Although professional pastry chefs might disagree, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making chocolate glaze. A traditional chocolate glaze -- or ganache -- starts with heavy cream, but you can substitute table cream, half-and-half or evaporated milk. Half-and-half gives chocolate glaze a lighter texture -- perfect for drizzling over baked goods and ice cream.
Pour It On
Although heavy whipping cream is the classic choice for making ganache or chocolate glaze, you can substitute half-and-half instead. When made with heavy cream, ganache quickly thickens as it cools to a fudgey consistency. If you want to use it as a glaze, you must work quickly, pouring it over any baked good while it's still warm. Half-and-half permanently thins down ganache. It will thicken as it cools, but it will remain more pourable than a traditional ganache. If it becomes too thick, heat it gently or add a bit more half-and-half.
Make the Switch
To substitute half-and-half for heavy cream in a chocolate glaze, use the same amount of half-and-half as you would cream -- typically a ratio of 1 part cream to 1 part chocolate, by weight. The classic method for making a glaze or ganache is to pour hot cream -- or half-and-half -- over finely chopped chocolate and whisk until it's smooth. Purists stick with this method, but you can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler before whisking in the half-and-half, or even combine chocolate and half-and-half in a glass bowl and microwave it until it's just melted. Whisk only until the chocolate is melted, though. If you continue to stir the glaze as it cools, it will become grainy. A traditional glaze is made from semisweet or dark chocolate, but you can also use milk or white chocolate for a milder flavor.
The main advantage to using half-and-half over heavy cream is that the glaze stays a glaze and doesn't become too thick. Another big perk, though, involves your waistline. One cup of heavy whipping cream has 821 calories and 88 grams of fat, 55 grams of which are saturated. One cup of half-and-half has 315 calories -- less than half the calories in whipping cream -- and 28 grams of fat, including 17 grams of saturated fat. Chocolate glaze will never be a diet food, but you can feel a little better about indulging in a glaze made with half-and-half.
A chocolate glaze made with half-and-half whips up in five minutes or less and you can use it in dozens of recipes. Pour it over a cake or ice cream. Dip marshmallows, graham crackers, cookies, bars and fruit in it. Bottle it up and give it as a gift to friends. Store chocolate glaze in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and microwave it for a few seconds to warm it.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."
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