Contributor: Randy Hofberger, R&D Candy Consultants, LLC
A truffle is considered by many to be the ultimate taste treat with a to-do for texture and mouthfeel. It often commands the portion of the market for which consumers will pay a premium price.
A truffle may be called many things, but it is traditionally a mixture of chocolate and cream. Additional ingredients are added to enhance shelf life, texture or flavor.
Because a truffle consists of only a few basic ingredients with minimal processing and a quick flavor release to the mouth, use only the tastiest and highest quality ingredients. A defect in these ingredients will be much more noticeable than in other confections.
Preparing Truffle Centers
The non-chocolate portion of a truffle (generally cream, but may also include evaporated milk, corn syrup, butter, invert sugar, etc.) is usually heated to 180˚F or higher as a pasteurization step to increase shelf life from yeast and mold. This heating also appears to hasten the swelling of the starches naturally found in the chocolate mass.
After heating, the liquid portion should then be cooled to a minimum of 160˚F before being combined with the chocolate portion. This will reduce the tendency for graining as the product ages.
There is always the question of whether to add the cream to the chocolate or vice versa. While there are many excellent truffles being made with both procedures, I prefer to slowly mix melted chocolate into the cream portion. This will give a consistent, smooth product that will gradually thicken as the portions are combined. Mixing the cream into the chocolate will give an initial thick mass.
After suitable cooling, the center mass can be directly deposited for chocolate shell moulding. If you wish to enrobe the centers, they generally have to be further cooled and aged to be sufficiently firm in texture. For the ease of handling of very soft centered truffles, they can be chilled until firm and coated with a thin shell of chocolate. While the initial shell coat will crack as the centers warm to room temperatures, it will allow enough support for a second finishing coat of chocolate.
Looking for variation?
A light, airy, melt-in-your-mouth texture can be obtained by whipping the cooled truffle center in a mixer until it becomes somewhat fluffy. The color will be noticeably lighter and the final density will be approximately 0.75 gm/ml. You will find this to be very popular with your customers.
Truffle Shelf Life
The most common concern with truffles is the length of shelf life. While good sanitation practices should be used in the manufacture of all confections, extra care should be taken in the preparation of truffle centers. A simple truffle of just chocolate and cream with typical processing methods can safely expect only a two to four week shelf life before the growth of mold or yeast develop. Most truffle centers must have a soluble solids level of 75% or higher to be reasonably stable. If you are measuring water activity (Aw) a level of 0.68 or lower is acceptable. To extend a shelf life there are several options available. These include reducing the moisture, adding preservatives, reducing the water activity (Aw) and lowering storage temperature.
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