First, I have to admit that I’m no expert at pouring ganache. I’ve only done it twice as a matter of fact. But I learned a few good tips along the way and wanted to share them with you.
I had a few missteps my first time (which is the subject of this post), which I discuss below. Hopefully this will help you all do it right the first time.
So, here goes… to cover an 8-inch around, 4-inch tall cake, I used:
25 ounces (by weight) semi sweet chocolate chips or other chocolate to suit your needs and taste (but not white chocolate)
25 fluid ounces heavy (whipping) cream
1 T soft butter (the butter gives it more shine)
You can vary the amounts somewhat to suit your taste. Using more whipping cream will give you thinner ganache while using more chocolate will give you a thicker ganache. Also, I had more ganache than I really needed. I just wanted to make sure I had plenty. I did two pours and had about half the ganache left over. Ganache freezes well, so it wasn't a big deal.
You can scale the amounts up or down as needed to suit your size cake.
Before you get started, ice your cake in buttercream. If you want to make it a thinner layer of buttercream, that's probably fine, the key is to make sure it's smooth. It should be as smooth as you would ice a regular buttercream cake, because any imperfections in your icing will show up in the final cake. Or, if you aren't using buttercream, at the least trim the sides and top of the cake with a sharp knife so they're as smooth as possible.
Place your iced cake in the refrigerator to cool. A well-chilled cake will ensure your icing doesn't run off the sides of the cake. Make sure your cake is on a same-size cake board. (i.e 8-inch cake on an 8-inch cake board.)
Place the chocolate in a bowl. In a saucepan, heat the cream just until it’s on the verge of boiling.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes.
Then stir with a spoon. It will look lumpy at first.
Keep stirring and it will start to smooth out and come together. Add the butter.
At this point you can use an immersion blender to get the final bits of not-quite melted chocolate chips mixed in. Keep the blade immersed in the chocolate to minimize the air bubbles. When I did this part, it left a lot of air bubbles, which I was worried about. But they didn't seem to affect the final product, so I guess it was OK. If I do this again, I might try stirring with a spoon until completely smooth.
Get a cookie sheet with sides and line it with wax paper. Place a cooling rack in the pan. Put something on the rack that will elevate the cake slightly. Make sure it's something stable. (I used a lid from a Gladware container, which isn't the most stable, LOL.)
I need to talk about the temperature of the ganache for a minute here. Before you pour your ganache, it needs to be cooled. If it's too warm, it will be too thin and you won't get a nice covering of ganache on your cake. (That's what happened to me as you'll see in a minute.) For my first pour, it still felt a warm to the touch. I measured it with my digital thermometer and it was 98 degrees F... too hot! Then I stirred and waited, and stirred and waited. It probably took an hour too cool sufficiently. When it got to 84 degrees, it no longer felt warm to the touch. I did my second pour at that point and it worked much better. But use caution, you don't want to let it get too cool or it will thicken.
Anyway, place your chilled cake on the rack. Put the ganache into a container with a pour spout.
Starting in the center of the cake, start pouring the ganache. Move the cup in an ever-widening circle above the cake, until the top is completely covered. Keep pouring once you get toward the edges until the sides are completely covered. (I liked having plenty of ganache at this point to ensure the sides are covered completely with no bare spots.)
Let the cake sit for a minute. Scrape the bottom edge of any excess chocolate. I moved the cake and rack to another cookie sheet lined with wax paper. You can see where the sides of the cake got lumpy and bumpy because the ganache was too warm/thin and it continued to drip down the sides.
I chilled the cake in the refrigerator until the remaining ganache was no longer warm to the touch (84 degrees F on the thermometer). Then I smoothed the sides of the cake with a spatula in preparation for another (hopefully better) try. If you're doing a second pour, you might scrape some of the chocolate off the top and then smooth. The second time I did this I did two pours and I ended up with too thick of a layer on top.
Then I did a second pour of ganache the same way as the first. That turned out much better.
I let the cake sit for just a minute, scraped the excess from the bottom, moved the cake and rack to my other cookie sheet, and chilled the cake in the refrigerator. You want to get it into the fridge so that the chocolate will set up.
Here's the finished cake. From here you can place it on a larger sized cake board or serving dish. Use royal icing or buttercream to attach the cake to the board. Don't use ganache to attach... it may slide around. It's pretty with some simple borders using lighter colored chocolate icing.
You can reuse the excess ganache that collected in the pan, as well as the unused ganache. It also freezes well. If frozen, thaw it to room temperature then heat it slowly in the microwave or on top of a double boiler before using. Then cool it to the correct temperature, if necessary, and use.
OK, thanks for sticking with me here. If anyone has any other tips or pointers on how they do it, feel free to share. Again, I'm far from an expert. Any questions, just ask.