Chocolate Truffles: My newest culinary obsession

Living in NYC, there are many options when it comes to taking cooking classes. As a child, my mom, sister and I went to classes where we made cookies, cakes and gingerbread houses. As a young adult, I attended week-long teen cooking classes during my summer vacations. At home, my mother taught me all the rest. But as I’ve grown and learned about eating well, my desire to learn more about cooking has changed and broadened. Continuing the “college diet” of pizza, late night fries and mac and cheese seemed a little unnatural when I graduated and suddenly had access to a full size kitchen rather than the mini fridge and microwave that doubled as a TV stand in my dorm room.

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.

White Chocolate Truffle Filling

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).

What I loved so much about this class (and all the Whole Foods classes) is that they are very small and intimate. There are no pre-requisites for taking their classes, and everyone is there because they love food and want to learn more about it. If you’d like to find out more about the classes you can take at Whole Foods Bowery, or in your area (they have them all over the US!), check out their website. Wai is even going to teach a kids truffle making class!

For the holidays, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day, chocolate truffles make excellent gifts. I know that this year, I will be testing all different kinds, so stay on the lookout for more truffle recipes and how-tos.

What kinds of truffles do you like to eat or make?

Note: In the coming months, you’ll be seeing some updates to the blog with restaurant suggestions, cake decorating tips and ideas and more easy and inexpensive GF recipes using ingredients you already have! No need to buy pre-packaged GF meals at the store; there’s a world of home cooking that lies beyond your freezer—and dorm room microwave!
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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Chocolate Truffles: My newest culinary obsession

  1. They look great!! mmmhh…yummy!!

  2. Mmmmmm. Truffles. And ALL THINGS CHOCOLATE! I like chocolate truffles (dark or semi-sweet) filled with chocolate ganache. Chocolate on chocolate!

    No wonder my husband’s nickname for me is “Piggie”. I LUVS me some truffles!

  3. droollllll….. Thanks for sharing so much info on truffles! how did you get the cognac in those champagne truffles??

    • Emily

      After the chocolate mixture has been made with the cream, butter and corn syrup, you add two tablespoons of cognac. The same applies to any kind of liquor you might want to add. If you’d like, I can send you the recipe, though I hope to put up a post soon about other truffles with recipes included.

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