If you have a sweet tooth, you've probably come across the phrase "chocolate truffle" either online or at your local dessert shop. You may have even tried a chocolate truffle and experienced its deliciously rich and smooth taste without knowing what the chocolatey confection was or what went into making it.
Though a chocolate truffle may seem like a bite-sized piece of chocolate, there are a few distinct differences between the sweet treats. Below, you'll find out what a truffle is, the difference between regular chocolate and chocolate truffles, typical chocolate truffle ingredients and how to make chocolate truffles at home.
What Is a Chocolate Truffle?
There are many variations and unique flavors of chocolate truffles. However, at its core, every chocolate truffle is a mixture of chocolate and cream. Chocolatiers can shape and finish truffles in different ways, such as molding them into figures, dusting them with cocoa powder, drizzling them with white chocolate, airbrushing them or garnishing them with sprinkles, nuts or chocolate shavings.
The anatomy of a chocolate truffle is quite simple — a chocolate ganache inside with a tempered chocolate coating. The chocolate ganache is a decadent filling of bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream solidified into a ball-like shape. This soft and creamy ganache filling gets dipped in tempered chocolate to give it a hard shell.
This sturdy chocolate exterior makes the chocolate truffle easier to handle and gives it a satisfying crunch before giving way to its lusciously smooth ganache center. A combination of rich, chocolatey tastes and textures creates an indulgent treat that packs a lot of luxury in a bite-sized dessert.
Why Do We Call It a Chocolate Truffle?
Traditionally, a chocolatier forms a classic chocolate truffle into a small ball before rolling it in cocoa powder to give it a rustic, slightly uneven look. This aesthetic resembles the edible fungus also known as truffles, which is how the chocolate truffle got its name. The chocolate truffle's strikingly similar look to the mushroom made "truffle" a fitting name for the chocolatey confection.
In general, "truffle" comes from a Latin word meaning "tuber," which refers to anything with a round structure or lumpy appearance.
This description applies equally well to mushroom truffles and chocolate truffles, though today's chocolate truffles often look smoother and more uniform compared to their predecessors.
Despite sharing a name, a chocolate truffle does not contain any truffles of the mushroom variety. Nevertheless, some especially adventurous chocolate manufacturers may attempt to make chocolate-covered mushrooms.
What Is the Difference Between Chocolate and a Chocolate Truffle?
Essentially, a chocolate truffle is a dessert made from chocolate. While chocolate can be a stand-alone product, a chocolate truffle can only consist of a chocolate-cream pairing to create a delicious, new bite-sized treat. Below is a more in-depth look at what separates chocolate from a chocolate truffle.
Making chocolate involves transforming cocoa beans into chocolate liquor, which is the base ingredient of a chocolate bar. This process consists of three main steps.
- Roasting the cocoa beans: First, roasting the beans develops their flavor and color. Then, the outer shell gets removed and the cocoa bean meat inside gets broken into tiny pieces known as cocoa nibs.
- Grinding the cocoa nibs: The cocoa nibs then get ground into chocolate liquor, which is the primary component of a chocolate bar. The chocolate liquor gets mixed with cocoa butter and sugar to complete the basic chocolate recipe.
- Blending the chocolate liquor and molding the chocolate: Once the chocolatier has combined the main ingredients, they refine the mixture. At this point, they'll add extra ingredients like milk or vanilla, depending on what chocolate variety they are making. Finally, the chocolatey mixture gets poured into a mold to cool and harden into chocolate as we know it.
This process produces a standard chocolate bar or chocolate chips, which can then go on to play a starring role in more complicated culinary creations. For example, chocolate can also come in small pieces filled with fun ingredients like peanuts or mint creme. These scrumptious confections of tempered chocolate and flavored fillings of various shapes and sizes can contain a broad range of flavorings.
Here are some of the most popular chocolate candy fillings:
- Fruit purees
- Peanut butter
These candies still fall under the category of chocolates, not chocolate truffles, because they are merely fillings wrapped in a chocolate coating. Instead of containing smooth chocolate ganache, these candies can be crunchy, chewy or another texture, depending on their filling.
Chocolate truffles rely on chocolate as their main ingredient and flavor provider. However, unlike regular chocolate-coated candies, chocolate truffles change the chocolate's composition by melding it with heavy cream. Blending chocolate with boiling cream results in a rich, thick mixture known as ganache, which is similar to velvety icing but not as spreadable.
Instead of containing various fillings, chocolate truffles always contain ganache, making them much smoother than most chocolate candies. Despite not having a range of fillings, chocolate truffles can still come in assorted flavors and include coatings with exciting ingredients like coconut flakes.
How to Make Chocolate Truffles
While chocolate truffles have a reputation as a gourmet delicacy, you might be surprised by how easy they are to make at home. The only two required ingredients are chocolate and heavy whipping cream. Some chocolate truffle recipes may also call for a bit of butter or corn syrup to smooth out the truffles' texture and improve their mouthfeel.
While you can use any good-quality chocolate to make truffles, the most versatile type of chocolate for truffles is a bar of semi-sweet chocolate with a cacao percentage of about 60% or so. Using a semi-sweet chocolate bar will give your truffles the intense taste of dark chocolate without being too bitter. Besides using semi-sweet chocolate, you can also flavor your ganache by mixing in additions like extracts or flavoring oils.
To make your chocolate truffles, chop up the chocolate bar, heat the heavy cream and pour it over the chocolate, then whisk the cream and chocolate together until the ingredients meld into a silky, shiny mixture called ganache. This chocolate ganache will serve as the foundation upon which you build your truffles.
Depending on whether you want a truffle with a dense chocolate base or gooey center, you will allow the ganache to set at room temperature or chill in the fridge. After giving the ganache time to set up, you can roll the truffles into small, lumpy spheres and either dip them in melted chocolate or roll them in cocoa powder, powdered sugar or another garnish like crushed nuts, candies, citrus zest or sprinkles.
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Check out the wide selection of gourmet chocolate from Bedford Candies to find your dream chocolate truffle box today!