I did my Valentine’s Day chocolate post a couple weeks ago, but I’m still in the mood for chocolate so I decided to double down. You can’t have too much chocolate.
If you want to show your love for that special person, make your own chocolate truffles. Mixing a little labor with your sentiment is always a nice touch. And surprise him/her with a filling of blue cheese. (Yes, it works. See below) Accompanied by a nice Malmsey Madeira or Tawny Port and you are all set for Valentine’s Day.
Unfortunately, chocolate truffles can be a challenge to make at home. That smooth, shiny finish and pleasing snap as you bite into it is the result of the process of tempering the chocolate coating, which can be time-consuming, exacting, and a bit temperamental. And forming attractive shapes takes a lot of practice. Happily, an authentic truffle need not be dipped in tempered chocolate or symmetrically shaped. The whole idea of a truffle is that it should look like a truffle–the fungus that pigs dig from under the roots of a hazelnut tree.
It is much easier to make truffles if you are not worried about a smooth, glossy, regular surface. It is a great thing when authenticity coincides with easy.
I want to use this recipe as an experiment testing the food-pairing theory, one of the two reigning theories of why flavors work together. (The other is called network theory) The food-pairing theory asserts that ingredients that share flavor compounds will pair well together. It turns out that chocolate and blue cheese share 73 flavor compounds, which led Heston Blumenthal, chef/owner of The Fat Duck to develop his famous Molten Chocolate and Blue Cheese Cake.
The jury is still out on whether flavor-pairing theory always works. It has many detractors. In this case, I would say the theory holds up well. When you first bite into the truffle the flavors and textures of chocolate and blue cheese meld so completely that even this pungent blue cheese stays in the background. But gradually the acidic tang of the cheese cuts through the thick ganache and the finish is decidedly cheesy.
It is an unusual flavor combination that struck me as odd at first but became increasingly enticing. Score this a win for flavor-pairing theory.
Here is my recipe for chocolate/blue cheese truffles. Continue reading