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How to get the best out of chocolate

From ganache and mousse to treats galore, chocolate is the gift that keeps on giving! Here’s how to get the best out of it.  

Chocolate 101 

Get the perfect ganache every time with a little effort, some patience and our easy guide below: 

Chop the chocolate   

  • Finely chop chocolate with a knife for easy melting. A serrated knife works best if you have a lot of chocolate..  

Heat the cream  

  • Bring the cream to a simmer before pouring over the chopped chocolate.
  • Once the cream has been added, it’s essential to let it stand undisturbed for 1-2 minutes to give the chocolate a chance to fully melt before gently stirring. This way, you don’t end up with bits of solid chocolate pieces in your ganache.  

What to do if it splits  

  • If your ganache looks grainy, that means the emulsion has broken.
  • How to fix it? Warm the mixture over a double boiler while whisking vigorously. If that doesn’t work, whisk in a small amount of room- temperature milk or even a liqueur (we recommend a coffee-flavour). Don’t use cream as the mixture already contains too much fat, so it won’t come together at all!  

Percentages matter!  

  • Pay attention to the percentages on the chocolate label – always use 60% or more cocoa. Knowing the chocolate’s percentage also affects how well the chocolate melts and mixes in with the cream.  


  • Butter: Butter can stabilise a ganache and some chocolatiers say it ‘fixes’ the flavour, adding shine and richness. A little goes a long way so 1 Tbsp (15ml) will do. Stir the butter in last. 
  • Cream: Depending on the purpose of the ganache, add just enough cream. Always heat your cream to a gentle simmer, but do not boil it as the cream can seize your chocolate or split the ganache, you’ll end up with a grainy rather than a smooth ganache. (The ratio of chocolate to cream determines the consistency of ganache).  


  • Place a piece of clingfilm directly on the surface of the ganache before storing. This helps to prevent a crust from forming.
    Store at room temperature for up to two days. Refrigerate if you want to store it for longer periods.  

Chocolate ganache ratios  

  • For a medium ganache: 1:1, equal parts chocolate and cream.  
  • For spreading, piping and making truffles: 2:1, two parts chocolate to one part cream. (This ganache cools to a firm and smooth texture). 
  • For a pourable ganache best used for a glaze and sauces: 1:2, one part chocolate to two parts cream. (This can be whipped into a mousse-like consistency.)
  • For the greatest precision, measure the chocolate and cream by weight rather than volume.  

Also read: How to make your own chocolate spread at home

The perfect chocolate mousse   

Use good quality ingredients  

  • Make sure that you use a good quality chocolate – opt for 60% cocoa and up. You’re looking for cream with a 30% fat content or more, so double cream or fresh whipping works best.  

Good prep is key  

  • Read the recipe twice and make sure that you thoroughly follow the instructions. Finely chop your chocolate before melting and chill your cream plus the bowl before whipping.  

Pro Tip: Keep your bowl in the freezer overnight.  

Whip it real good  

  • The key to a really good mousse that is light and creamy is whipping your cream to firm peaks. Be sure not to overmix or undermix your cream! Undermixing results in a mousse that does not set properly and lacks that light and airy texture.  

The folding process  

  • Be gentle! When mixing ingredients for a mousse, the cream needs to be gently folded in with the other ingredients using a spatula or a big serving spoon. Avoid mixing vigorously as this knocks out all the air and results in a denser texture.  

Let it chill  

Chill your chocolate mousse in the fridge for at least 15-30 minutes before serving. If you are making a layered mousse, be sure to properly set each layer before adding the next.  

Words: Gail Damon

Photography: Fresh Living Magazine/ Shutterstock

Also read: 3 yummy chocolate recipes to make with your kids

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