”“Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands and then eat just one of those pieces” – Judith Viorst”
That sensuous feeling when chocolate melts as soon as it touches your palate can be called a perfect truffle. With that in mind I set out on my journey to recreate this exquisite work of art that owes its inception to the foremost chocolatiers of the world. Small in size, yet big on flavors and even more magnanimous on the effects they leave behind, truffles require strength of character; strength to limit yourself to just one or two pieces. My love affair with truffles began a couple of years ago while in Switzerland. Along with my sister, we visited the Lindt and Sprungli shop and basked in the aromas that enveloped the outlet. Choosing these small bites of heaven was a task made more arduous by the variety at hand. After 15 minutes of going back and forth we settled for an assortment. Each truffle had its own identity and each oozing flavor; my pick of the lot were the Champagne truffles and the Bailey’s truffles. The taste is still etched in the memory of my palate.
Truffles owe their creation to Antoine Dufor, who perfected his recipe in 1895 in Chamberey, France. He created the first cocoa-dusted truffle, named Napolean III, which can still be found at the Prestat Chocolate shop in London. Taking the basic truffle as my inspiration, I went on to experiment with various ingredients till I could perfect my own variant of a truffle. To add a twist to the plain chocolate truffle I enhanced the flavors by adding an infusion of sencha tea and fresh mint. The reason for using Sencha tea leaves was due to their strong flavors, which came through in truffle. Fresh mint was used to bind the flavors of the chocolate and tea. It helped to create a subtle mint flavor in the truffles. Finally, I added some cocoa pops for an extra crunch, but if you want you could do without them. All that is essential is that the truffle is smooth and silky.
- 250g dark chocolate (good quality)
- 200ml fresh cream
- 100ml water
- 85g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/4 tsp sencha tea leaves
- Mint leaves
- Cocoa pops (optional)
- Melt the chocolate in a pan over boiling water
- Once melted, add the butter and mix using a hand whisk
- As the mixture smoothens, slowly add the cream while whisking lightly. As the mixture turns into a silky consistency, cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes
- Meanwhile, add the mint leaves and sencha tea leaves to water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes on low heat for the flavors to infuse. Strain the liquid and discard the tea and mint leaves
- Slowly pour the tea infusion into the chocolate mixture while stirring. Add cocoa pops at this stage if need be
- Pour the mixture into chocolate molds. If unavailable, line your ice-tray with cling film and pour the mixture into the ice tray cubes
- Place in the freezer for about two hours till they are set. Remove from the mold and smoothen the edges using a knife
- Serve immediately. If not serving then keep in the freezer as they tend to melt very quickly.
This was a birthday surprise for my husband; instead of cake this year I decided to celebrate with truffles and lets just say the words of wisdom above were not followed. The key to a good truffle lies in the quality of chocolate used, hence it is fundamental to be successful in truffle making to use a good quality chocolate. As the truffle melted, we could taste the flavors of the chocolate, sencha tea and mint. It was an ideal combination of ingredients that were poles apart. The best part about this recipe is that you can use it as a base and then experiment with any other flavors/ingredients of your choice. Dust them with cocoa or roll them in crushed pistachios, the truffle can be your playground. The downside however, you will not be able to have just one.