Lavender, cardamom, and dark chocolate truffles

February 15th, 2010

Lavender infused truffle in line by lkwm on dRc

I had not intended on making 240 truffles last week – If these were gourmet mall chocolates selling for two fifty apiece, we are talking about six hundred dollars worth of truffles! Fortunately, even these of the ritzy homemade variety, were only pennies on the retail dollar.

Cocoa and chocolate by lkwm on dRcPernigotti cocoa and Valrhona pearls by lkwm on dRcCardamom and lavender by lkwm on dRc

S., my ever persuasive friend, who talked me into participating in Smithfield’s Valentine’s Day Chocolate Lover’s event where individuals and businesses prepare chocolate specialties for sampling to raise money for the American Cancer Society. As it turns out, I actually placed in the amateur category with the lavender truffles (I feel like I’m in grade school all over again receiving BIG shiny gold stars)!

Cardamom by lkwm on dRcLavender by lkwm on dRcCardamom and lavender by lkwm on dRcValrhona chocolate pearls by lkwm on dRc

I had never considered making homemade truffles before this past holiday season when I read about this incredible intensely chocolate, truffle recipe. Normally, I would leave this type of confection making to the professionals, but I had just ordered a large quantity of Valrhona chocolate and cocoa, and I couldn’t resist the idea of what special, petite, and spectacular gifts these would make for friends and family.

Fleur de sel by lkwm on dRcFleur de sel by lkwm on dRcLavender in mini chopper by lkwm on dRcCrushed lavender by lkwm on dRc

This time around, I decided to play with the recipe a bit. After all, I was making four batches. FOUR. Yes, four batches of 60 truffles each. If that doesn’t inspire me to experiment, I’m not sure what would!

Chocolate ganache by lkwm on dRcBoiling cream for ganache by lkwm on dRcWeighing chocolate by lkwm on dRcPouring cream onto chocolate by lkwm on dRcMixing boiled cream into chocolate by lkwm on dRc

After reading about one of rachel eats favorite cardamom scented chocolates, I decided to lace a bit of this lovely aromatic spice, often used in Indian and Thai cuisine, into one batch. In a second batch, knowing that lavender and chocolate make an intoxicating combination, I settled on infusing it with beautiful, floral crushed lavender buds. The last two batches I completed as traditional triple dark chocolate, adding pinches of sea salt, and a bit of extra chocolate to the ganache and coating to suit my taste, and to make it easier to form the truffles.

A lovely mess by lkwm on dRcA lovely mess by lkwm on dRcA lovely mess by lkwm on dRc

Have you ever had cardamom and chocolate together? Lavender and chocolate? If not, it is recommended that you try them. If so, then you know what I am talking about. Some things are simply meant to go together – like spaghetti and meatballs, like pancakes and maple syrup, like dark chocolate and me, like cardamom and chocolate, and lavender and chocolate.

Dunking truffles in cocoa powder by lkwm on dRcDipped! by lkwm on dRcChocolate heaven by lkwm on dRcBeauty in row by lkwm on dRc

Lavender infused truffles, cardamom laced truffles, and triple dark chocolate truffles
Triple dark base recipe adapted liberally from Robert Linxe’s chocolate truffles via smitten kitchen

Since truffles are no more than ganache (chocolate and cream and perhaps some flavoring) dipped in chocolate, and in this case, dunked a third time in cocoa, it is essential that your ingredients be of the creme de la creme variety. After all, even using the finest chocolate, cocoa, spices, and cream available on the market, you will still be able to make home made truffles at a tiny fraction of the professional retail price. And I will not gloss over the process, it’s not that’s it’s difficult, but it does require some patience, and it makes a beautiful mess, so, if you are to go to such efforts, it is worth purchasing, even ordering, very special chocolate. My recommendations are below with links for where I have ordered successfully online. However, do not be afraid to try the recipe with a dark Ghirardelli or Green & Black chocolate available in many grocery stores. With all the adaptations, I am quite certain Robert Linxe would no longer claim this as a version of his recipe, however, these are some spectacular truffles and I appreciate both Deb and Linxe’s inspiration – not to mention the fact that the original recipe is fantastic.

14 ounces of the best bittersweet chocolate you can afford and access, shaved, in small pieces, or finely chopped (55-60% cocoa content, I used Valrhona “Les Perles” 55%, ordered from here as well as some 60% Ghirardelli when I ran out of Valrhona)

2/3 cup organic heavy cream (I believe organic tastes better, and makes a better truffle, I used Horizon)

Cocoa powder for dusting (Valrhona is recommended and this is what I thought I had pulled out of my pantry, but as it turns out, I used Pernigotti, also very nice, ordered from here)

couple of pinches of fine sea salt (I used fleur de sel)

generous 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (for cardamom truffles only)

2 teaspoons of whole lavender buds, crushed fine using a mini chopper (for lavender truffles only)

Measure out 9 ounces of the chocolate and place in a medium heat resistant bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt, and if you are going to flavor the truffles, add either the lavender or cardamom in with the bowl of chocolate. Bring the cream to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan (apparently Linxe boils his cream three times, believing this increases the shelf life of the ganache – your choice on this step) and then pour hot cream over the 9 ounces of chocolate and flavorings. Stir gently and patiently until cream and chocolate come together into a silky soft ganache. Allow the ganache to either sit at room temperature to thicken (at least an hour) or place in the fridge for about 30 minutes (my impatient method).

