What are chocolate truffles and how are they made?

14 Apr 2021

Chocolate Knowledge

Find out everything you need to know to make your own delectable chocolate truffles

Open, smell, smile. The three stages we go through everytime we delve into one of our Chocolate Truffles. Every year we Brits consume thousands of truffles, tucking into them for Christmas, Birthdays, or simply just an evening treat.

If you’re a true truffle taster, then you might start to wonder – ‘what are chocolate truffles?’. You may know the ins and outs of tastes and textures, but there’s more to a truffle than what meets the eye. We’ve taken a look at everything you need to know about chocolate truffles, including how chocolate truffles are made, so that you can whip your own batch up without having to head to the shops

What’s the difference between a truffle and a chocolate?

Hotel Chocolat Rum Selector Chocolate truffles

Avid readers of our chocolate blog don’t worry, you’re not experiencing a strong case of déjà vu. Whilst we’ve already looked at the difference between pralines and truffles, we’re yet to explore the contrasts in chocolate and a truffle.

The difference between a truffle and a chocolate can be identified in the overall taste and texture of the truffle. As you bite into a truffle it should have a soft, smooth texture which holds its shape, but is still slightly squashable (unless it has a thick coating of chocolate around it, like our Mousse au Chocolat Selector).

Chocolate, on the other hand, tends to have a more snappable texture which is achieved by tempering the chocolate. Whilst a truffle tends to be a rounded or oval shape, chocolate can come in any shape and any form.

In addition, chocolates form a great base or coating for any fancy flavours. Our Chocolate Selectors use a range of milk, dark and white chocolate chocolates to complement our wide range of flavours. Take your pick from simple caramel or praline, to award-winners such as Carrot Cake or Peanut Butter.

In contrast, truffles tend to be the main element of the treat itself. Although you can have your truffle coated in chocolate, nuts or cocoa powder, it normally doesn’t need much else for you to find it irresistible.

What are chocolate truffles made from?

Most chocolate truffles contain relatively few ingredients. In its simplest form, chocolate truffles demand two ingredients: double cream and high quality chocolate. You can also add a knob of butter for extra richness. Because not much goes into a chocolate truffle, you’ll want to use good quality chocolate.

The type of chocolate you choose completely depends on your tastes. Although a classic 70% dark is the typical option for a rich and decadent truffle, mellow 40% milk chocolate works just as well. We think our milk chocolate works especially well for those who can’t quite get on with the deeper notes of a dark, but still enjoy high cocoa flavours that aren’t too sweet.

For a light and creamy option, white chocolate works just as well. However, white chocolate has a higher sugar proportion than other chocolate grades. That means you’ll have to be more careful when you’re melting it, as it’s more likely to catch.

To make sure your white chocolate truffle is smooth and creamy, look for a white chocolate with a high cocoa butter percentage. Some brands like to use vegetable oil to set their chocolate, but we prefer to use 36% cocoa butter which has an incredible melt and sumptuously smooth finish.

How do you make chocolate truffles?

Chocolate truffles are quick and easy to make, meaning they’re perfectly suited for gifting when you want to make a homemade gift that indulges and delights, but doesn’t take all afternoon….

Step 1

Chop 200g high cocoa chocolate into small pieces. You want the chunks to be fairly small, so don’t be lazy with this step. We’ve got some tips for expertly chopping chocolate in another blog. Place into a large bowl. Next, put 200ml of double cream and 25g of butter into a saucepan and gently heat.

You want to see a good amount of steam coming off the cream before you take it off the heat, but just make sure you don’t let it boil. Then remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Leave for a few minutes and then stir. You should end up with a smooth, glossy mixture with no chocolate chunks left.

Step 2

chocolate truffles rolled in cocoa

To shape the truffles you might want to let a melon baller do the work for you. This is a mess-free way: simply scoop up miniature balls and let them rest onto greaseproof paper. A piping bag also works fairly well: just make sure you spoon the mixture into the piping bag before it has a chance to set in the bowl.

However, if you’re more of a hands-on kind of person and want to shape them by hand then you’ll need to rub a little amount of flavourless oil onto your hands. Make sure your hands are slightly cool before doing this. Then quickly rub your chocolate truffles into shape between the palms of your hands.

Make sure you don’t take too long when it comes to handling the mixture: the heat from your hand will melt the truffles somewhat, and you may end up with a very oddly shaped chocolate truffle.

Step 3

Next comes the creative part. To coat your truffles make sure you have your coatings chopped and prepped before you begin to shape your mixture – you’ll want to coat your truffles immediately after shaping.

Simply pick up your truffle, place it in the coating of your choice, and gently roll until covered. Chopped almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts add a beautiful crunch and delicate, mellow flavour. If you’d prefer an extra helping of chocolate (we don’t blame you) then melt 100g of chocolate of your choice and leave to cool slightly. Use a fork to dip your truffle into the melted mixture and place on baking paper and leave to chill.

If these are a treat for you and the family then they can stay refrigerated for up to three days in an airtight container, or frozen for up to a month. If giving as a homemade present then we suggest serving in a box, topped with a ribbon.

Who made the first chocolate truffle?

We have France to thank for this invention. Although the truth behind the inventor of the chocolate truffle remains slightly hazy, sources quote that culinary extraordinaire Auguste Escoffier accidentally made the first chocolate truffle in the 1920s.

According to the legend, Escoffier’s pastry apprentice accidentally poured hot cream into chocolate, instead of a mixture of egg and sugar for a pastry cream. Escoffier found that he could use the hardened mixture to form a lumpy sort of ball.

Why are they called truffles?

truffles on a marble surface

After rolling in cocoa powder, Escoffier realised that this chocolate mixture had a close resemblance to the luxurious truffles from the French Périgord area and the Piedmont region of Italy. This type of truffle is still an expensive item to this day – we think we’ll just stick with snacking on a chocolate truffle instead.

What flavours are chocolate truffles?

The beautiful thing about a chocolate truffle is that you can make them almost any flavour. Because chocolate is one of the main ingredients, you can use a flavoured chocolate bar to create something impressively original. Our Salted Caramel Chocolate adds a rich, indulgent taste, whilst our Dark Mint Chocolate leaves a refreshing zing in the mouth.

If you want to get creative with coatings then why not try rolling your truffles in our blend of hot chocolates? This might sound slightly strange, but we promise you it’s a million miles away from that powdery, artificial stuff you find in stores. Because we make our hot chocolate from grated flakes of the real stuff, it’s high in cocoa and boasts a range of authentic flavours, from fiery ginger to mellow hazelnut praline. 

Of course, if you can’t quite find the time to make your own truffles then don’t worry, we’ve got you. Our Chocolate Truffles taste just as good as homemade (if we do say so ourselves).