Monday, 10 December 2007

Tips for truffle makers (part 2)

In my last post I talked about how a truffle is really a wonderfully simple way of bringing together some beautiful flavours.

You’ll have picked up that I think a truffle is as much about texture as flavour. I’ve tasted relatively few truffles that are offensive in terms of pure flavour, but its wondrously rare in this country to find a truffle that delivers texture wise.

When you’re making a truffle (or anything) think about the sensations you’re trying to create for the eater. With a truffle you’re aiming to fill the eater’s mouth with flavour, to flood it effortlessly with all that rich chocolate, cream and alcohol. The eater should not have to work at all...they should not have to chew or manipulate the truffle. It should, very literally, melt in the mouth.

The real key to all of this is freshness. A truffle eaten the day its made is incomparable to anything even a week old. If you’re making a day or two in advance then you don’t need to seal the truffle at all. Simply take your ganache balls, roll them in cocoa (for appearance and for the impact of flavour this will give you plus the slight tingling sensation you’ll get on the lips from the dust tickling them which all adds to the delight of the truffle). This is by far the best way of working.

I sometimes get resistance to this in the shop from customers who are convinced that this looks ‘amateurish’ and that moulding or dipping is somehow more professional. This is just wrong. Look at rococo, look at the chocolate society, look at any of the best French chocolate shops and that’s how they’ll serve their truffles. The only people I know who mould their truffles are Milk Tray and the like.

A truffle should never be moulded. Moulding gives you a thick chocolate shell that needs to be broken with the teeth. The only reason you see a truffle moulded is because it gives a longer shelf-life…ie the maker is putting their own convenience or profit before the experience of the eater. There’s simply no reason to do that at home.

Same with dipping.

I admit, if you are working further in advance then you can’t stick with just the cocoa. You will need to seal the ganache centre with chocolate somehow…otherwise it will go off and taste rancid. But you want to use as thin a coating of chocolate as possible to do so…otherwise the eater is going to have to chew the truffle…and then, as we’ve said, it’s not really a truffle.

Handrolling gives you the thinnest coating and after rolling in cocoa it’s my favoured option. But you will need to be able to temper chocolate (which will have to wait for a later post). Coat your hands in tempered chocolate and roll the ganache balls one at a time. Allow to dry (five minutes) and roll again to get a good seal. This is the method we usually use in the shop (because we can’t make all the truffles fresh every morning and we can’t expect our customers to eat them the day they buy them!).

Happy truffle making….

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