SMS: Hazelnut Truffles

Hazelnut Truffles

My first introduction to the world of gourmet candy was the classic Lindt milk-chocolate truffle and it was love at first bite. I pulled both ends of the glossy red wrapping to reveal a humble chocolate sphere, unadorned, unexceptional, and vaguely reminiscent of the ubiquitous Hershey’s kiss. But with one taste, I realized that this sophisticated treat was in a class of its own. When the hard outer shell (also known as couverture) gave way to a silky smooth, melt-in-your-mouth, luscious center- I was pleasantly surprised to discover a novel chocolate eating experience. This heavenly confection remains one of my all time favorite sweets, but with a lack of homemade candy making knowledge and familiarity, I’ve never attempted to produce a batch of my own. So I was very pleased to discover that Annie of Living Life Foodcariously selected Hazelnut Truffles for this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe. Transforming from baker to chocolatier for a day was a delightful change of pace, and I was amazed by the ease and simplicity of the candy making process.

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A French creation, the original chocolate truffle was merely a ball of ganache, made of chocolate and cream, and often flavored and rolled in cocoa. According to legend, it was invented in the kitchen of French culinary legend Auguste Escoffier during the 1920s. One day, his stagiaire, or apprentice, attempted to make pastry cream, but he accidentally poured hot cream into a bowl of chocolate chunks rather than the intended bowl of sugared egg. As the chocolate and cream mixture emulsified and hardened, he found he could work the chocolate paste with his hands to form a bumpy, lopsided ball. After rolling the new creation in cocoa powder, he was struck by its resemblance to the luxurious mushroom truffles found in the forests of the Périgord region of France and the Piedmont area of Italy. This resemblance gave the chocolate truffle its name. Because the actual truffle was very expensive and eaten only by the royals and extremely wealthy, the shared name gave the new chocolate creation elevated status.

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Today, French chocolate truffles epitomize the finest and most luxurious candies in the world. What’s more, truffles are taken so seriously in France that an annual contest is held to judge the best from each individual region of the country. In many French chocolate production factories, the finest and freshest ingredients are reserved exclusively for making truffles. By making my own truffles, I can understand the importance of quality ingredients- especially when there are only four components to speak of.

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Chocolate. Cream. Liquor. Nuts. That’s it! And if you can chop up the chocolate, heat up the cream, combine the two, and then stir in the liquor and nuts, you can make delicious truffles too! All you need now is a little patience- 2 hours for the mixture to firm up in the fridge- but then you’re all set and ready to roll. Literally. Form that decadent ganache into balls and roll around to coat in whatever you fancy (hazelnuts were called for in this recipe, but any other nut could easily be substituted, not to mention the traditional cocoa powder, less conventional coconut, or even trendy spices) and you’re ready to open up your very own chocolate shop. Generally, the ganache used for truffle filling is made with a 2:1 ratio, two parts chocolate to one part cream, but by switching up the liquor or extract, and outer coating, the same basic recipe can be adapted to produce countless flavors and variations.

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The hazelnut truffles from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book exemplify the ultimate chocolate sweet. The textural contrast of the rich, creamy, almost velvety core and the crunchy bite of the toasty hazelnut exterior allow these truffles to dance on the tongue. They are luscious little nibbles that are sure to impress your family and friends… that is, if you decide to share! And bonus! If something happens to go awry in the kitchen, just remember, it may be the next remarkable culinary discovery of the century 🙂

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Head on over to Living Life Foodcariously for the recipe, and see what all the other SMSers did with their truffles by exploring the blogroll. Thanks Annie– what a great pick!

Joy Heart 2

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26 responses

  1. oh, thanks for the wonderful history lesson. It’s always great to know about where these wonderful things we make come from.

    I love the ones in the heart shaped plate!

  2. What a beautiful batch of truffles, Joy! I’m always excited to take on a new kitchen adventure too and these were fun to make. Thank you so much for emailing me the pupcake recipe (and the photo of your darling dog)! Eloise and are excited about making them, hopefully sometime in the next week.

  3. Congrats on your first truffle experience. I’m glad it was a great a success. You did a great job. They look very uniform and evenly coated.
    Although I didn’t make the hazelnut truffles this week, I did post a few pictures of truffles I’ve made in the past to share some ideas with other SMS-ers. Let me know what you think.

    Have a great week!

    P.S.: I baked 6 items this weekend. 5 more to go :o)

  4. *drools* your truffles look nothing short of amazing!!! and i absolutely adore your heart shaped pan(?). I just let my UPS guy sample his choice of flavors and he came back in a second time to remind me how yummy he thought they were. Everyone here in the office LOVES them. So I’m rather pleased.

    I always learn something new when reading your blog. It makes me want to throw together two oddball things, say a little prayer over it, and make something completely new! Alas, I am just beginning on my baking journey and I still have lots to learn.

    I will most definitely try to bake along with you this week. I already have my TWD baked and ready for pictures so I have the entire week to gather supplies and ideas. I MIGHT need to get the recipe from you BUT I should be receiving my books this week (eek!) Its lovely to hear from you, I hope you are doing well 🙂

  5. Very interesting! I never knew the term “couverture,” thank you for the mini truffle lesson! I only wish I had some truffles to eat along with you as I read this… Oh wait I still have some left! Perfecttttt!!! 🙂

    Yours look terrific!! These put those lindt ballies to shame!

  6. Unlike some of the other recipies that you have made, truffles were pretty familiar to me. I too, tried truffles first with you a few years ago, and fell in love with the wonderful taste and texture. Yours however, transcend even the “other” best I have tried. They are a real WOW!! I can’t wait to try some other flavors. I had no idea when you joined this blog, that I would be the beneficiary of such wonderful treats.
    I love you!!
    Mommy

  7. Joy-
    Those truffles look fantastic! They look professional! Makes me want to make some!!
    I have to tell you, for someone who kept telling me she didn’t know if and how to do this “blogging” thing… you are already FAR better at it than me! Good job!

    Oh and have you check bakinggals site??? 🙂

  8. Joy- what beautiful pictures! I loved reading your post this week because as I was rolling the truffles, I was imagining all the reasons why chocolate truffles and truffles of the mushroom variety may share the same name. I came up with the fact that they were French and shared a vague resemblence to each other. I couldn’t imagine it was because they had to use pigs to find chocolate in the forest!

  9. Hi Joy, so sweet of you to pop over to my blog and say hi! Love your truffles and that heart plate is too cute. I was so disappointed to miss the truffle week as my book was soooooo late in arriving (only got to me this morning – booooo). I even had the perfect recipient of the truffles! That, and I’m dying to see what happens when you infuse the cream with, say, cardamom… Crazy? Maybe… But very excited about banana apple bread – yum!

    Wonderful blog and very much looking forward to being part of the SMS crew! Rosy x

  10. i’d love to pop one of those in my mouth– yum! btw, i responded to your comment on my blog already, but that blue box thingie i have around my ingredient lists…i don’t know how its done. it was included in the custom blog design i purchased last year, and i don’t know enough about custom coding to know what’s going on there. sorry, joy!

  11. The truffles looked absolutely yummie….I am looking for some samples.

    Keep up the wonderful baking…..maybe we can swap some recipies.

    -Maggie

  12. guess what i found at randalls while running errands for my fiance’s grandma…. hazelnuts. they were chopped but i could have used those BEFORE this was due lol. just my luck!

    ps. i hope you feel better soon 🙂

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