I have tried numerous chocolate truffle recipes and methods and I keep coming back to the path taken by the master, Wolfgang Puck! I first saw him make them on Food Network a few years ago. Chef Puck stuffed his truffles with raspberries. Following his lead but doing my own thing as ever, I kept mine local and fair-trade, dark with 71% cocoa chocolate and local espresso against sweet, local hazelnuts.
My truffles feature “Organic Very Dark Chocolate” from America’s oldest and largest fair-trade company, Equal Exchange. Their philosophy of economic fairness and environmental sustainability deserves more attention and importance in our world. The second office of this worker-owned co-operative is in nearby Hood River, Oregon. I often enjoy the Equal Exchange cafe in my neighborhood of Seattle :)
Equal Exchange extends sustainability from the environment to the economy without national prejudice, ensuring a fair deal for both its partner-farmers and for consumers of organic and high quality products. You will find their coffee, chocolate, and other fairly traded ingredients at your nearest co-op or socially conscious grocer.
I used hazelnuts from Holmquist Orchards, a small, family-run farm that believes in producing the best. When I spoke with one owner recently, I learned that Holmquist grows the Duchilly hazelnut, which is longer, sweeter, and thinner in skin than a regular hazelnut. A regular hazelnut rarely tastes good with it’s skin on as the skin is so thick. Duchilly are not grown by most commercial producers because the hazelnut per tree ratio is much smaller than for regular hazelnuts, and of course most commercial producers’ have their profits more in mind.
I had already been buying Holmquist hazelnuts for a while because they are delicious, local, and fresh. After the owner explained more to me, I felt even better supporting Holmquist. They are producing the best product for their consumers and working hard around town to get the word out. You can find them at Pike Place Market on the first floor near the high stalls. Holmquist might also rotate through several Seattle neighborhood farmers’ markets in Summer 2008.
What better to pair with a dark chocolate hazelnut espresso truffle than a great espresso? Why not a few great espressos! For those Seattleites and visitors who don’t already know, you must try Seattle Coffee Works near Pike Place Market (on Pike Street between 1st and 2nd Ave). It is the only place in Seattle – our beloved coffee drinking mecca – where you can taste local, micro-roast espressos side by side by side. At Seattle Coffee Works, a serving of three espressos at one time is called “The Works” (below)
Their cafe is a warm, friendly place where staff and the owner, Sebastian will keep you satisfied and informed till the last drop! They work a locally-made Synesso machine with all the skill, pride, and high standards you would expect from the wonkiest espresso cafe in Seattle. Know thy coffee! ;)
4 ounces Equal Exchange “Organic Very Dark Chocolate,” 71% cocoa, chopped into small pieces
3 tbspns heavy cream
1 tbsn unsalted butter
2 tbspns strong and fresh espresso (you can add any other flavor you like)
a handful of toasted, unsalted Duchilly hazelnuts from Holmquist orchards, finely chopped
1. Create a double boiler with a heatproof bowl on simmering water. Make sure the bowl is not touching the water.
2. Melt butter first, then quickly add chocolate.
3. As soon as the chocolate melts, add the cream.
4. Take it off the heat, and mix in the espresso.
5. Refrigerate until thick enough to spoon, and stir a few times along the way if you need to.
6. Use a melon-baller, dipped in warm water & wiped in between scoops, to scoop out the truffles and dump them in a tray full of hazelnuts. This way, you won’t melt too much with your hands.
7. At this point, you have no choice but use your hands to roll the truffles around. Yay! Make sure they are thoroughly covered in nuts.
8. Place them in individual wrappers or on parchment, however you’d like to store and serve.
9. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and then they are ready to eat!
10. Serve them with a great espresso, port, or even a bold red wine.