Chocolate Truffles

A bowl of classic French truffles—rolled balls of ganache, coated in cocoa powder and chopped nuts. Truffles from






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KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.



April 2007
Last Updated May 2012

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Chocolate

Understanding Truffles & Ganache

Page 1: One Person’s Truffle Is Another Person’s Praline


This is Page 1 of a three-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.



What is a truffle? It’s different things to different people. We’re going to explain it here today. And to understand truffles, you’ve got to understand ganache—so there’s a little lesson on that, too.


The word truffle has several meanings in the world of candy. Generally, when you hear the word, you have to clarify what is being discussed. That’s because the same word can have a different meaning in different countries, and America, the great melting pot, absorbs them all. This can be confusing, as we’ll see in a moment.

  • A French invention, the original chocolate truffle was a ball of ganache (guh-NOSH), often flavored and rolled in cocoa. It was named after the precious black truffle fungus because of its physical resemblance. Sometimes the ganache was rolled in white confectioner’s sugar or finely chopped nuts instead of cocoa. Modern truffles can be rolled in pink peppercorns, sweet curry, paprika and other spices.
  • In 1912, the Belgian chocolatier Jean Neuhaus invented the first hard chocolate shell*, enabling fillings of any kind and consistency—creme, whipped cream, soft caramel, light ganache, liqueurs, etc. Previously, only solid centers like caramels and nut pastes could be enrobed in chocolate—anything else would have leaked out.
  • The invention also allowed for pretty, molded shapes: hearts, crowns, fleurs-de-lis, strawberries, butterflies, flowers, leaves, diamonds, the geometric designs in the photos at the right—plus pianos, violins, cameos, artist’s palettes and anything else that creative chocolatiers could wish for to make the consumption of chocolate even more delightful. See our review of Martine’s Chocolates for more examples.
  Chocolate Bonbons
Molded chocolates: The centers are in a hard chocolate shell. See the photo of enrobed (dipped) chocolates below. These chocolates are from Woodhouse Chocolates, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. The company also makes the dipped chocolates shown in the photo below.

Now come the layers of confusion: What’s a truffle and what’s a praline?


*To add more confusion to the confusion, this hard chocolate shell is called couverture, the same word used for the blocks of chocolate melted down to make the shell, enrobe chocolate, make chocolate bars, pastry, etc.


Continue To Page 2: Truffles Versus Pralines

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