14 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons espresso, strong coffee or water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar (confectioners’, granulated or light brown)
3/4 cup heavy cream, preferably not ultrapasteurized
1 pinch coarse salt, more to taste
In a heavy saucepan, combine all ingredients and melt together over very low heat, stirring. (Alternatively, combine in a bowl and microwave at low heat for 2 minutes. Stir. Continue cooking in 30-second blasts, stirring in-between.)
Just before all the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and stir until chocolate melts and mixture comes together. It may appear curdled, but keep stirring or whisk vigorously; it will smooth out. If too thick to pour, whisk in hot water a tablespoon at a time. Taste for salt and adjust the seasoning.
When ganache is hot and pourable, it’s a classic companion to ice cream.
Warm, you can pour or pipe it over a cake, cupcakes or cookies; it will set to a soft, rich glaze.
Let it cool to room temperature and whip it in a mixer to make a fluffy frosting.
Or chill it, then roll into balls and dust with cocoa powder to make truffles.
This sauce has a slightly more adult flavor than the ice-cream-parlor standard; coffee will do that to a dessert. Leave it out if you prefer. Also note that bittersweet chocolate will deliver a stronger, sharper chocolate taste than semi-sweet.
Refrigerate leftovers in a jar; it will keep indefinitely. To rewarm, place the jar in a saucepan half-filled with simmering water, or uncover and heat in microwave at low heat.