When you think about chocolate truffles, you’d imagine these little dark chocolate morsels that are shaped into perfectly round balls. However, aside from that, you probably know nothing else about this popular French chocolate confection. Chocolate truffles are often considered by many chocolate connoisseurs as the crème de la crème of the chocolate world, but what makes them so?
Let’s dive in with the facts and trivia of this high-end sweet treat and see what makes chocolate truffles so special.
History of Chocolate Truffles
The invention of the chocolate truffle can be attributed to two famous French bakers: Louis Dufour and Auguste Escoffier.
Louis Dufour came up with his chocolate truffle creation on Christmas Day of 1895 in Chambray, France. His dilemma was that he ran out of ideas for Christmas treats that he could make to sell to his clients. He decided to try something new and made up a batch of chocolate ganache. He then shaped the ganache into balls, dipped them in melted chocolate and proceeded to roll the chocolate-covered ganache balls in cocoa powder.
In 1902, Antoine Dufour (whose exact relation to Louis Dufour is still clouded in mystery) immigrated to England and brought his family’s truffle recipe to London. He used his family’s recipe in his newly opened Prestat Chocolate Shop.
In Auguste Escoffier’s story, it was his apprentice who accidentally made chocolate ganache. The apprentice forgot to add hot cream into a bowl of beaten eggs and sugar. Instead, he poured cream into a bowl filled with chunks of chocolate. When the chocolate hardened, he rolled it into a ball, and then rolled the ball in cocoa powder. This story took place around the 1920’s.
No matter which chocolate truffle tale you believe in, one thing’s for certain. Both patissiers believed that their chocolate creation looked like a wild mushroom, thus the “truffle” in the name was used.
Popularity of Chocolate
Back when chocolate truffles were still new to the world, the cost of creating these morsels was quite expensive. Importing cocoa beans wasn’t cheap, so these chocolate treats were only reserved for the wealthy. As chocolate became less expensive, making chocolate truffles became a more accessible luxury. However, to this day, there are many high-end chocolate truffles that are sold at a high price.
What makes chocolate truffles expensive is largely due to their ingredients. If you want to taste exquisite chocolate truffles, you have to be willing to pay for the high-quality ingredients they use to make the product. Though the price of chocolate truffles may shock a few people, they’re still some of the most popular chocolate confectionaries in the world. The reason behind this phenomena could be that chocolate truffles exhibit a distinctive rich and decadent texture, and there’s no limit as to what flavor they should be.
Individuals who seek traditionally flavored chocolate truffles prefer their chocolates made in France. The ganache has to be made from high-quality chocolate and cream, which is then rolled in fine cocoa powder.
As for free-form chocolate truffle lovers, the sky’s the limit to their preferred flavors and shapes. Their chocolate truffles could be rolled in confectionary sugar and nuts, and they could even be filled with a shot of brandy.
What you didn’t know about Chocolate Truffles
Here are four fun facts you probably didn’t know about chocolate truffles:
Fact # 1
Traditional French chocolate truffles have a short shelf-life. They last two weeks at most.
Fact # 2
The most expensive chocolate truffle in the world is Knipschildt Chocolatier’s Madeline truffle. It’s priced at $250. The French Perigord truffle is crafted from 71% single-bean Ecuadorian dark chocolate. It weighs about 1.5 oz.
Fact # 3
Although the creation of the chocolate truffle originated from France, today’s chocolate truffles come in numerous varieties.
- Belgian truffle (a.k.a. praline) – made with milk or dark chocolate that’s filled with ganache, buttercream or nut pastes.
- Swiss truffle – Combines melted chocolate into a boiling mixture of dairy cream and butter. The mixture is poured into molds to set before sprinkling with cocoa powder. Swiss truffles also have a short shelf-life.
- European truffle – The base is made up of cocoa powder, milk powder, fats and other similar ingredients to create an oil-in-water type emulsion. Syrup is also added in European truffles.
- American truffle – A half-egg shaped chocolate-coated truffle. It’s a mixture of dark or milk chocolates with butterfat or, in some cases, hardened coconut oil. The creation of the American truffle is credited to Joseph Schmidt, founder of Joseph Schmidt Confections.
- Californian truffle – A larger and lumpier version of the French truffle. It was first made by Alice Medrich in 1973 after she tasted truffles in France. She started selling these larger truffles in 1977 in her own store, Cocolat. When her store expanded into a chain, Americans from all over the country were able to get a taste of this exquisite treat. The chocolate truffle craze in America started with Medrich.
- Vegan truffle – This kind of truffle can take any shape or form, so long as it adapts to the vegan diet.
Fact # 4
May 2nd is recognized as National Truffle day. This day is celebrated by eating lots of chocolate truffles.
How to Make Basic Chocolate Truffles
- 8 oz. of well-chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (high quality, 62% cacao or higher)
- ½ cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Cocoa power
Step 1: Bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer in a small, heavy saucepan. Be sure to stir and scrape down the sides with a spatula every few minutes.
Step 2: To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a separate bowl and pour the cream over the chocolate. Add the vanilla and allow it to stand for a few minutes. Stir until smooth.
Step 3: Cool the mixture and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Step 4: Use a teaspoon and scoop out balls of ganache to roll in your hands. Roll the balls quickly to prevent them from melting in your hands. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place the sheet in the refrigerator overnight.
Step 5: Take the ganache balls out of the refrigerator and roll them in cocoa powder.
If you plan to add other flavorings in your truffle recipe, add them with the cream and ignore the vanilla extract. If you’re adding mint or other solids, remove the cream from the heat and let the flavors seep for an hour. After that, strain away the solid flavorings and return the cream to a simmer. For more texture, you can roll the ganache balls in chopped nuts or fruit.
Chocolate truffles are unlike any other chocolate treats. Their rich and decadent flavors will have anyone craving for more. Though traditional chocolate truffles are made with simple, quality ingredients, many of today’s chocolate truffles offer a tangy or nutty surprise. Because of the chocolate truffle’s limitless possibilities, this sweet will continue to be one of the world’s popular chocolate confections.