocolate and olive oil they are practically health food.
2 cups zucchini, finely grated
½ cup oil
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
¼ cup cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
6-ounces good quality dark chocolate
½ cup cream
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a large bowl mix zucchini, oil, sugar and vanilla. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Gently stir in nuts. Mix until just combined. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray. Spread batter into pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Cool.
In a small bowl set over (not in) simmering water, melt chocolate and cream together, stirring frequently. Add more cream if mixture is quite thick. Pour melted ganache over brownies and use an offset spatula to spread to edges of pan. Refrigerate to set icing. Cut into squares and serve. For perfect slices, dip knife in hot water and wipe dry before cutting each slice.
Tres Hatch is the author of: Miracle Pill 10 Truths to Healthy, Thin, & Sexy. She eats chocolate every day.