Now you have two choices. I’ve tried both, both were messy, but I am a bit messy, so this should not be a good measure for your experience. You may either place ganache several spoonfuls at a time into a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8 inch tip and pipe out pretty mounded, rosette shaped truffles (method I used over Christmas), or you may use a mellon baller, or other spoon to scoop out rounded mounds and then roll them between your hands to smooth out (method I used this time). Both work. Pick your desired method and use all of the ganache to create about 3/4-1 inch mounds/balls.

When ganache balls are fully set, add just a pinch of sea salt to the last 5 ounces of chocolate and slowly melt over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments, checking and stirring each time. At this point, you have a choice to use latex gloves, smearing a bit of melted chocolate on your gloved hand, and then gently rolling each truffle one at a time in a smear of chocolate, and directly placing in a bowl of cocoa for coating. You may do this. It works. I did it at Christmas. This is the key to having a thin crispy shell. This time around, however, I made sure my melted chocolate was not too hot, and I dunked about three truffles at a time in the bowl of chocolate, using my hands to be sure they were evenly coated, shaking off excess chocolate, and then placing on parchment (or wax) paper to harden before coating in cocoa. This method produces a thicker chocolate coating with a bit of puddled chocolate around each truffle. I found that the cocoa coating is quite dense when the truffle is dunked directly following the wet chocolate dipping, so this time I allowed the outer chocolate to almost harden before dunking in a bowl of cocoa powder and using a fork (or cocoa dusted fingers!) to roll them around and fish them out.

You are done! Place completely cool truffles in an air tight container in the fridge to set up for several hours, and store in the fridge until ready to eat. I prefer the truffles at room temperature, but they may be eaten cold.  If you make these and experiment with different flavors, please let me know!

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Posted in Dessert | 40 Comments »

40 Responses to “Lavender, cardamom, and dark chocolate truffles”

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  1. rach says:

    Oh my goodness what a chocolate adventure and what
    beautiful truffles…I am delighted to play a small part in this
    post. A valrhona ‘Boutique !!’ has just opened in Rome – not very far from our flat
    and so I am a convert to the joys of their chocolate.
    I will try these one day.
    I am really enjoying your blog by the way, you clearly spend lots of time and put much thought and effort into bringing each post to life – lovely lovely.

    • laura says:

      rach – Thank you so much! The cardamom laced truffles were incredible – I can certainly now understand why this is one of your favorite combinations! A Valrhona boutique!? I am green with envy – it has been too long since I traveled somewhere as epic and grand as Rome – hopefully, when I am no longer raising istsy bitsy people, my husband and I will begin to travel again and perhaps we can stop in and share a lemon lunch with you and Vincenzo!

  2. The lavender truffles look amazing!

    • laura says:

      Yorkshire Lavender – Welcome! Thank you so much – aren’t lavender and chocolate a beautiful pair?

  3. Wow the flavors are amazing! Cardamom and Lavender with chocolate…I’m drooling!

    Such a gorgeous chocolatey post!! :)

    • laura says:

      A bowl of mush – Thank you for visiting dRc! The lavender and cardamom with chocolate are indeed amazing and the process made a lovely chocolate mess! Thanks so much!

  4. Shan says:

    Have never tried the lavender/choc, nor the cardamon/choc combos. But I was so completely bowled over by cinnamon/choc and cayenne/choc and cinnamon/cayenne/choc combo that it’s possible I’ve just blinded myself to other possibilities. I’ve made truffles in the past, so I get the mess. This is a strong possibility in my future.

    • laura says:

      Shan – I reeeeally want to try the hot/spicy combination. I have already promised myself that this will be my next flavor experiment – it sounds amazing!

  5. Memoria says:

    Beautiful truffles. I made a few espresso truffles for my friends on Valentine’s Day that were divine. I used Callebaut chocolate, which is one of my favorites along with Valhrona and Guittard. I bought blocks of chocolate at an organic store for very reasonable prices, cheaper that Ghiradelli chocolate bars based on weight.

    I love the interesting combination of flavors you used. I’ve never tasted lavender, so I have no idea of those two flavors would work together. I love how your truffles are shaped more like savory truffles instead of little balls. Great job! Congrats on placing in the amateur category!

    • laura says:

      Memoria – Thank you so much – after the fact, I wished that I had added some espresso powder to one of the triple dark batches – it sounds like yours were a hit! I also like Callebaut, but have yet to try Guittard (I really want to!). I live in an area where it is difficult to find blocks of nice chocolate, but this sounds like a wonderful recommendation for most people – I end up having to order online! Thanks for visiting dRc!

