I'm thinking of making a cake with this for my dad's bday this week.
1) Can I buy the chocolate at the regular grocery store, or do I need to go to a specialty store?
2) What type or brand is best?
3) Can I make the cake and ganache it a day ahead of time, and if so, then do I refrigerate?
4) Please give me any and all tips you may have!
According to the directions in the cookbook-The Cake Bible, dark chocolate ganache can be kept 3 days room temperature, 2 weeks refrigerated, 6 months frozen. My experience is it can be kept until family members arrive in the kitchen with spoons.
I buy the chocolate in my grocery store, but they carry quality brands like lindz etc.
Everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate ganache:
(Overview, master and other recipes, including white chocolate. How to glaze, smooth and stack and more.)
Jan's links are excellent, I highly recommend you read thru them! I'll add an answer too though, even thugh funcakes already summed it up too.
1-definitely can buy it at the grocery store, even CVS/Walgreen type stores carry quality chocolate, sometimes on sale. Yeah! Check for sales, otherwise it should run you about $1/oz (3.5oz bar is usually $2.99 to $3.50 where I shop)
2-personally I prefer 70% dark chocolate but then again I am a chocolate nut. Which type depends on your taste; IMHO the higher % lends the most sophisticated taste. Many use semisweet (60% better than 56% cuz it tastes less like a chocolate chip) but Milk Chocolate ganache is supposed to be amazing too (melysa has posted a recipe in the link JanH provided...melysa likens it to chocolate mousse). I agree, Lindt is great and I use it often. Even Ghiradelli is good. Scharffen-Berger is top notch but so expensive I don't think it's worth it. Love Vahlrona. Do use a good brand!
3-you can easily make it a day ahead. Refrigeration is ok if you prefer, but leaving it out is just fine as funcakes mentioned, presuming you have no perishable fillings. If you leave it out, beware the smell of chocolate in your kitchen may intoxicate you.
4-JanH answered this one! But I'll add: if you're using it as a filling too, I recommend whipping it to add volume. Great tips on the b*aking 911 website, you cannot link to them directly from CC but if you paste this into your browser, and then DELETE THE ASTERISKS you'll find tons of useful info. w*ww.b*aking*911.com/chocolate/ganache_truffles.htm