Truffes au chocolat

Why are these sinfully elegant and delightful chocolates called truffles? They take their name from the just as sinfully elegant black truffle, which grows under oak trees, must be uncovered by pigs or dogs and has at various moments cost more per ounce than gold. The black truffle doesn’t look like much — it’s a small black lump. The chocolate truffle, on the other hand, is lovely to behold and makes a perfect finish to holiday feasts.

Truffes au chocolat / Chocolate truffles

The black truffle, a specialty of the Perigord region of southwest France, has been prized since antiquity (for more on the subject of truffles, see the writer Martin Walker’s web site). The chocolate truffle, in contrast, has been around for just over a century, apparently invented in Chambéry, in the French Alps. There are many ways of making chocolate truffles — with or without egg yolks, with or without cream. My French friends would probably faint to hear me say this, but in fact truffles bear more than a slight resemblance to a holiday treat of my childhood — bourbon balls. The recipes are quite different, but if you would like to try for a similar effect, substitute bourbon for the cognac or rum called for in the recipe. And here’s a hint. More = better.

The Everyday French Chef will be away over the holidays, although we may make an impromptu appearance at some point between Christmas and New Year. In the meantime, I wish you the happiest holidays ever. Joyful cooking!


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