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Whipped caramel ganache piped on cupcakes.

Caramel Ganache

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Caramel ganache is a delicious addition to countless desserts and only requires 5 ingredients. Whip it into a wonderfully airy frosting to top cupcakes or use it as a filling for choux pastry.

Whipped caramel ganache piped on cupcakes.
Caramel ganache

How to Make Caramel Ganache

This caramel ganache is composed of caramel sauce and chocolate ganache. Let’s briefly discuss the general process before going into each step in detail:

  1. Dry caramel: Melt sugar in batches then keep heating until caramelized.
  2. Caramel sauce: Mix in butter and heavy cream then set aside to cool down.
  3. Chocolate ganache: Melt chocolate then add hot heavy cream and stir until smooth.
  4. Caramel ganache: Add the caramel sauce to the chocolate ganache.
  5. Whipped ganache (optional): If you’d like to make a light whipped ganache, add cold heavy cream to the caramel ganache. Chill it then whip it.
Swirls of caramel chocolate ganache piped on cupcakes.
Caramel ganache made with dark chocolate

Ingredients

Sugar

You’ll need white granulated sugar to make caramel. We’ll be making dry caramel today which is less likely to crystallize than wet caramel. As a reminder, dry caramel is made by simply heating sugar in a saucepan while wet caramel has a little bit of water added. We discussed the pros and cons of dry versus wet caramel when making salted caramel sauce.

Heavy cream

It’s best to use cream with a 35% fat content, especially if you plan on whipping the ganache. Cream with less than 30% fat won’t whip. The amount of heavy cream used will affect the flavor and texture of the caramel ganache. Let’s look at some of the roles of heavy cream in this recipe:

Decreases the sweetness: Skipping the heavy cream would leave you mainly with caramel and white chocolate, both quite sweet. The heavy cream balances out the sweetness. If you find the caramel ganache too sweet for your taste, you can add more heavy cream. Just keep in mind that the more cream you add, the milder the caramel flavor will be.

Softens the caramel ganache: The caramel ganache will firm up as the caramel, chocolate and butter cool down. The amount of heavy cream used will determine how firm or runny the ganache is.

Lightens the ganache: When whipping the caramel ganache, the more heavy cream there is, the lighter and fluffier the ganache will be.

Three cupcakes topped with whipped caramel ganache.
Caramel ganache piped with a Wilton 2D tip

Chocolate

I use couverture chocolate, with a higher percentage of cocoa butter. You can use either white chocolate or dark chocolate. You can just replace them in equal amounts although I prefer to use a smaller amount of dark chocolate. If you use too much dark chocolate, it will overpower the caramel flavor. The color of the ganache will depend on the type and quantity of chocolate used. The more dark chocolate is used, the darker the color of the ganache.

Butter

A little bit of butter for richness and flavor.

Honey (optional)

Use honey with a mild flavor such as acacia honey. The honey is optional, but will yield a smoother ganache.

Salt

I like to add a pinch of salt, to enhance all the flavors and cut through the sweetness. If you’d like to make a salted caramel ganache, simply increase the amount of salt.

Two cupcakes topped with caramel ganache made with white chocolate and dark chocolate.
Caramel ganache made with white chocolate (left) and dark chocolate (right)

Step-by-Step Instructions

Dry caramel

  • Cover the bottom of a medium-sized, heavy bottomed saucepan with a thin layer of sugar (about 1/5 of the sugar).
  • Place over medium-high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, lower the heat to low. Gently shake the saucepan if needed, to spread out the sugar so that it melts evenly. Reduce the heat even further if you notice that some of the sugar is already caramelizing while parts of it haven’t melted yet. Tip: Once most of the sugar has melted, you can gently push the remaining sugar crystals towards the melted sugar with a heatproof spatula.
  • Pour another thin layer of sugar over the melted sugar. Repeat this process until you’ve added all of the sugar. I melted the sugar in 5 stages.

Tip: Don’t worry if you get sugar clumps in the caramel. Just lower the heat if needed to avoid burning the caramel and stir until all the sugar melts.

  • Keep cooking, stirring as needed, until all the sugar has melted and turned amber. A light colored caramel will be sweeter than a darker one. The more you cook the caramel, the deeper the flavor and the more bitter it will become.

