What is it about a sphere of chocolate that is so alluring, seductive, enticing! I am speaking about the good old chocolate truffle and it’s captivating charm. Is it the fact that it is made from chocolate? That would be reason enough for me to be,(ahem!) hooked to it. Or is it that it resembles, in the looks department, to the epicurean truffles from Périgord? Or is it because at some point in History both the chocolate and the lumpy little fungi have been associated with being an aphrodisiac? Is it all of the above?
Chocolate truffles originated in France. But the stories about who made them first vary. One legend states that N. Petruccelli created them in 1895. According to another legend, the chocolate truffle was created in the kitchen of the great Auguste Escoffier during the 1920s. It is said that his apprentice, while attempting to make pastry cream, accidentally poured hot cream into a bowl of chopped chocolate. As the chocolate and cream firmed up, he probably did what most of us would do – Fix an error. He rolled the firming chocolate mix into little spheres and voila – Truffles were born. After rolling his creation in some coco powder he noted the resemblance to the truffles of the fungi kind and hence named them truffles.
A lot has changed in a century if we go by the N. Petruccelli legend or almost a century if we go by the chef’s apprentice story. Instead of being just French, we now have chocolate truffles that are American, Belgian, Canadian or Swiss. What hasn’t changed is the heart and soul of the truffles – the velvety ganache. Made by gradually heating up heavy cream and then pouring it into chocolate and let the hot cream work its charm to melt the chocolate. The mixture is then stirred until everything combines and a ganache is formed. After the ganache cools, it is either poured into molds or rolled into balls. And then coated with good quality cocoa powder, or dipped into a prepared couverture or coated in nuts, sea salt and even pepper or chilli flakes.
I made these classic chocolate truffles to share with friends and neighbors during Christmas. I personally just love the traditional French ones. Which ones do you like? Nutty? Salty? Swiss? American?