Buttercream vs Chocolate Ganache

We use both buttercream and chocolate ganache in our classes and we always get the question: Which is better? Buttercream or chocolate ganache?

In our Complete Cake Decorating Techniques Masterclass, students decide for themselves because they get to work with both.

Buttercream can be a simple mixture of whipped butter and icing sugar or made using a  slightly more complicated recipe with meringue. Both styles are super sweet and delectable and can be used to coat a sponge cake before covering the cake with fondant. When you cut the cake, you are left with a beautiful slice that has a layer of buttercream between fondant and cake – it’s all a bit yum.

Chocolate ganache is also used to coat sponge cakes before covering with fondant, but it works quite differently to buttercream. Ganache is a bit more complicated to work with, it starts to set and needs close working with Mr. Microwave.

The question is: Is buttercream better than ganache or vice versa?

The answer is: It all depends on the weather. And your taste preference. And design preference. Or your customer’s preferences.

Here is a comparison:

Buttercream

* Works well in cool weather – can be tricky to work with in hot weather

* Can be flavoured in a variety of ways

* Can be coloured in different colours, the choices are endless

* Good for achieving a slightly rounded cake edge, not suitable for square edges

* Cheaper to make than ganache

* Can be covered with light coloured fondant

* Can be made in advance and stored in fridge/freezer

* Quite sweet in taste

Chocolate Ganache

* Works well in warm weather – sets quickly

* Can be flavoured, but less so than the options available with buttercream

* Colouring ganache is limiting, not a lot of options because white chocolate is not quite white

* Not great for rounded cake edges, works wonder for square edges

* Definitely more expensive than buttercream

* Depending on the thickness of fondant, dark chocolate ganache can sometimes show through, so you need to always use thickly rolled out fondant

* Can be made in advance and stored in fridge/freezer

* Not very sweet in taste because there is no added sugar

So there you go. It really is not a clear cut choice! Some people prefer the extra moistness that buttercream provides and preserves in a cake, others prefer ganache for it is less sweet and, well, who can argue with more chocolate? Whatever you decide to go with, do practice at least once before deciding on whether you will use buttercream or ganache for a big occasion.

If you’d like to perfect sharp square edges on fondant covered cakes, ganache is the way forward. If you wish to see for yourself the difference between working with chocolate ganache and buttercream, come to our Complete Cake Decorating Techniques Masterclass. You will go home an expert!