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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wanted: Truffle Teacher

I ventured into the world of chocolate truffle making the other night, with mixed results. The truffles TASTE great, but are far from culinarily artistic perfection. I thought today I’d share what I did along with my questions, hoping you can teach me the right way to do this!

Want the job as Truffle Teacher? All you have to do is post a comment! I’m mostly concerned with technique, but of course if you have a good recipe please share that as well!

For reference, THIS (click here) is the recipe I primarily used (although I referenced a few others as well).

Okay, the Truffle 101 Discussion Group is now beginning.

Jane Observations:
– When they say finely chop the chocolate, they mean FINELY chop the chocolate. I just had a few small pieces here and there (see pic), but they were just too big to melt in the heated cream.

– You can store your finished truffles in the fridge for weeks, but eat them at room temp – so much better when they are nice and soft.

Jane’s Questions:
– I wanted to do some hazelnut-flavored truffles. I split the recipe in half and added ~1 1/2 tsp of hazelnut oil, but you honestly cannot tell that they were flavored. Has anyone used hazelnut oil in a similar situation? How much should I use?

– When should you form your truffle balls? One recipe said to leave the mixture out for 1 hour then make the balls. I did that – the chocolate was still so soft it was nearly impossible to work with. Another recipe said to refrigerate for 1 hour then make the balls…so I put the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes. When I tried to make the truffles I actually BROKE the melon baller the chocolate was so hard. It was the biggest pain making the balls (which is why mine look so lumpy). What technique do you suggest? Do you use a melon baller, fingers, two spoons? HELP!

– What is your favorite flavoring and in what quantities should they go into the recipe?

I THINK that was all the questions/troubles I had. Seriously, if you’ve made truffles and they came out, tell us what you did!

Even though my truffles don’t LOOK as pretty as I would have liked…it’s not stopping us from eating them! 🙂


  1. 1

    Sorry..No advice from me:) Just wanted to say THANK YOU for the delicious and beautifully packaged truffles. They lasted all of 5 minutes in my house:) They were so, so yummy! Thanks Jane!

  2. 2

    jane?? i thought we talked about this.half 78% cocoa..the other half semi-sweet,maybe its your air in la jolla. i’ll forward you my recipe once i whip it up (meaning..figuring out the link system) but shouldn’t cry about it. they were yummy and the sugar gave it a nice texture. did you put any coffee granules in with the cream??

  3. 3
    Mom and Dad

    My recipe:
    1/4 c heavy cream
    2 Tbs unsalted butter
    6 oz chocolate (I find if you try white or milk, the mixture is too soft; but haven’t figured out how much more chocolate to add, I just freeze it longer!)
    1/4 tsp vanilla (I also like a couple of drops mint oil)
    I’ve never had a problem melting the chocolate.

    My recipe says to freeze for 20 minutes…
    I have lots of methods. I sometimes drop the spoonful of mixture immediately into the topping.
    Another thing is to roll the truffles and then put them back into the fridge for a few minutes and then roll them again so the shape is rounder.
    If it’s too hard, let them sit on the counter a minute or two and try again.
    (I’m a mathematician who doesn’t do anything precisely)

  4. 4

    Pampered Chef makes a tiny ice cream scoop I use for cookies and truffles, etc. Perfect size. Works.

    Your truffles are pretty.

  5. 5

    You need to fly Dottie L. out to be your teacher; she’s your gal!! She makes AMAZING candy!!!

  6. 6

    simple… 200g of the best quality dark choc you can get. I prefer Lindt. 1/3 cup thick cream (i mean thick) splash of vanilla extract (its different from essence) and enough cocoa powder to coat them (about 1/4 cup.)

    Combine choc and cream, melt in the microwave (yes the microwave!!!!) on 50% power for 2-3 min, stirring every minute until all melted and smooth. steal a taste. Add vanilla. taste again. what a difference that vanilla makes. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until firm (3-4 hours). Line a tray with baking paper. Roll 2 tsp into balls (your warm hands should make the mix workable)roll balls in cocoa and refrigerate again until firm.

  7. 7

    Hey Jane… So I got your blog from Anne and was reading about making the truffles into balls and decided to share my technique, because when it comes to chocolate, that is the one thing I know. But… forwarning I am a total novice at the whole cooking thing. When I make truffles I use two spoons to form the ball and I do it when the chocolate is still soft. Scoop up some in one spoon and then use the other to scrape it out onto the open part of that spoon and then scrape back to the first. Do this a couple times til it is in the form of a ball and then use the back of the other spoon to scrape it onto the cooling rack. I hope that makes sense… just play around with the spoons. I kinda spin them in my hands and stuff, but it works great for truffles.

  8. I know this is an old post, but I was inspired. As a culinary instructor I get asked these questions all of the time. Not about truffles per se, but any and everything imaginable. “What’s the best way. . . How do you. . .???”.

    My answer is always the same. Taste and test. I teach a class called “Learn to Cook”, (and no I’m not trying to plug the class, so sorry if this is starting to look like spam. I actually have a point) because I have found that most people really don’t know how. Even those who are respected amongst their family and friends as someone who turns out fantastic dishes and perfect holiday meals, usually don’t have a clue. How is that possible? Directions. They are good at following directions – which is an important skill, but unfortunately the cooking mags, books, and TV shows usually teach nothing more than step-by-step instructions. Now I’m not saying that you don’t know how to cook, so let me elaborate.

    When was the last time you saw an “Iron Chef” (and no I’m not plugging the Food Network either) measure an ingredient or set a timer? They don’t because these tools are unreliable and give us a false sense of security in the kitchen. If a recipe says to bake your chicken for 45 minutes at 375 degrees, a lot of assumptions are being made. You would need to assume that the author knows the precise temperature of YOUR oven, (is it actually 375 when it says it is?) the exact temperature of the chicken before you begin baking it, the material that your baking dish is made of, the proximity of each chicken piece in relation to each other, the size of the chicken breasts, strips or pieces, how many times you open the oven door throughout the cooking process, if you are using a conventional or convection oven. . . you get the idea. Even the altitude factors as a variable when it comes to doing things like boiling water, baking, and working with certain ingredients – and surely the recipe author doesn’t know where we are located. The instructions SHOULD say, “Bake chicken at 375 until done”. Not to mention, aren’t all of the chicken pieces various degrees of thickness? When one piece is cooked all of the way through can we assume they all are? Of course not.

    So in short, never walk away. Keep tasting and testing. Well, don’t taste your undercooked chicken, but put a thermometer in it and check its temperature periodically. You add as much extract to your truffle mixture as you need to. Keep tasting it. When it tastes good, it’s done. Chill it as long as you need to. Give it 5 minutes then try to make a ball. If it’s still too soft, put it back in for another 5. Everyone’s refrigerator is a different temperature, so there is no “exact” time. Try a spoon, a baller, or retail “truffle gadget”, and see what works best. It shouldn’t take but a couple of tries to get a dish perfect.

    Some dishes however, aren’t worth modifying. If the first one comes out less than mediocre, then trash it and move on. Spend your time on the dishes that have enough integrity to keep you motivated to push them to new heights.

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