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I have a dilemma.  I entered what I thought was a "Truffle" contest and the winners were what I consider "Bonbons".  I remember some time ago on the old Discover Chocolate site Clay defined several types of Truffle.  I think they were: French, American, Nouvelle American.  I also posted this question: What is a "Traditional Truffle" on the Ecole Chocolat Graduate forum.  There seems to be a wide and subjective definition.  What is yours?

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Hi Bill,

A traditional confectionary "truffle" is best described as a ganache with no tempered chocolate involved. A ganache is simply chocolate and cream. The ganache can be rolled in a variety of coatings including cocoa powder or diced or finely chopped nuts/seeds. Since the outer layer of ganache is not covered or protected with tempered chocolate the shelf life is very short (around 2 weeks). They will also need to be refridgerated, preferably covered with plastic wrap. 

Hope this helps.

Jeffray D. Gardner


We make traditional truffles and then cover them in tempered chocolate for exactly the reasons Jeffray mentioned; they will have a shorter shelf life if they're not protected. The average consumer here thinks of the mass produced so called "truffles" as what a truffle is. That drives me nuts!!!!!

We call it "classic" truffles, made with chocolate +cream+ butter, rolled in tempered chocolate and then in cocoa powder.

We distingue between truffles and pralines by the first being round, piped and rolled by hand, the second being moulded items with a filling...

That is my definition also.  This contest judged molded and filled Bonbons, Pralines and Truffles in the same category as "Traditional" and "Non-Traditional" Truffles.  I will be contacting the contest administrator with some suggestions. 

It drives me crazy too! Ha! It's as if there is no other definition any more

My personal definition?

Ganache that is hand rolled into balls and then enrobed with couverture.  Sky's the limit as far as surface decoration is concerned, but no piped in fillings into molded shells.

Mine too.

The word truffle, as it applies to a chocolate confection, traditionally refers to confections that look like the truffles (fungus) dug from the ground - irregularly shaped and very often covered with cocoa powder. Traditional truffle centers are made by hand-rolling usually fairly dense ganaches (high chocolate to liquid ratio) and not worrying at all about whether they are perfectly regularly shaped. Traditional truffles are sometimes referred to as truffe nature or natural truffle because of that resemblance.

Depending on how long the truffle needed to last (and the maker's thoughts about texture), a truffle may be covered (mechanically enrobed or hand dipped) with chocolate. Further embellishment may come in the form of additions or alternatives to the cocoa powder coating - green tea powder is common in Japan, shredded coconut, and nuts in one form or another are also common; any these may be used with or without the chocolate covering.

The hand formed truffle is contrasted with two other production methods:

A) Slabbed (usually ganache, but may be layered with pate de fruit, caramel, or other element) pieces that are then enrobed and may be further decorated. A slabbed ganache that is covered in a powder or left uncovered is sometimes called a pavé (maybe referring to the gem cut, or to a paving stone).

B) Shell-molded pieces.

The important technical difference between slabbed and shell-molded pieces is that in a slabbed piece the center forms the support for the chocolate shell; in a shell-molded piece, the shell forms the container for the center, which tends to be softer than that of a slabbed piece.

I use the word bonbon (from the French, colloquially "good good") to refer to slabbed and shell molded pieces. I don't use the word praline (which I believe is Belgian in origin - as contrasted with praliné, which refers to caramelized nuts and is French) because it is already so overloaded with meanings. I use truffle to refer to a truffe nature.

Bonbon, praline, and truffle have all been conflated over time and are generally used interchangeably though technically, at least in my mind, they refer to different final forms based on the method of production.

PS. I use French (aka southern European), Belgian (aka northern European), American, and Nouvelle American (or nouveau French) to refer to different generalized approaches to flavor in ganaches and centers, not to physical styles of work.

Now that is what I call a definition of all definitions! Thorough and articulate....well done Clay (as per usual :)

I have always understood a truffle to be a ganache of chocolate, fat and flavor. If it has glucose syrup or other stabilizers is it still considered a truffle?

In a word, yes.

The definition of truffle is not ingredient dependent on that level. It's the form of the finished piece.

If you want to know something about chocolate go to the source!  Thank you Clay.  I will be forwarding this information along with the information from the International Chocolate Contest to the operator of the show and competition I entered.  Competition is good but judging should be on a level field.  ]

Thank everyone who answered my question.


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