Anthony Bourdain has tasted it all, but cheese truffles surprised him. During a episode of the Travel Channel’s The Layover, the TV host sampled a ball of cocoa-dusted chèvre from Oregon’s Briar Rose Creamery. He chewed skeptically. “Wow,” he said. “This shouldn’t be good, but it is.”
Bourdain had hit on a trend: More and more American purveyors are making orbs of chocolate-dipped cheese as they play with tradition. In Oregon, Jeff Shepherd of Lillie Belle Farms Artisan Chocolates pairs Rogue Creamery blues with dark chocolate. In Vermont, Leigh Williams of Laughing Moon Chocolates plays with lavender and chèvre. Wisconsin chocolatier Gail Ambrosius molds mascarpone and milk chocolate into hearts. And in Buffalo, N.Y., Jill Forster of Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile has the most fun of all—she and the shop’s chef, Emily Pierce-Delaney, make six creative truffle varieties, from Brie-bacon-fig to Taleggio–salted walnut.
Because they are so delicate and more perishable than your average chocolate-dipped confections, hand-rolled cheese truffles are tough to produce in vast commercial quantities. But for the home cook, they’re a doable yet special treat. “They melt across your palate and coat the tongue—it’s a revelation,” says Briar Rose’s Sarah Marcus, whose truffles sold Bourdain. “They’re little gems of joy.”
A small melon baller or cookie scoop is a truffle maker’s best friend, yielding consistent-size rounds.To keep chocolate from burning, heat it in a double boiler. In a pinch, melt chocolate in a stainless steel mixing bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water.
Never add water to thin melting chocolate—it will cause the chocolate to turn grainy. If chocolate cools too much, slowly heat it again.
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty—it’s chocolate, after all.
Dark Chocolate–Blue Cheese Truffles
- 6 ounces heavy cream
- 8 ounces dark chocolate chopped, plus 2 ounces, chopped, for rolling
- 4 ounces blue cheese such as Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue or Roelli Cheese Dunbarton Blue, crumbled
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat cream until just boiling. Remove from heat.
- Place 8 ounces of chocolate in a medium bowl, and pour hot cream over it. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir cream and chocolate together until blended—the ganache will be the consistency of thick pudding. Set aside, and let come to room temperature.
- When ganache is room temperature, stir in cheese. Pour into a baking dish, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap onto ganache’s surface (make sure the plastic is directly on top of the ganache, or condensation will ruin the texture). Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until firm enough to scoop.
- Melt remaining chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat, and let come to room temperature.
- Use a small melon baller to measure out a truffle, then use your hands to roll it into a ball. Place a dab of melted chocolate in your palm, then roll the truffle in it to coat. Roll truffle in cocoa powder until coated, and transfer to a parchment-lined tray. Continue with the rest of the ganache. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in a tightly covered container for up to 3 days.
Taleggio–Salted Walnut Truffles
- 12 ounces Taleggio
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 24 walnut halves
- Kosher salt to taste
- 16 ounces milk chocolate chopped
- Cut Taleggio into 24 uniform squares, discarding the rind, and place on a parchment-lined tray. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and cook, stirring, until coated with butter and toasted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, and set aside to cool.
- In double boiler over low heat, melt chocolate, then remove from heat to cool slightly. Using two forks, coat cheese squares in chocolate. Top with a walnut half. Place in the refrigerator to cool. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 2 to 3 tablespoons dried lavender bundled in cheesecloth
- 36 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped
- 6 ounces chèvre crumbled
- 3 tablespoons vodka
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat cream to just below a boil. Steep lavender bundle in cream for 3 to 4 minutes, then discard.
- Transfer cream to a large, heavy bowl, and add chocolate and cheese. Whisk until smooth. Once mixture is emulsified, add vodka, and mix again to incorporate. Pour into shallow baking sheet or dish, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap onto chocolate mix’s surface. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until firm enough to scoop.
- Use a small melon baller to measure out a truffle, then use your hands to roll it into a ball. Add to a parchment–lined tray, and continue with rest of the ganache. Toss truffles, a few at a time, in cocoa powder to coat.
- Cool in the refrigerator, then store at room temperature if truffles are being eaten immediately, or up to 3 days in the fridge. Reroll in cocoa and bring to room temperature before serving.