  6. megan says:

    These are beautiful and I love the flavors you used. I’m bookmarking this for the next truffle making session I do! Thanks for sharing. Now I’m off to check out those chocolate pearl link. I have never seen them in the pearl shape.

    • laura says:

      megan – The Valrhona “les perles” are so unique and adorable, aren’t they? Chocosphere also sent me a sample of some 80% plus Valrhona squares that was the smoothest, most delicious chocolate I’ve tasted – highly recommended. Thanks for visiting dRc!

  7. I love these crazy fun process pictures. It really expresses the enjoyment your having making these.

    • laura says:

      Jessica – thanks for visiting dRc! I did have fun – and I am generally a bit messy, so I figured I should make the most of my weakness and turn it into some form of modern food art!

  8. Wow! What a great job with the truffles! I want to go home now and make candy. I love your photography.

    • laura says:

      The Teacher Cooks – Thanks so much! I have seen what great confections you make – I’m sure if you made these they would be quite perfect as well!

  9. deeba says:

    Gorgeous post & awesome truffles. You really did a wonderful job here!!

    • laura says:

      deeba – Thanks so much! I appreciate you visiting dRc and I look forward to learning many baking secrets from you in the future!

  10. Amy says:

    I may not be able to find forgiveness in my heart towards you for making me read this blog entry, unless I happen to find some chocolate truffles in my mail box! The photos are gorgeous – I love your artistic arrangement of the food, and I know that if you say the truffles are good, they’re GOOD. I think, my dear friend, you have found your calling. And I’m so happy for you!

    • laura says:

      Amy – I’m in trouble, aren’t I? What really needs to be said is that it is you, my dear sweet friend, who first introduced me to lavender as a spice to begin with! I promise you something lovely very shortly, however, I am afraid to tell you that it was the lavender truffles that were eaten up first, so they will not be able to make it to you, this time! Miss you, dear friend!

  11. Sommer says:

    Just lovely! We made delicious truffles for Christmas gifts last year. They were a big hit! I’ve never tried LAVENDER truffles. I’ll have to add this to my truffle collection!

    • laura says:

      Sommer – Truffles make perfect petite little gifts, don’t they? I hope you post your truffle recipe at some point – I know it will be amazing!

  12. my spatula says:

    so utterly stunning!! and 240 truffles?! you are my new hero.

    • laura says:

      my spatula – Thank you! I know – 240?! What was I thinking? I still have leftovers (but not for long, I’m afraid)!

  13. Liz says:

    I want to eat all 240. Right now. My friend has a wedding coming up this summer. Maybe I will be the best maid of honor (ever.) and make these for her bridal shower.

    • laura says:

      Liz – I still have a few left and it is very difficult to resist eating them all at once! These would be perfect for a bridal shower!

  14. tiina says:

    What a beautiful set of photographs.

  15. Mom says:

    La, these are simply beautiful. John is still having fits over the ones you brought at Christmastime. We’ve actually tasted them! Do you think that people can go to truffle heaven? I want to go!

    • laura says:

      Mom – I don’t know about truffle heaven, but if it does exist inside chocolate heaven, these certainly belong there along with chocolate pot de creme, the perfect fudge brownie, and your homemade chocolate sauce!

  16. Courtney says:

    Beautiful photos! Might I suggest adding a little honey or invert sugar to your ganache… it does wonders. You seem pretty adventurous with your chocolate flavorings. Our blog may be of interest to you, we just posted a detailed Meyer Lemon Thyme truffle recipe. Check us out and keep up the good work! http://blog.happyendingchocolate.com/post/444046475/meyer-lemon-springthyme-truffles

  17. nellie says:

    OMG!!! These are so good! I love the triple chocolate dipping techniqe! Can’t wait to try these truffles with green tea!

  18. Uda says:

    What a wonderful job! I was wondering if chocolate and cardamom was a good combination and then I stumbled into your blog. I’ve just tried white truffles with cardamom, i highly recomend them, though they are a bit trickier because of the cream-chocolate proportions. I have lavender in my garden and since I read your recipe I started regarding the flowers as an ingredient for my chocolates…
    I really love your pictures.

  19. Jennnny says:

    I really appreciate your careful attention to detail! It absolutely makes the difference between good food and great food. I’m making the lavender truffles for Valentine’s Day. Thanks for your help (and beautiful photos).

  20. Skylar says:

    Excellent! I was just wondering how to go about making some lavender truffles when I found this post. How’s the texture of the chopped lavender? Is it even noticeable? I was originally thinking of boiling the lavender with the cream and straining it out. Have you tried this/thought about it?

    • laura says:

      The lavender buds end up crushed and almost like a powder. I really did not notice a textural change though heating the lavender with the cream and letting it sit for some time I imagine would also be quite nice.

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