Super Simple Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate cake topped with glossy ganache

Count me in as someone who thought making chocolate ganache was a time-consuming, difficult task, something that require special training. I now know differently.

Ganache is a chocolate glaze, created from pieces of semi-sweet or dark chocolate blended with cream. Proportions can differ based on what the ganache will be used for, with butter often added to create a glossier finish and/or corn syrup to increase the sweetness without the crystallization sugar can cause.

The ganache I made used just two ingredients:

  • 1 12-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream

Using these two ingredients, I made a smooth, glossy, delicious ganache, ready to pour onto a chocolate cake in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s how to make it:

Empty the bag of chocolate chips into a medium bowl.

Heat the cream in the microwave right in the measuring cup, making sure to stop just as it begins to boil (you do not want it to boil over – very, very messy!). Likewise, the cream can be heated in a saucepan on the stove – remove from heat just as it begins to boil.

Pour the hot cream over the chips and let the chips and cream sit for two minutes.

Place a wire whisk into the center of the bowl and slowly blend the cream with the chips from the middle out as they melt. Keep the mixing slow so bubbles are not created in the mixture.

When the chips and cream are thoroughly blended together, let the ganache sit for 3 – 10 minutes to thicken. I waited four minutes before pouring mine over the cake I had baked earlier. The longer the ganache sits, the thicker it will become.

  • Any leftover ganache can sit out at room temperature for a couple of days in a sealed container. A spoonful added to a cup of coffee creates a delightful mocha!
  • Ganache can be refrigerated until firm, and then rolled into balls for truffles.
  • Fill two layers of vanilla cake with vanilla pudding and then pour ganache over the top for a tasty Boston Cream Pie.
  • Use thick, liquid ganache to top cakes, petit fours, dip cookies, or coat chocolates. Cool, thick ganache can be whipped to create a spreadable frosting.

Who knew something so delicious could be so simple to make?


Yes and No at Trader Joe’s

One of the things I’m enjoying about working at Trader Joe’s (besides that fantastic discount) is the opportunity to learn more about all the different and delicious items they offer. Some Trader Joe’s products have been around for a while, but I’ve been discovering lots of new things and have found much I can’t wait to try.

We’re buying most of our groceries at Trader Joe’s now, but avoid items that we can get other places that are just as good and priced lower. Aldi sells great cheese, for example, at lower prices and in sizes that make sense for us, and I like the fresh meat sold at Aldi as well.

There are many things I won’t/don’t buy at Trader Joe’s, even with a discount. It’s not that I think they won’t be delicious or we can’t afford them, but in some cases they contain too many empty calories or seem too frivolous, or I know I can find equally good products for less at other locations.Some of the items we skip buying at TJ’s include (with exceptions noted):

  • ice cream: we do like the tiny ice cream cones once in a while, especially limited edition flavors like the mint, coffee, or pumpkin ginger ones.
  • frozen breakfast items
  • bread & bakery: we like TJ’s whole wheat English muffins, flour tortillas, and flatbread pizza crusts, and occasionally we’ll get some scones and pita bread but that’s it.
  • desserts, frozen or otherwise: a New York cheesecake will come home once in a great while and we’ll occasionally buy a baking mix.
  • cookies & candy: mint JoJos are a requirement at Christmas, and the new cocoa-peanut butter marshmallows are absolutely delicious . . . and I don’t even like marshmallows!
  • dips or deli items: wine country chicken salad is the exception although I recently tried a Toscana cheese and wine spread that I plan to buy.
  • anything spicy: although their spicy products are very popular, most everything spicy from Trader Joe’s is too much for me these days. I have become super sensitive to the heat as I’ve gotten older.
  • beer and sodas: neither of us drink beer, although we did buy a can the other day to make the new beer bread mix, which was very good.
  • frozen pizza: the Bambino mini pepperoni pizzas are the one exception, perfect for an evening when I don’t feel like cooking
  • chips & crackers: the pickle potato chips could be a deal breaker because they are very delicious, but I’ve been able to resist . . . so far. The new mee krob snack from Thailand however is the most delicious snack ever IMO. I just bought six packages as they sell out super fast. I’m eating them sparingly though because I don’t know when they’ll be back in stock again.
  • dairy: eggs, shredded cheese, and the occasional cream, sour cream, or half & half for a recipe are exceptions.
  • coffee
  • flowers
  • toiletries, cleaning, & paper goods: we’ve decided to buy toilet paper and tissues from TJ’s going forward as they’re a good deal with the discount applied.

