It is believed that the chocolate truffle originated in France during the 1920’s, and quite by accident. An apprentice of culinary giant Auguste Escoffier was attempting to make a pastry cream. He accidentally poured hot cream into a bowl of chocolate instead of the bowl of sugared eggs he was supposed to pour it in. Instead of tossing the mixture, Auguste rolled the ganache into balls, and then rolled the balls in cocoa powder. Auguste thought the sweet chocolate lumps look much like the culinary fungus of the same name. Thus, the truffle was born.
“Truffle” has become a catch all for any filled chocolate, but just because it is labeled as a truffle, does not mean it is a truffle. Here are a few ways to tell the difference- Traditionally a truffle centre is remarkably smooth and creamy. If it has chunks or or pieces of candy in the filling, it is not a traditional truffle. Truffles may come in a wide variety of flavors, including hazelnut, liqueur, amaretto, fruit flavors, mint, champagne, and more. But the base of the truffle center is chocolate throughout. This is not so with other non-truffle centers, whose base can consist of a sugar syrup mixed with other ingredients, caramel, or other candy. Truffles can be enrobed in chocolate, or rolled in cocoa powder, ground nuts, or coconut. While the base of a truffle is always chocolate, there are many ways to create this base. And the kind of truffle you are used to may be determined by the region in which you live.
French Truffle- As mentioned above, a traditional French truffle is made with fresh hot cream and chocolate, and then rolled in cocoa powder. When made this way, the truffles need to be eaten within a few days.
Swiss Truffle- a Swiss truffle is made in a similar fashion as a French truffle. Melted chocolate is combined with a boiling mixture of cream and butter. It is then poured into molds and sprinkled with cocoa powder. Like the French style of truffle, these need to be consumed within a couple of day to be at their freshest.
Spanish Truffle- A traditional Spanish truffle is prepared with dark chocolate, condensed milk, and rum or other liqueur. The truffle is either enrobed in chocolate and decorated with chocolate sprinkles, or it is rolled in cocoa powder or nuts.
European Truffle- These are generally made with syrup and a base of cocoa powder, milk powder, and fats. Again, they may be enrobed in chocolate and decorated with sprinkles, or simply rolled in cocoa powder or nuts.
American Truffle- American truffles are traditionally made with a mixture of dark or milk chocolate and butterfat. It is usually a half-oval shape, and enrobed in chocolate. The chocolate coating gives this style of truffle a much longer shelf life- up to 6 months.
Lee’s Smooth Truffles- Lee’s takes a little from each of these styles. We make our truffle center by combining our quality melted dipping chocolate with cream, butter, and a variety of flavors. We then pour the mixture into large molds. Once the ganache filling has set, it is sliced into circular shapes and run through our enrobing machine. We have 6 flavors in all- Milk chocolate, milk chocolate mint, lemon *white chocolate, dark chocolate, dark chocolate orange, and dark chocolate raspberry. Each flavor of truffle at Lee’s elicits an “oh my goodness” response.
*Contrary to popular belief, white chocolate is not really chocolate at all. Rather it is a blend of sugar, cocoa butter, milk products, vanilla, and lecithin. So while we do have a lemon white chocolate truffle, because of the white chocolate center, it is not technically a truffle. But it sure is delicious!