Cocoa 101: What are Truffles? Q&A
Expanded from Vol. 1, Issue 1 of the Cocoa Communique: The Queer Chocolatier Newsletter.
Question: What are "Truffles"?
Answer: Truffles are chocolate confections that, at their most basic, are made with chocolate, cream and butter, and are finished by either rolling in cocoa powder or dipping in tempered chocolate. Using these ingredients as a canvas, rainbows of flavors are also incorporated to make each truffle a unique experience.
Question: Okay, sounds great, but why "truffles"?
Answer: Folx back in the day thought these confections looked a great deal similar to the highly-prized black truffle mushrooms due to the dusting of cocoa powder that resembled dirt. The name has stuck ever since.
Question: Wait, so truffles look like mushrooms, but do they have mushrooms in them?
Answer: **shudder** I sincerely hope not. But we live in the Age of The Internet and there are dark corners of the world that would make such things manifest.
Truly though, the name really just reflects on the general appearance and their highly-desirable nature.
Question: Are truffles supposed to be perfectly round? Do perfectly round truffles mean that they are better quality?
Answer: Not necessarily. Going from the original inspiration from the name, there are few perfectly round black truffle mushrooms that naturally grow, so it stands to reason that a slightly asymmetrical appearance is completely acceptable, and sometimes is even more desired than a perfect sphere as to demonstrate the handmade aesthetic.
Quality, in and of itself, is not going to be determined by a sole factor of shape symmetry. Instead, quality will be a confluence of many factors such as: sourced chocolate, freshness of dairy (or non-dairy) items, and ratio of flavoring elements among others including shape.
Question: Good, so is there any real difference between the cocoa dusted truffles and the dipped-in-chocolate truffles?
Answer: The only difference here is the style of the chocolatier and your own personal preference. Ultimately, the confection is still the same: a chocolate ganache that may or may not be flavored beyond simply the base chocolate.
My personal preference is the cocoa-rolled truffles but this might only be because they were the first ones I started with and are the ones I'm most familiar with. Trust me when I say I'll never kick a good chocolate truffle out of bed if it is dipped in tempered chocolate rather than dusted with cocoa. Have you seen my "volumptuous" figure?
I hope this quick Cocoa 101 was illuminating on how horrible I am at hula hooping and I will pay in truffles if someone can teach me how to do a better job of it.