Paraphrasing Shakespeare, “A truffle by any other name, would still taste as sweet.” In this case, there’s no confusing the chocolate truffle with the rare and über-expensive mushroom that shares its name. There are, however, some who are a bit confused as to how such an indulgent confection got named for fungus hunted by pigs and dogs in the French countryside.
According to Wikipedia, the chocolate truffle is thought to have been created by N. Petrucelli in Chambéry, France, in December 1895. It reached a wider audience with the 1902 establishment of the Prestat chocolate shop in London. The shop still sells Napoleon III truffles made with the original recipe. Their name, of course, comes from the fact that they are shaped (somewhat) to look like their mushroom cousins. The word truffle is derived from the Latin word tuber, meaning swelling or lump, which later became tufer. So, there you have it (the history at least). Unlike the very rare mushroom truffles, chocolate truffles are everywhere nowadays. They’re made in huge factories, by local chocolatiers, and by restaurant pastry chefs. And, of course, they’re quite easy to make at home.
One of my pet peeves about most chocolate truffles is what came along with their mass appeal. It’s mass production, which not only compromised their quality but also their shape. The name truffle was given to this delectable sweet because it would remind one of a real truffle (the one in the ground with its imperfect, organic shape).
Most of today’s modern chocolate truffles are perfectly round spheres (albeit with a perfectly flat bottom, so they don’t roll around). And pastry chefs can even buy ready-to-stuff, pre-formed, hollow chocolate shells (which are again, factory-perfect) to make the task of making truffles almost pedestrian. Sigh…
My perfect truffle. I enjoy making truffles. Not only are they a wonderful treat, but they also make great gifts, and they’ll last forever if stored properly. Recently, I made some of my truffles for the office folks here at Nino’s, and they REALLY enjoyed them. As a matter of fact, one of them used my recipe to make a couple of batches of her own (very successfully, I might add).
As you might imagine now, my perfect truffle isn’t, well, perfect. At least its shape isn’t. It’s roundish. Once the filling is scooped (or piped with a pastry bag) and then refrigerated to firm up, my truffles are coated (we pastry folks prefer the word enrobed) with chocolate, then rolled in cocoa.
My truffles actually look like truffles. Moreover, I really enjoy the different textures and the different layers of flavor you get when the outside has a dusting of a chocolate (cocoa) that isn’t super sweet (like the inside).
In other words, there’s a lot going on. Before I share my recipe, another great thing about truffles is that you can add different flavors (or liquors) to the base recipe and make all sorts of different combinations. Also, if you’d like to add something besides cocoa to your outer crust, you only have to remember to roll it in that ingredient just after you’ve enrobed it in chocolate, so it will stick. Popular toppings include chopped nuts, shredded coconut, graham crackers, and even finely chopped dehydrated fruits, such as chopped banana chips. Yum!
My Chocolate Truffles
Makes about 4 Dozen 1” Truffles
INGREDIENTS 1 cup Heavy Cream 3 TBSP Granulated Sugar 3 TBSP Salted Butter 1 lb Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips 2 TBSP Bailey’s Cream Liqueur or Other Liquor ½ lb Chocolate Coating (Melted) As Desired Toppings of Choice
INSTRUCTIONS 1. Bring cream and sugar to a scald. 2. Stir in butter. 3. Stir in chocolate. 4. Stir in liqueur. 5. Refrigerate slightly. Then bring to room temperature. (The filling should not have ANY warmth to it.) Whip if desired to create a lighter truffle filling or leave as-is for a chewier, fudge-like filling. 6. Pipe or scoop out into a 1 inch ball-like shape. Then refrigerate until very firm. 7. Roll finished refrigerated chocolate truffles in melted coating chocolate, then in your choice of toppings while chocolate is still wet. Alternatively, allow chocolate to dry, and then roll in unsweetened cocoa. 8. Store in an air-tight container in a cool place or in your refrigerator. 9. Chocolate truffles are best enjoyed at room temperature.
Coating Your Truffles
The easiest way to coat (enrobe) your truffles is to place about a half cup of the melted (not too warm, though) coating in the bottom of a mixing bowl.
1. Drop a single truffle in the melted chocolate and roll it around with a few fingers, then move up onto the side of the bowl to remove excess coating chocolate.
2. Finally, balance the coated truffle on one finger as you carefully lift it from the bowl and place it on waxed paper or plastic film. If you’re going to coat it with a topping, immediately place the wet chocolate truffle into a second bowl with your topping of choice, and roll around until well coated.
A few words about this recipe.
• You can omit liquor and it won’t affect the recipe at all. • You MUST use coating chocolate for the outer coating (enrobing). You can purchase coating chocolate in many places. It’s used to make the chocolate suckers you see, and for molding. Craft stores, even Meijer’s, carry it. • You can use milk or dark chocolate for the filling recipe.