A chocolate truffle is a type of chocolate confectionery, traditionally made with a chocolate ganache centre coated in chocolate, cocoa powder or chopped toasted nuts (typically hazelnuts, almonds or coconut), usually in a spherical, conical, or curved shape.
Their name derives from their traditional shape, which resembles the truffle, an edible part of the tuber fungus.
The chocolate truffle is thought to have been first created by N. Petrucelli in Chambéry, France in December 1895. They reached a wider public with the establishment of the Prestat chocolate shop in London by Antoine Dufour in 1902, which still sells "Napoleon III" truffles to the original recipe. There are now three main types of chocolate truffles: European, Swiss, and American:
- The "French truffle" is made with fresh cream and chocolate and then rolled into cocoa or nut powder.
- The "Belgian truffle" or praline is made with dark or milk chocolate filled with ganache, buttercream or nut pastes.
- The "Swiss truffle" is made by combining melted chocolate into a boiling mixture of dairy cream and butter, which is poured into molds to set before sprinkling with cocoa powder. Like the French truffles, these have a very short shelf-life and must be consumed within a few days of making.
- The "California truffle" is a larger, lumpier version of the French truffle, first made by Alice Medrich in 1973 after she tasted truffles in France. She sold these larger truffles in a charcuterie in the "Gourmet Ghetto" neighborhood of Berkeley, then in 1977 she began selling them in her own store, Cocolat, which soon expanded into a chain. The American craze for truffles started with Medrich.
- The "American truffle" is a half-egg shaped chocolate-coated truffle, a mixture of dark or milk chocolates with butterfat and, in some cases, hardened coconut oil. Joseph Schmidt, a San Francisco chocolatier, and founder of Joseph Schmidt Confections, is credited with its creation in the mid-1980s.
- The "European truffle" is made with syrup and a base made up of cocoa powder, milk powder, fats, and other such ingredients to create an oil-in-water type emulsion.
- The "vegan truffle" can have any shape or flavor, but is adapted to vegan diets by replacing dairy with nut milks and butters.