Here's How Ganache Is Different From Regular Frosting

While ganache is often used as a filling for truffles and other sweets, it's also sometimes used as a frosting for cakes, tortes, and other treats — but frosting and ganache are not one and the same. What's the difference?

According to Joy of Cooking, ganache is a French term that refers to a combination of chocolate and cream. On occasion, a ganache will also include butter or eggs/egg yolks, with the butter used in place of the cream in some variants. When cooled, a ganache is spreadable, but when heated to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, it's a pourable, liquid glaze.

Frosting, on the other hand, can refer to a wide range of items, including a ganache. Taken at its basic dictionary definition, it's simply a sweet, cooked or uncooked mixture that's used for coating or filling cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. Frosting can be a royal icing, a buttercream, a simple frosting made of butter and powdered sugar, or just the stuff that comes out of the can from the grocery store. In other words, all ganaches are frostings, but not all frostings are ganaches.

When would you use a ganache over another type of frosting?

You might choose to use a ganache in your next baking project for a variety of reasons. Ganaches are rich and (when made correctly) silky-smooth, as well as extremely versatile. As already mentioned, you can use the ganache hot as a glaze (when making the ganache, you'll have to heat it to boiling regardless, so you simply let the mixture cool until 85 degrees Fahrenheit and then pour) or cooled as a frosting (just let it cool until it reaches a spreadable consistency). Some bakers use it as decor or a filling once it reaches that cooled consistency, as well, with the help of a piping bag. If the ganache cools to the point that it's unusable, you only have to remelt it until it's at the consistency you need.

Joy of Cooking offers a standard chocolate ganache glaze and frosting recipe that requires 3/4 cup heavy cream and 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chopped chocolate. The recipe comes together in minimal time and then keeps for three days at room temperature or a week refrigerated.

If you've limited your frosting creations to your standard buttercream and meringues thus far, ganache is a simple and easy (while still impressive) addition to your baking repertoire.