Caramel sauce

  • Turn the heat off. Keeping the saucepan far from you, add the butter and stir immediately with a heatproof spatula until fully combined. The extremely hot caramel will bubble up so please be very careful not to burn yourself.
  • Gradually pour in the heavy cream, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. If you add too much heavy cream in one go, the caramel will become lumpy. Add it very slowly and make sure it’s not cold. If you forgot to take it out of the fridge, briefly heat it in the microwave before using it. Tip: If there are lumps in the caramel, return to low heat and stir until completely smooth. Note that the longer you cook the caramel sauce, the thicker it will be.
  • Transfer to another container to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool down slightly while you prepare the chocolate ganache.

Chocolate ganache

  • Place the chopped chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring in-between, until completely melted. Set aside. Tip: Make sure the bowl is completely dry before adding the chocolate. Droplets of water could cause the chocolate to seize making it thick and lumpy.
  • Heat the heavy cream and honey until simmering (not boiling).
  • Pour over the melted chocolate in 2-3 additions, stirring until fully combined.

Add caramel sauce to the ganache

  • Pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate ganache and stir with a spoon to combine. Add a pinch of salt (or to taste).

You can stop at this point if you’d like, and skip the cold heavy cream, for a sweeter ganache with a deeper caramel flavor. The ganache will thicken as it cools down but will remain slightly pourable at room temperature. It will firm up once chilled but will be easily spreadable and can also be whipped if desired.

Add cold heavy cream

  • Mix in the cold heavy cream. The ganache will be very runny at this point. Optional: If the ganache isn’t completely smooth, strain it through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any caramel pieces before chilling it.
  • Cover and chill for 3 hours or until cold (ideally overnight).

Why not add the cold heavy cream to the caramel sauce from the beginning? There are two main reasons: 1) Adding a cold liquid to the caramel ganache will cool it down faster so you can whip it sooner. 2) To ensure the heavy cream can be whipped properly. If you accidentally heat it too much, it might not whip as well.

  • Transfer the chilled ganache to a mixing bowl. Mix with a hand mixer (on low speed) for about 2 minutes or until fluffy and just firm enough to pipe. Avoid mixing it for too long or it might become grainy.
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with desired tip with caramel ganache and chill if needed before use.

Caramel Ganache with Dark Chocolate

You can easily replace the white chocolate with dark chocolate if you’d like. The process is exactly the same. Just add the caramel sauce to the dark chocolate ganache then mix in the cold heavy cream.

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Caramel Ganache

Caramel Ganache

Recipe by Tanya
5 from 1 vote

Caramel ganache is a delicious addition to countless desserts and only requires 5 ingredients. Whip it into a wonderfully airy frosting to top cupcakes or use it as a filling for choux pastry. For a dark chocolate caramel ganache, replace the white chocolate with 50 g (1.8 oz.) dark chocolate (65% cocoa).

Course: DessertCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Easy
Yield

2

cups
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes
Chill time

3

hours 

Ingredients

  • For the caramel sauce
  • 100 g white granulated sugar (3.5 oz.)

  • 30 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces at room temperature (1.1 oz.)

  • 160 g heavy cream (35% fat), at room temperature (5.6 oz.)

  • For the chocolate ganache
  • 90 g white chocolate (31% cocoa), chopped into small pieces (3.2 oz.)

  • 40 g heavy cream (35% fat) (1.4 oz.)

  • 1 teaspoon mild honey (7 g/0.25 oz.), optional (see notes)

  • pinch of salt (or to taste)

  • For the whipped ganache
  • 120 g heavy cream (35% fat), cold (see notes) (4.2 oz.)

