I have something amazing on deck for Friday. It is my ultimate special occasion cake. Are you my favorite person in the universe? Is it your birthday? Love chocolate? Then I will make you this cake. And since it’s our birthday this week, what better way to celebrate than with my favorite cake and with lots of chocolate?

This magical mystery cake is topped with chocolate ganache (it’s pronounced “guh-NOSH” in case you’re curious.)  And in case you’ve never had ganache before, it’s a silky-smooth, shiny, not-too-sweet layer of chocolate that can be found on cakes, cookies, Sara’s amazing Chocolate-Glazed Cupcakes with Vanilla Creme Filling, marshmallows, graham crackers, strawberries, fingers, you know. Just about everything.

The kind of chocolate you choose is a matter of personal taste. Traditionally, ganache is on the slightly bitter side of the spectrum, so the Ganache Mafia might hunt you down if they discover you’ve used milk chocolate in your ganache. My feelings? Yeah, milk chocolate isn’t the traditional choice, but who am I to judge you and your chocolate choices? Chocolate is chocolate. It’s kind of like when my brother had kind of wild hair in high school and I told my parents that if that was the worst thing he was doing, things were in pretty good shape. If your options are milk chocolate or drugs, go for the milk chocolate. Feel validated enough?

What you want is equal parts chocolate and whipping cream. Before someone jumps on me, when I say “equal parts,” I don’t REALLY mean equal parts. You’re wanting, say, 8 oz. liquid (heavy cream) with 8 oz. net weight chocolate chips. So unless you’re going to do 1 1/2 c. heavy cream with a 12-oz. bag of chocolate chips, you’re going to need a kitchen scale. Now…there are some pieces of kitchen equipment that I don’t have or find completely essential–don’t tell Sara, but I’ve never even touched an actual Silpat. But every kitchen needs a scale. Period. The good thing is that you don’t need a fancy scale–mine was purchased at Target 7 years ago for about 8 dollars and it still works beautifully. Off my soapscale. Soapbox. Something.

Anyway, all you need to do is combine the heavy cream and the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl that’s big enough for the mixture (I think mine is about 2 1/2-3 c. here). Doesn’t it kind of look like cereal? Only instead of cereal you have chocolate chips and instead of milk you have heavy cream. The true Breakfast of Champions…

Heat it in the microwave over high heat for two minutes. Whisk. You may wonder if you’ve done something horribly wrong. Pop it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds and whisk and repeat every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted and you can incorporate it fully into the cream.

If the ganache is on the thin side, wait a few minutes and then whisk it up again. It thickens REALLY quickly, so you won’t have to wait too long. When it’s “solid,” it will be more like fudge. You can use the solid form a little more like regular frosting or you can use it in its liquid state to drizzle over chocolate, pound, or angel food cake. It also works great as a fondue–just dip berries, cookies, pieces of cake, marshmallows, etc.

If you don’t use it all at once, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container and just heat it up until your ganache reaches the desired consistency.



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