Gourmet chocolate truffles were first created in December 1895 in France by M. Dufour in Chambery. They reached a wider public in 1902 with the establishment of the Prestat Chocolate Shop in London by Antoine Dufour.
They're named from the French term "truffe" for their resemblance to the black truffle fungus.
Fungal truffles have always been prized for their earthy, toasted flavor, but are elusive and available only to those who can either forage for them or afford them. The invention of the confectionery truffle, with its rich brown cocoa powder coating that looked like fine dark soil, offered an affordable imitation of the fungal delicacy.
The gourmet chocolate truffle is one type of gourmet chocolate candy.
They're typically made with a chocolate ganache center, coated in
chocolate or cocoa powder, with a spherical, conical, or curved shape.
Early chocolate truffles were all made with ganache, but the term is now applied to any number of small round confections.
Cream, melted chocolate, caramel, nuts, almonds, berries, or other assorted sweet fruits, nougat, fudge, toffee, mint, chocolate chips, marshmallow, and, quite often, liquor are used in place of the ganache. They can be coated with different nuts, paprika, peppercorns or simply solid chocolate. Modern chocolatiers are constantly inventing new recipes for the ever-growing truffle-adoring public.
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There are now three main types of chocolate truffles:
Swiss, European, and American.
The American truffle was created in the mid-1980s by Joseph Schmidt, a San Francisco chocolatier, and founder of Joseph Schmidt Confections. It's a half-egg shaped chocolate-coated truffle, a mixture of dark or milk chocolates with butterfat and, in some cases, hardened coconut oil.
A Canadian variation of the American truffle includes the addition of graham cracker crumbs and peanut butter and is known as the Harvey truffle.
Joseph Schmidt Confections are no longer in production. :(
The European truffle is made with syrup and a base made up
of cocoa powder, milk powder, fats, and other such ingredients to
create an oil-in-water type emulsion.
The Swiss truffle is made by combining melted chocolate with a boiling mixture of dairy cream and butter, pouring the mixture into molds to set, and then sprinkling with cocoa powder. Unlike the previous two kinds of truffles, these have a very short shelf-life and must be consumed within a few days of making.