Shiny Chocolate ganache icing for cakes

A very simple and indulgent shiny icing: this ganache is not too sweet and sets to give a nice sheen – an ideal visual, especially if you are not going to be embellishing the cake with further goodies! I have used this recipe, and variations of it, to include coffee, caramel and the like for years as an incredibly easy finish for cakes.

I have used other chocolate icing and glazes, such as chocolate mirror glazes (made with cocoa powder and gelatine rather than chocolate and liquid glucose). While they give an incredibly shiny finish, I tend to prefer the fuller chocolate flavour you get from using chocolate rather than cocoa powder, so I would often (but not always) sacrifice some of the shine for depth of chocolatiness!

Chocolate & strawberry ganache cake

This icing is wonderful used to cover an entire cake as it goes smooth as it gets poured over with minimal work and in seconds. You get a thin, but noticeable, layer although you can leave the glaze to set a bit further in the pan so that it becomes spreadable, and then apply thickly if you prefer – as you would with buttercream. It also pipes easily when firm: ideal for cupcakes and the like.

It it best to pour this icing over a cake that has already been coated thinly in buttercream (or a good quality jam such as apricot or sieved raspberry) so that the glaze sticks; without the buttercream or jam you risk getting crumbs in the glaze.

Chocolate Birthday Cake 2

Birthday cake using ganache as an icing

To coat with ease, the cake is best placed on a wire rack with greaseproof underneath to catch the spills: it can be easily removed and placed onto a plate or cake board once set using a large palette knife or similar.

Notes:
(I) The cake should be very cold so that the glaze starts to set as soon as it settles on the cake: I find freezing the cake for about an hour or so beforehand is best.

(II) Any surplus (not least the bits that drip down the cake and onto the greaseproof) can be chilled and, when firm, made into balls, coated with tempered dark or white chocolate and made into exquisite chocolate truffles.

The pictures in this post are of a cake that was filled with a light chocolate mousse: essentially a version of the chocolate mousse cake. Now I left the sides fairly rough after icing, as I went further with the cake to have a tempered chocolate collar surrounding the cake and fresh strawberries on top – just to make it a touch more special. Granted, the shine was less noticeable when all the fripperies were added but in this case it was the gorgeously indulgent chocolate flavour of the glaze that was needed.

 

Chocolate ganache icing – enough to cover an 8″ round cake (top & sides)

  • 170ml double cream
  • 50g liquid glucose
  • 140g best quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • pinch of salt

(1) Bring the cream and liquid glucose to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Pour over the chocolate and stir gently until the chocolate has melted and the mixture becomes smooth and glossy.

Ready to pour over a cake

Ready to pour over a cake

(2) Pour over a prepared cake and allow the icing to cascade down the sides. Use a palette knife if needed but the glaze should be runny enough to smooth itself out.

(3) Refrigerate until set.

NB: for additional flavours, add a little coffee (instant granules, dissolved in water is best) to the cream at the start. Or a little caramel sauce. Rum and brandy can be added, too: basically, the is an almost endless array of different flavours than can be added.

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