We live in a chocolate world.
Since its inception nearly 2,000 years ago, chocolate has become a confectionary (if not dietary) mainstay that’s permeated nearly every culture under the sun. No wonder a connoisseur like “Chocolate Man” Bill Fredericks has devoted a greater part of his life to understanding the myriad benefits of the cacao bean while teaching students the finer points
of confectionary magic. Though now an adept, his mastery over the chocolate medium didn’t happen overnight. “I have been teaching chocolate classes for 23 years,” recalls Fredericks. “I started teaching chocolate classes to share my knowledge and expertise. As I took more class work at various chocolate chef schools internationally and in this country, I was able to broaden my skill levels and I could share those insights also.”
Chocolate exists in a multitude of forms, but the chocolate truffle became Fredericks’ forte. For those poor unfortunates unfamiliar with the bounty of the chocolate truffle, let it be known we’re not referring to the fungal delicacy harvested by trained pigs. “There is some confusion as to where and when the term truffle was first actually used,” says Fredericks, “but it came about because a small ball of chocolate ganache rolled into cocoa powder looks exactly like a ‘truffle’ (of the fungus variety).”
Ganache is a crucial component of the chocolate truffle and can come in the form of glaze, icing, filling or sauce. Ganache is concocted through a combination of chocolate and heated cream, a process that renders the savory ganache shiny, silky and smooth. “High quality chocolate is very firm due to the higher percentage of cocoa butter,” says Fredericks. “This is softened with cream and/or butter to make a ganache. The ganache is then dipped in chocolate, molded or rolled in cocoa or other ground substances. Often truffles have further flavor enhancements using spices, herbs, essential oils, fruits, nuts or liquors.”
Fredericks says there are numerous kinds of chocolate truffles but their distinctions are highly subjective. “In our country there are many different forms of truffles based on the composition which generally is cream, butter, or nut paste all with chocolate,” says Fredericks. “Some people will differentiate truffles into groups depending on flavors and other factors calling some 'French' or 'Neo-American' but this is all 1000% debatable and is all opinion driven.”
For his part, Fredericks has a great fondness for molded truffles into which he incorporates fruits, spices or herbs. “I like to make multicolored molded pieces. “Some are far more difficult to make. Some take up to 9 steps to complete the process, others are simply two steps. For some we make a bright fruit gel and pipe a dab of that into each. Each truffle is different and unique.”
Amazingly enough, students attending Fredericks' Delicious Chocolate Truffles class can look forward partaking in the basics of Fredericks’ confectionary magic all in a mere afternoon. “We’ll be making white, milk, semisweet and bittersweet chocolate ganaches. And we will learn how to compliment the chocolate with spices, herbs, essential oils, nut pastes, fresh fruit, and liquors. All have different techniques. Lastly we will use four different forms of presentation for the finished truffles. We will do bar truffles, French truffles, hand dipped truffles and molded truffles.”
But most importantly, Fredericks emphasizes this introduction to the chocolate world will be dynamic and fun, “It will be quite the visual, sensory and technical experience for the beginner.”
Learn more about Delicious Chocolate Truffles.