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Use a serrated knife to chop the chocolate into small pieces. Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl (with butter, if using) and set aside.
Warm the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan to just simmering (small bubbles...NOT boiling).
Pour the cream onto the chocolate, cover and let sit for about 2 to 3 minutes, then start stirring. At first it will look grainy, but keep stirring until the mixture is smooth. Add any flavorings (if using) and stir again.
The ganache is ready to use as a drizzled frosting after cooling slightly, or as a filling when chilled and solid.
For a ganache frosting, allow the ganache to cool to room temperature. Use an immersion blender or a hand mixer to whip the ganache until it's thick, yet spreadable and lightened in color, about 4 to 5 minutes.