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Truffles are well known as some of the most delectable chocolate treats available. But they are such a delicacy that they were shrouded in mystery for many years. These tempting treats are exquisite in variety of both taste and settings in which to enjoy them.
For the most basic of explanations, chocolate truffles typically are a thin shell of powdered chocolate with a soft center. They can vary widely from there, but that is a basic truffle.
The outer layer is most often covertures chocolate, which contains at least 32 percent cocoa butter. This is much higher than most eating and baking chocolate, and allows for a wonderfully smooth, shiny, even surface. This covertures chocolate is available in all varieties, including white, milk, and dark, allowing for variety in truffle coatings.
The center is called ganache, which is a mixture of chocolate and cream. The exact balance between the two determines the creaminess and texture of the center. More cream, and it’s a smoother, softer truffle center. Less cream, more chocolate, and it’s a firmer, coarser truffle.
In addition, the ganache can be flavored with a variety of items to create a new taste altogether. Some of the perennial favorites include nuts, essential extracts, and liqueurs. These add an entirely new dimension to the truffle, and allow for even more discussion as to what makes the perfect truffle.
The question that always pops up when viewing a truffle – what kind is it? Without being so gauche as to stick one’s finger in the center like a child, you can usually tell what kind of truffle is in front of you from the outer coating. The predominant flavor of the truffle usually decorates the top of the outer coating. For example, apricot truffles have a small sliver of apricot on the top. Or praline truffles have a small praline or bits of praline on the outer layer. So never again wonder what you might get when you bite in!
Historically, truffles were solely for the rich. The time and effort that goes into the making of a truffle by hand just priced them beyond the reach of many common people. Truffles therefore became known as a very special treat with dessert.
However, with the advent of many automated manufacturing processes, almost anyone can enjoy the exquisite pleasure of chocolate truffles. They serve as a wonderful centerpiece to a collection of candies on a buffet, pair delightfully with after-dinner coffee, and even freeze beautifully to take along on a picnic and thaw as the day progresses.
So next time you have a craving for chocolate, consider trying truffles. You won’t be disappointed in these delicate morsels, and will likely wonder why you didn’t have some on hand before this!
Jane S. Roseen is the Owner and President of Harmony Sweets, an international gourmet chocolate shop. Harmony Sweets' mission focuses on individual consumers purchasing gourmet chocolates from around the world for their friends and relatives, as well as corporate gift giving. Gourmet chocolate gift baskets and personalized chocolates are also available. Website: www.harmonysweets.com