If you don’t already have an easy, go-to dessert in your back pocket, say hello to chocolate ganache. Ganache is essentially equal parts chocolate and cream mixed together to make a dreamy, luscious filling. It’s simple, elegant, and sure to please even the most discerning sweet tooth. Plus, it’s so versatile that you can use it for everything, from dinner parties to kids’ birthdays, or even as an edible hostess gift. Make sure you use the best quality chocolate that you can get your hands on and avoid bags of chocolate chips, which are actually designed to hold their shape in the oven and don’t melt very well. Perhaps this calls for a chocolate taste test?! Read through for our easy-peasy recipe and our favorite ways to use it.

Chocolate Ganache

(Makes ~3 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 10-14 ounces bittersweet chocolate (use less if you want to use the ganache as a sauce, and more if you’ll be using it for truffles or a tart), chopped into small pieces
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or other flavoring (optional)

Instructions:

1. Place chocolate into a wide, heat-proof bowl.

2. Pour heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently. Remove from heat when you start to see small bubbles forming in the cream around the edge of the pan.

3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for five minutes. Use a whisk and, starting in the middle and slowly working your way out, begin to gently stir chocolate and cream together in a clockwise motion. You can pick up a little bit of speed as more and more of the chocolate gets incorporated. Continue whisking until ganache is glossy and smooth. Stir in vanilla, if using.

4. You can use ganache immediately, or store in a glass jar or other airtight container for up to two weeks. Ganache can be gently reheated in the microwave — stop to stir every 15 seconds.

Now, let’s use it!

Ice Cream Sundae: Simply pour warmed ganache over the ice cream of your choice.

Chocolate Truffles: Chill ganache in refrigerator until firm. Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop into balls and roll in cocoa powder, shredded coconut, or crushed nuts.

Rich Hot Cocoa: Put a couple tablespoons of ganache in the bottom of a mug. Top with warm milk and stir.

Decadent Chocolate Tart: Pour warm ganache into a pre-baked tart shell. Chill until firm and top with whipped cream, cocoa nibs, flakey sea salt, crushed toffee, or toasted nuts.

Chocolate Frosting: Cool ganache to a spreadable consistency and use to fill or frost your favorite cake.

Chocolate Drizzle: Allow ganache to cool just slightly, so that it rolls slowly off the back of a spoon. Drizzle over a naked or frosted cake or use to glaze the top of a loaf cake.

Thumbprint Cookies: Instead of jam, use ganache to fill your favorite thumbprint cookies. Do not fill before baking. Instead, make an indentation in the formed cookies using your thumb and bake. Immediately after baking, lightly reform the indentation again if needed using the back of a spoon. When cookies are completely cool, use warmed ganache to fill the indent. You can also do this with a basic peanut butter cookie recipe. Yum!

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(Photos via Brit + Co)