Few words in the English language bring to mind the embodiment of decadence quite like the mere mention of one ridiculously indulgent morsel: “truffles.” With so much deliciousness packed into a single bite (or maybe two), it seems fitting that these small yet scrumptious sweets have earned their very own special occasion. As we approach May 2nd, aka “National Truffle Day,” there’s no better time to learn a bit more about these nosh-worthy nibbles.
A Brief History of the Truffle
As is the case with many beloved contemporary foods with rich histories, encapsulating the early existence of the truffle into a tidy account is not as easy as you might think. Why not? Because not one but two patissiers lay claim to having created the divine concoction. What’s not surprising? That both would-be truffle inventors are of French origin, considering the legendary baking supremacy of the French.
Part of a highly-regarded family of French bakers, Louis Dufour lays claims to having originated the truffle in 1895 while looking for something special to serve to his customers on Christmas Day. When his relative Antoine Dufour immigrated to England and opened the Pestat Chocolate Shop seven years later, he brought along the famed recipe, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Or not, according to historians who hold with a different version of how chocolate truffles were invented. According to this account, an apprentice of famed French chef Auguste Escoffier happened upon the truffle when he mistakenly poured hot cream into a bowl of chocolate chunks. The result? A paste known as ganache. He then rolled it into a ball, dusted it in cocoa powder, and voila! From this happy accident sprang forth the truffle we know and love today.
The only problem with this version? Escoffier’s apprentice didn’t accidentally “discover” ganache until the 1920s, when sources in both France and Switzerland trace this cream-chocolate concoction back to the 1850s. In other words, the existence of ganache predated this particular discovery.
If you’re wondering how these mouthwatering morsels got their name, meanwhile, experts agree: the inspiration was appearance, not taste. The original truffles greatly resembled black truffle fungus and so their name was born.
The Truffle Today
Truffle purists maintain that truffles must by nature contain a ganache filling encased in chocolate. However, with the passage of time and through cultural co-opting, truffles have come to mean different things to different people. In fact, many people now interpret any kind of filled chocolate — ganache or otherwise — to qualify as a truffle.
Semantics aside, chocolatiers are inclined to let their imaginations run wild when it comes to truffles today with fillings including everything from lemon and toasted coconut to marshmallows and graham crackers to caramel and Mediterranean sea salt. Not to mention cardamom whisky almond, raspberry lychee, and sesame vanilla, to name just a few.
But it doesn’t end there. Bakers have also applied the truffle concept to many different kinds of desserts — including everything from chocolate truffle cake to chocolate truffle sorbet.
We can’t think of a better occasion for embracing all things truffles than on National Truffle Day. But with so many different ways to enjoy them, why not share the love — and truffles — by sending these bites of bliss and other truffle-inspired treats to far-off friends and loved ones? Shop truffles and other gourmet food gifts at FoodyDirect today.