Bernadette Gee is the woman behind the Magnolia Kitchen Empire which includes the Magnolia Sweet Kitchen Café and Magnolia Kitchen Boutique in New Zealand, an online store, a 215K Instagram following and two cookbooks, the first of which was a best seller before it even hit shelves.
A self-taught baker and artist, Bernadette started Magnolia kitchen out of a love of baking, cake decorating and all things sweet, old fashioned and vintage. Her second book, Magnolia Kitchen Design focuses on the design element of her cakes, teaching you how to bake with artistic intent. Through step-by-step tutorials, Bernadette teaches you how to create the show stopping art-piece cakes she makes. She starts by sharing her tips including notes on cooking times, prepping pans, making cakes ahead of time, shelf life and ingredient tips. Next up is a guide of the tools she uses that could be mixed up with an artist’s toolkit. The majority of the book is dedicated to step-by-step tutorials of cake decorating, from her whimsical drawings to creating them on cakes. You learn how to use flowers as cake toppers, create a water-color look cake, make textured ganache, and get those sharp edges she does. The final section is filled with recipes – from frostings and ganaches to layer cakes and tarts.
More than being a visual feast for your eyes, Magnolia Kitchen Design feels like walking through an art gallery. To say her cakes are exquisite is an understatement. It’s a cookbook that could be a coffee table book – it’s just nice to look at. It is more of a niche cookbook, tailored very much to those who want to learn to make the type of cakes you’d have at a wedding or party. I have my eyes on a couple of recipes (the sticky date caramel cake looks heavenly!) and plan on getting a little extra when it comes to making birthday cakes this year.
The recipe I’m sharing is her recipe for white chocolate ganache. A basic recipe that’s good to have and that you can adapt as you wish. Ganache is her go-to icing, what she uses to ‘make shit sharp’. She uses it instead of fondant which I too am not a fan of – I’d much rather eat chocolate. It’s spreadable at room temperature and according to Bernadette is the best for painting on. The key to the recipe is her ratios. The ones given below are perfect for icing cake. Her recipe in the book yields 1.5kg ganache which is far more than I would need, so instead of using her amounts I followed her ratio 1:4 of cream:chocolate, making just enough to top a dozen espresso cupcakes (espresso and white chocolate is a magical combination). The number one rule to follow when making ganache is that you have to use REAL chocolate (not that baking chocolate) and the best quality you can get.
The 1:4 ratio is ideal for covering a cake. For a glaze, use a 1:1 ratio and for a cake filling or piping use a 1:2 ratio.
You would be able to use the same ratio to make a milk chocolate or dark chocolate ganache. If you are making a dark chocolate ganache and want it to be dairy free, I have had success using Orley Whip instead of cream in the same ratio. Rice milk also works in a pinch, but won’t give you the same creamy thickness.
The recipe below is based on making enough ganache to cover 12 cupcakes or frost double layer 20cm cake in a “naked” style of frosting. The white chocolate ganache recipe from Magnolia Kitchen Design uses 300g cream and 1200g white chocolate to yield 1.5kg white chocolate ganache. The method is the same.
How to Make Magnolia Kitchen’s White Chocolate Ganache
- 50 grams cream
- 200 grams white chocolate chopped
- Heat the cream in a pot on your stovetop until it starts to bubble around the edges of the pot. Try not to let it boil, as it will burn in seconds.
- While the cream is heating, put your chocolate in a heatproof (preferably microwave safe) bowl. When the cream is ready, remove it from the heat and pour directly over the chocolate.
- Allow it to rest for approx. 5 minutes. This will allow the cream to melt the chocolate. Use a spatula to stir together until your ganache resembles a smooth, silky, luscious, chocolatey delight that you could dive into.
- Store the ganache in a bowl or an airtight container at room temperature until you are ready to use it. Always cover it with a plastic wrap pushed flat onto the top of the ganache, as this will stop a crusty, crystalized skin forming that can make the ganache taste gritty. Allow it to set for 4 hours at room temperature or overnight before using.
- When it is time to use the ganache, heat it gently in the microwave in bursts: 1 minute then stir, 40 seconds then stir, 20 seconds then stir, then repeat the 20 second bursts until the ganache is a spreadable consistency.
Magnolia Kitchen Design was given to us by Jonathan Ball Publishers and is available here. Jonathan Ball Publishers nor the author approved or reviewed this piece prior to publication. Opinions and images are our own. Recipe is reprinted with permission.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.