Some of our new Trader Joe’s favorites are:

  • Korean-style short ribs
  • bulgogi fried rice (love, love, love this!)
  • japchae
  • turkey and stuffing fried rice (a seasonal item)
  • butter chicken
  • mee krob
  • sweet potato gnocchi
  • schwarma chicken thighs
  • lemon scones (when they’re in stock)
  • Danish kringle (in any flavor). We’re glad that this only shows up once in a while because it’s soooo good
  • lemon or blood orange cake mix
  • beer bread mix

A few of these items have made an appearance in the break room since I started working so I was able to try them. Others we’ve bought have come from customer recommendations. My all-time favorite Trader Joe’s product remains the Gaetano d’Aquino pinot grigio, from Italy. I have been drinking this particular wine since it sold for $3.99/bottle, about 15 years now. When we moved to Hawaii in 2014, I sent along three cases in our shipment because I knew how much I would miss it. It’s currently $5.99/bottle, but remains as delicious as always. Brett tries different bottles of red from all over but I remain faithful to the d’Aquino.

There’s lots more at Trader Joe’s that we have yet to try, and new products come out all the time. I pay attention to whether or not something is a limited edition product, because that means it will only be around for a short time, like the pumpkin products in the fall. Although I don’t and won’t stock up, I will buy a couple more of a limited or seasonal product than usual when they are available, like the pumpkin pancake mix in the fall, or the stuffing mix at Thanksgiving. Things sell out quickly at our store, so I know to grab them when I can.

Wants & Needs

I have finally reached a place where I always stop and ask myself if something is a want or need. More importantly, if it’s a want, I don’t go on and try to rationalize purchasing it or talking myself into it. There are no more impulse purchases – I can let things go or go without these days. Brett thankfully got to this place way before I did.

It has taken me 70 years to get here. But Brett and I have a big goals for our remaining years and realize this is our last chance to make them happen, so staying on track with the number of possessions we own as well as our budget (and saving) is more important than ever to both of us. Something has to pretty much be outright essential before we’ll spend on it these days.

I really want a pedicure, but it can wait.

Of course this doesn’t mean I don’t want or need things. I would love some new summer clothes beyond the pants I bought on eBay. Almost everything I brought from Hawaii is worn and I’m fairly well tired of it all as well. I also want to get regular manicures & pedicures (especially the pedicures), but working at Trader Joe’s has ruined any chance I have for nice nails for the time being, and I do what I can for my feet on my own for now. I will probably allow myself a pedicure once sandal season begins, but that is still a ways off. I very much want a rug in our living room, but the bigger apartment we move to might be carpeted so I keep talking myself out of a rug even though I’ve seen a few that would work for us. I also don’t want to pay to store a rug when we leave Tennessee.

My favorite pajamas are these cotton ones from Garnet Hill. They are super comfortable, and last for years. The long-sleeved version on the right will go on my Christmas list this year.

I do need new pajamas. My summer jammies are over three years old now and the fabric is thin and fraying as they were worn daily in Hawaii and after and have been washed and dried frequently. They’re still in good enough condition (I hope) to see me until the end of this summer but won’t get me through next year. I need new cold weather pajamas as well. I’ve been wearing old t-shirts and inexpensive leggings ever since we began traveling in 2018, but they’re on their last legs as well, and have been surprisingly almost too warm for our apartment this winter. I am going to put cool/cold weather pajamas on my Christmas list this year and see what happens, and will wait and purchase new summer pajamas next year when I know the ones I have now are past saving. That’s it for actual needs though.

Both Brett and I constantly see things we would like to buy, but these days we’re able to talk ourselves out of them, or find ways to work around owning them. Even though we enjoy our simple life and owning less, sometimes that still can take some real effort on both our parts. In the meantime we use what we have, fix or mend things if we can, and continue to go without. We are blessed with generous children who indulge us from time to time as well, but it’s nothing we expect or depend on.

Time is flying by and before we know it we will be ready to start our next adventure. Recognizing needs, holding off on wants, and enjoying the simplicity of our lives now is going to a long way to making sure we’re in the best possible position when it’s time for that to happen.