What is a Truffle?
There are many different things that we can do with chocolate to create different chocolate candies. Sometimes, we add homemade caramel to the middle, as in our honey caramels, our caramel five star bar, and of course, in the ever popular sea salt caramels. Sometimes, we cover nuts with chocolate. Other times it’s orange peels. But what our company started with thirty years ago, and what we built our name on is a chocolate confectioner’s tradition: the chocolate truffle.
What is a chocolate truffle?
A chocolate truffle is a chocolate candy in which the filling is made out of ganache. Ganache is a mixture of chocolate and cream, whipped together to create a smooth delicious center. In our ganache, we whip together Belgian chocolate with local butter from Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery and local cream from Monument Farms. The ganache filling can be coated with any number of items. Traditionally, it was rolled in cocoa powder, but the ganache can also be rolled in nuts, coconut, or anything else you might fancy. We coat ours in a layer of hard chocolate, and hand-decorate the tops.
Why is it called a truffle?
You may have heard of a tasty little fungus, rooted out by pigs or dogs, that is so exquisite it can sell for $400 to $600 a pound. Well that truffle bears a striking resemblance to the original, hand-rolled truffles created in Europe in the early 19th century. In fact, those confectioners named their chocolate creation after the fungus, which helped it gain an elite status, to be appreciated by nobles and the higher classes (just like the other truffle).
The History of the Truffle:
There are two competing stories here: the first is a great tale of a mistake that turned into a creation. In 1920, an apprentice for the great French Chef Auguste Escoffier was attempting to pour hot cream into a sugared egg mixture, but somehow mixed up his bowls and ended up pouring it into his broken chocolate instead. Not wanting to waste the ingredients, he waited for the result to cool a little, then rolled the chocolate and cream in cocoa powder. And so the truffle was born.
The other story goes back to when Milk Chocolate was first invented. In the Swiss Alps, Daniel Peter devoted many years to the incorporation of milk into chocolate, which was a very difficult task, since cocoa contains so much fat that it does not mix well with milk. After years of research, he was finally able to do so in 1887, and his “Gala Peter” chocolate sold across Europe, and eventually the world. It was the foundation for the Societe Generale Suisse de Chocolat, which eventually merged into Nestle-Petr-Cailler-Kohler in 1929, and is now known as Nestle. Many tried to copy his invention, and in the process, they probably poured cream over chocolate, with the result being a ganache (which, by the way, has a much shorter shelf life and a very different taste and feel from milk chocolate!) This in turn led to the truffle, which became its own delicacy. (You can read more about the history of milk chocolate here.)
Where does the chocolate truffle end and other chocolate candy begin?
This question is up for a bit of debate. Generally speaking, any sort of chocolate confection with a ganache filling would be considered a truffle, which means that our revel chocolates are also truffles, even though they are squares. American truffles have a tradition of being shaped like a half egg (as ours are) while European truffles tend to be smaller and round (like our organic truffles.) However, chocolates with cream fillings are not truffles, since they have no ganache. Therefore, our Chocolates of Vermont or the chocolate creams you can get in our selection boxes cannot be considered truffles. That doesn’t mean they’re any less delicious, however!
The joy of chocolate is that it is terribly delicious just on its own, and can be combined with so many other flavors, either by pairing or by creating new treats that it is an inexhaustible resource!