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      Frostings and fillings

      White Or Dark Chocolate Ganache

      Ah the miracle of ganache! It’s like the plaster of the cake world! Both useful and delicious, a rarity in the land of cake decorating when sometimes form can take president over flavour.

             Use this recipe to get those coveted sharp edges, to make your buttercream silky and rich, to roll yourself some truffles - and everything in between!

      I’ll talk you through two ways of making it, the first one is if you’re organised, the second one is you’re like me 90% of the time and not organised. Either way you’ll get the same result, it’s just one requires you standing by the microwave and stirring every ten seconds which can get a bit boring.

             If you’re using ganache to ganache a cake, I would recommend you use the white chocolate version. Not only does it go with all flavours, from lemon to chocolate fudge, but it doesn’t stain your fondant so much and I find sometimes laying white fondant on dark ganache, if it’s done too thinly, can show through and make it look a little bit grey. 

             My last bit of advice is to have a damp tea towel on hand and use a side scraper when cleaning up the clumps and splashes that will inevitably end up on your work tops. Oh and don’t wear your best frock, things are going to get messy... 

      Ingredients:

      White chocolate ganache:

      -450ml double cream 
      -1350g white chocolate chips
       
      Dark chocolate ganache:
       
      -900ml double cream
      -900g dark choc chips (minimum 53% cocoa solids)
       
      You will also need:
      -Small saucepan
      -Pyrex box
      -Rubber spatula 
      -Hand held electric whisk
       
      Makes approximately enough to layer the inside and cover the outside of an 8” cake.

        

      Method One:
       

      • White Or Dark Chocolate Ganache:Place the chocolate into a Pyrex bowl.
      • Pour the double cream into a small saucepan, place the pan on a medium heat and stir occasionally to make sure the cream doesn’t catch on the bottom. Bring to the boil.
      • Pour the cream into the bowl of chocolate. Put the pan aside and place your hands on both sides of the bowl, swirl the mixture until all the chips are submerged. Let it stand for a couple of minutes.
      • Concentrating on the centre of the mixture, stir briskly in a tight circle with a spatula until you get a fudgy, glossy consistency. Once you have achieved this, stir in a wider circle and incorporate the rest of the cream into the chocolate until it has the same consistency.
      • If you find that some chips still haven’t melted then you can zap it for 10 seconds at a time on full power in the microwave. However, proceed with caution and only do this until its just melted as you run the risk of over heating your mixture.
      • If you’re adding the ganache to buttercream then you can use it now. If you are using it to ganache a cake then leave it to stand until it sets to a peanut butter like consistency. This may take several hours. You can speed up the process by putting it in the freezer, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes at a time and then using an electric whisk to thicken it up. You’ll need to repeat this several times and scrape down the sides of the bowl each time so the ganache doesn’t get any lumps. 
       
      Method Two:
       
      • Place the chocolate in a Pyrex bowl and put it in the microwave. Heat on full power power for around 2 minutes, taking it out every 10 seconds to give it a good stir. When it’s 3/4’s melted, removed from the microwave and keep stirring until any remaining chocolate chips are incorporated. If the odd stubborn one remains, heat for another 5-10 seconds and then stir again until it vanishes.
      • Pour the cream into the melted chocolate and immediately whisk together using the electric whisk on full speed until combined.
      • If you’re adding the ganache to buttercream then you can use it now. If you are using it to ganache a cake then leave it to stand until it sets to a peanut butter like consistency. This may take several hours. You can speed up the process by putting it in the freezer, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes at a time and then using an electric whisk to thicken it up. You’ll need to repeat this several times and scrape down the sides of the bowl each time so the ganache doesn’t get any lumps. 
      How to store:
       
      Cover the bowl with clingfilm and store in the fridge for up to two weeks or the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it again, let it come to room temperature and warm in the microwave for about 45 seconds. When it begins to loosen from the side of the bowl, cut the solid mass into quarters with a large palette knife or spoon. Warm for about the same time again and cut into 8 pieces. Now break the chunks up using an electric whisk at full speed until it goes mushy. Warm for 30 seconds and blend again with the electric whisk. Then warm again for 10 seconds and blend again, repeat the warming and blending until it reaches the desired consistency. 

        Classic American Buttercream

        This is a really versatile recipe that is super easy to make and keeps for ages. Because of that, you can be confident leaving it at room temperature on, or in your cake creations and it will hold. Essentially it’s 1 part butter and two parts icing sugar, stay close to that and you can tailor it to your own tastes. For example, if I’m topping a cupcake with a generous swirl of buttercream and need something a little slicker and less sweet, I might go down to 1 part butter and 1 part icing sugar. Bare in mind though, the more icing sugar, the fluffier, paler and more stable it is, so I wouldn’t advise this for the inside of a tiered cake in the height of summer!

        Speaking of variations, I’ve included a bunch below - but feel free to experiment yourself. For example, add a couple of shots of espresso to the chocolate buttercream and there you have a mocha filling. Or scatter in a handful of toasted coconut chips and you’re on your way to making my favourite Frappuccino flavour! 

        This will make roughly enough to layer and frost the outside of 1 x 8” cake. If you have any left, you can freeze it for up to 3 months so you have some ready for your next project. 
         

        Ingredients:

        -500g salted butter (at room temperature)
        -1kg icing sugar

        Variations:

        -Vanilla buttercream - Add 3 x tablespoon of vanilla extract or 3 x vanilla pods
        -Lemon buttercream - Add the finely grated zest of 6 lemons and the juice of 2.
        -Orange buttercream - Add the finely grated zest of 6 lemons
        -Chocolate buttercream - replace half the buttercream with chocolate ganache (see recipe)
        -Cream cheese - replace half of the butter with full fat Philadelphia cream cheese. (This particular variation is only suitable for cakes that can be stored in the refrigerator)  

        You will also need:

        -Freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment or electric hand whisk

          

        Method:

        • Place the butter in the bowl on an electric mixer. Make sure it’s room temperature, if not zap it in the microwave.
        • Sift the icing sugar on top. 
        • Bring the mixture together at a low speed. (HOT TIP! Before turning the mixer on, wrap a tea towel round the gap between the bowl and beater, pinching it at the back, otherwise clouds of icing sugar will go everywhere and you’ll end up looking like the ghost of Christmas past!)
        • Turn the speed up to medium, then high and beat for a good few minutes until pale and fluffy. 
        • Add any colourings or flavour variations and beat further until combined. 
        • Use immediately or store for a couple of weeks in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. Beat it again once it’s reached room temperature.