Directions

  • Making dry caramel: Cover the bottom of a medium-sized, heavy bottomed saucepan with a thin layer of sugar (about 1/5 of the sugar).
  • Place over medium-high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, lower the heat to low. Gently shake the saucepan if needed, to spread out the sugar so that it melts evenly. Reduce the heat even further if you notice that some of the sugar is already caramelizing while parts of it haven’t melted yet. Tip: Once most of the sugar has melted, you can gently push the remaining sugar crystals towards the melted sugar with a heatproof spatula.
  • Pour another thin layer of sugar over the melted sugar. Repeat this process until you’ve added all of the sugar. I melted the sugar in 5 stages. Tip: Don’t worry if you get sugar clumps in the caramel. Just lower the heat if needed to avoid burning the caramel and stir until all the sugar melts.
  • Keep cooking, stirring as needed, until all the sugar has melted and turned amber. A light colored caramel will be sweeter than a darker one. The more you cook the caramel, the deeper the flavor and the more bitter it will become.
  • Making caramel sauce: Turn the heat off. Keeping the saucepan far from you, add the butter and stir immediately with a heatproof spatula until fully combined. The extremely hot caramel will bubble up so please be very careful not to burn yourself.
  • Gradually pour in the heavy cream (160 g/5.6 oz.), stirring constantly to avoid lumps. If you add too much heavy cream in one go, the caramel will become lumpy. Add it very slowly and make sure it’s not cold. If you forgot to take it out of the fridge, briefly heat it in the microwave before using it. Tip: If there are lumps in the caramel, return to low heat and stir until completely smooth. Note that the longer you cook the caramel sauce, the thicker it will be.
  • Transfer to another container to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool down slightly while you prepare the chocolate ganache.
  • Making chocolate ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring in-between, until completely melted. Set aside. Tip: Make sure the bowl is completely dry before adding the chocolate. Droplets of water could cause the chocolate to seize making it thick and lumpy.
  • Heat the heavy cream (40 g/1.4 oz.) and honey until simmering (not boiling). Pour over the melted chocolate in 2-3 additions, stirring until fully combined.
  • Pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate ganache and stir with a spoon to combine. Add a pinch of salt (or to taste). See recipe notes below if you’d like to stop at this point and skip the cold heavy cream (next step),
  • Mix in the cold heavy cream (120 g/4.2 oz.). The ganache will be very runny at this point. Optional: If the ganache isn’t completely smooth, strain it through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any caramel pieces before chilling it.
  • Cover and chill for 3 hours or until cold (ideally overnight).
  • Transfer the chilled ganache to a mixing bowl. The ganache should be cold or it won’t whip properly. Mix with a hand mixer (on low speed) for about 2 minutes or until fluffy and just firm enough to pipe. Avoid mixing it for too long or it might become grainy. Tip: It’s best to whip the ganache when you plan on using it. It will deflate with time.
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with desired tip with caramel ganache and chill if needed before use. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Make-ahead tips: The ganache (before whipping) can be stored in the refrigerator, well covered, for a few days. Whip the ganache the day you plan on using it.
  • Yield: The recipe (with cold heavy cream added) will yield about 2 cups of whipped ganache. It should be enough for about 8-10 cupcakes.
  • Heavy cream: Adding cold heavy cream (step 11) will yield a lighter, fluffier ganache and will decrease the sweetness. You can add as much heavy cream as you’d like or you could even omit it completely for an intense, sweet caramel flavor.
  • If you skip the cold heavy cream, the ganache will thicken as it cools down but will remain slightly pourable at room temperature. It will firm up once chilled but will be easily spreadable and can also be whipped if desired.
  • When skipping the cold heavy cream or using less than indicated in the recipe, it’s best to cover by placing a piece of parchment paper onto the surface of the ganache.
  • Chocolate: For best results, use couverture chocolate, which has a higher percentage of cocoa butter.
  • Honey: Use honey with a mild flavor such as acacia honey. The honey is optional, but will yield a smoother ganache.
  • Salt: You can add more salt if you’d like to make a salted caramel ganache.
  • Chocolate ganache: I find it best to use part of the heavy cream to make a chocolate ganache instead of simply pouring the caramel sauce over melted chocolate. It will be much easier to combine all the ingredients and get a smooth ganache.
  • Dark chocolate: You can just replace the white chocolate with dark chocolate although I prefer to use a smaller amount of dark chocolate (50 g/1.8 oz.). If you use too much dark chocolate, it will overpower the caramel flavor. The color of the ganache will depend on the type and quantity of chocolate used. The more dark chocolate is used, the darker the color of the ganache.
  • Safety precautions: Caramel is extremely hot. If you want to be extra cautious, wear long sleeves and kitchen gloves. Keep a bowl of ice water near you in case the caramel splatters.
  • Sugar: It’s best to use white granulated sugar made from sugarcane, not sugar beets. Beet sugar does not behave the same way as cane sugar and you might have issues when caramelizing the sugar. It won’t always be written on the packaging however whether it is from sugarcane or sugar beets. If that’s the case, use what you have and if you repeatedly encounter an issue, try changing the sugar. Avoid using unrefined sugars (such as muscovado sugar) which might contain impurities and cause crystallization.
  • It’s best to use a heavy-bottomed, light-colored saucepan with high sides (to protect from splattering) when making caramel. Avoid non-stick pans.
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