The Absolute Best Type Of Chocolate To Use For Ganache

In the hierarchy of chocolate desserts, anything with ganache deserves a top-spot listing. It's creamy, rich, versatile, and typically derives from high-quality ingredients. That's why the type of chocolate used for ganache is crucial. It can, in fact, define the entire dessert for which it's bound. Scrimping on quality may be tempting, especially with grocery costs  in flux, but this is one place where it pays to not cut corners. 

As the saying goes, if you're going to do something, do it right. Cooking with chocolate, especially when it's velvety chocolate ganache, means determining the absolute best kind of chocolate to use. That can involve many things, including considerations such as pure cocoa content, sugar ratios, or sustainable cocoa-farming practices. But setting those things aside momentarily, the essential characteristic you're looking for is whether the chocolate for your ganache is labeled as a baking chocolate. 

Sometimes referred to as cooking chocolate, it typically comes in chunks or bars rather than chips. It's also available in the form of batons and pistoles, all with the aim of blending well with other ingredients for making ganache or other chocolatey delights. Baking chocolate works differently than standard chocolate bars because it's a pure form of chocolate that melts more smoothly. It's made from a mixture of cocoa solids and cocoa butter, with limited or no amounts of sugar, leaving a blank slate for making things like ganache. Chocolate chips do not work in the same way, for a very specific reason. 

The best chocolate ensures a perfect ganache

While chocolate chips are intended for cooking and may have similar characteristics to baking chocolate, they're specifically engineered with stabilizers to keep their form in cookies or other baked goods. That's the exact opposite of what you want for a silky, smooth ganache. Chips will take much longer to melt, risking a clumpy or overcooked mess rather than pourable deliciousness.  

Choosing the best kind of chocolate for ganache also involves your personal taste preference for semi-sweet, bittersweet, or dark chocolate. Many versions recommend semi-sweet chocolate with 35–45% cacao for a straight ganache with no added sugar. However, the beauty of baking chocolate is the ability to customize and sweeten on your own terms. Our Muscovado Chocolate Ganache Recipe recommends using a dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids, and then adding artisanal muscovado sugar for a unique caramel-toffee flavor. The easier-to-find brown sugar works as well. 

Ganache essentially requires only heavy cream and chocolate. After choosing the perfect baking chocolate for your ganache, there's no need to actually melt it over heat. In fact, it's best to avoid doing so. Instead, heat up the cream and any optional sugar or sea salt in a saucepan, pour it over the chopped or broken bits of the chocolate waiting in a separate bowl, and mix until smooth. The warm cream mixture will melt that carefully chosen chocolate into liquid lusciousness. Congratulations; you've now created the perfect ganache with your own custom touch.