This is the basic, mother recipe out of which all other ganache recipes will spring. It makes enough to frost a two-layer 8" cake (with leftovers for sauce) or a two-layer 9" cake. Unless you like to sneak little "tastes" along the way. Then you'll come up short and will have no one but yourself to blame.
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use Ghirardelli chips)
1-2/3 cups cream
If not using chips, chop the chocolate into pea-sized pieces. Or, process in a food processor until finely chopped. (The first method is time consuming and difficult; the second is messy. Buy chips.)
Place chopped or chipped chocolate into a heat-resistant glass or metal bowl.
Measure cream into a Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave on high until boiling, about one minute. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute. Stir with small metal whisk until all chocolate is melted.
For a glaze: Let cool to a pourable consistency, about 15-30 minutes, depending on your room's temperature. Place cake on a wire rack set on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Pour ganache over cake and allow to drip down, catching excess in the sheet. If necessary, scoop up excess and keep pouring until entire cake is covered.
It will look something like this:
For a fluffy frosting: Let mixture continue to sit at room temperature, stirring gently every half hour or so, until it reaches frosting consistency – about two hours.
It will look something like this (apologies for the hairy dude arms):
Any left overs can be used as a spread over toast (really!), or used as a sauce by microwaving on low power until it reaches a sauce-like consistency. What you pour it over at this point is your business.
Ganache will keep at room temperature for three days, two weeks in the fridge, and six months in the freezer.