So a few years ago, while on a quest to learn how to eat gluten-free, my family discovered cooking classes being offered at the Whole Foods Market Bowery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Since then, we’ve taken courses about varying cuisines although my absolute favorite has been “Chocolate Truffles: Incredible Edible Gifts.”
The class, taught by Wai Chu, the Culinary Center Educator at Whole Foods Bowery, and hosted by Min Liao, the Center’s Director, was an introduction to the world of handmade truffles. Wai, a chef who at one time owned his own chocolate shop, began the class by having us taste different types of chocolates to help us understand the differences in quality, and how those differences can affect the outcome of your truffle. For example, satisfying your chocolate craving by eating grocery store chocolate chips would probably mean eating about a cup of them, while eating higher end chocolate such as Callebaut (from a Belgian manufacturer) is much more satisfying. The rich cocoa flavor of Callebaut stays with us longer and therefore, smaller bites would be all we would need–perfect for a truffle.
We made three kinds of truffles: Champagne (named for the region in France, not the drink), which are filled with cognac instead of actual champagne, Mocha Hazelnut, and White Chocolate with Dried Fruit and Nuts.
To begin making truffles, Wai demonstrated the process of melting the chocolate and creating a ganache filling by adding cream, butter and other ingredients for flavoring. We then placed the ganache in the fridge. Wai had pre-prepared some of the filling for us to form into small balls which would be later enrobed in chocolate and cocoa. The most labor-intensive process was making the little balls, though using a small ice cream scoop will speed this up. (Wai recommends a #70 size scoop!) Once the truffles were enrobed, they were put back in the fridge to harden for about 20 minutes before they could be eaten. Of the three, my favorite was hands down, the white chocolate with dried fruit and nuts (see photos).