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How to Make a Truffle from Scratch

It was hard, trying to figure out what to do for Sugar High Friday #25: Truffles. After all, we all know how to make truffles – either you throw together a ganache and roll it in something, then keep it in the fridge, or you take out your chocolate molds and create chocolate shells into which you place whatever filling you please. There is a lot of room for creativity with truffles, and for tastiness, but it all basically comes down to a filling and a coating.

I’ve made a lot of truffles over the years. I wanted to do something more interesting for Sugar High Friday.

So, I made a single truffle. Entirely from scratch.

When I met John Scharffenberger a few weeks ago, I told him about my interest in making chocolate, and also my lack of interest in buying all the complicated machinery.

He told me that I could make chocolate in an Indian spice grinder at home. Easy schmeasy, no?

So, I took some Venezuelan Ocumare cocoa nibs, sorted through them, and removed all (well, most) remaining bits of husk. I scattered them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and roasted them at 220º for 18 minutes.

I put some of them into my spice grinder, which is really just a standard, cheap coffee grinder. I ground them into powder, and then added a dash of confectioner’s sugar.

I kept grinding them, stopping often to scrape down the sides of the grinder. Once, I took my proto-chocolate out and microwaved it for a few seconds in a small bowl to heat it up, then returned it to the grinder and kept going.

This is how to make chocolate at home. Easy schmeasy, and damned tasty.

To turn my tiny quantity of homemade chocolate into a truffle, I heated it up with a small splash of heavy cream and a tiny amount of butter, stirring it into the emulsion we call a ganache. I put the ganache in the fridge to chill, then rolled it into a sphere once it was solid enough to hold its shape.

I crushed a few more of the roasted cocoa nibs by placing them inside a sheet of parchment paper folded in half, and going over them with a rolling pin.

I rolled my sphere of ganache in the crushed cocoa nibs to coat it.

And that was that. One ocumare truffle, made from scratch.

One bite.



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18 Responses to “How to Make a Truffle from Scratch”

  1. Brilynn says:

    I think I should have only made one truffle, instead I made a whole bunch and then proceeded to eat them, all.

  2. yoony says:

    wow you made your own chocolate!! wow…!

  3. Gorgeous! I wish I could pop one of those in my mouth right about now.

  4. Helen says:

    Note to self: get a spice grinder!
    Beautiful! Well done!

  5. tw says:

    That’s pretty damn cool. Hats off.

  6. Scott says:

    Very cool and absolutely beautiful too! How close are the colors in the photo to the actual cocoa nibs?

  7. johanna says:

    i met john steinberg in london a while ago and found him equally inspiring! not that i’d have gone to these lengths for making my truffles (after all, I’ve got a family to feed), but i was stunned by his enthusiasm and i certainly love to cook with their chocolate: if only it was easier to find over here!!!

  8. Yvo says:

    Wow, that is really crazy impressive. You make it sound so easy but it just can’t be that easy! Can it? o_o!

    I was reading over the comments from the last posting- thanks to everyone who offered help- so THAT’s what firm ball stage is! But ah… does it matter if I use cold/warm/room temp water? I assumed I’d use regular tap water but then I wasn’t sure. Thanks again everyone!

  9. novalis says:

    Yvo, I usually use ice water, but I think one time I forgot the ice and it was fine.

    But really, a candy thermometer is a worthwhile investment.

  10. Debi says:

    Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod! You have taken the cacao nib to an all-time high! I’m so crazy inspired I can’t even think straight. What a brilliant idea, perfectly executed.

    Now I’m inspired to go play with something for next month’s Sugar High Friday!

  11. Danielle says:

    Brilynn – I didn’t even eat the one; I gave it to my parents to split. (Okay, I ate about a truffle worth of spare ganache coated in crushed nibs, though.)

    yoony, Ari, tw, Meena – Thanks!

    Helen – Definitely get a spice grinder, they’re great to have around. I use mine all the time. What I really want is a better spice grinder, the Indian sort (like the Sumeet) where you can scrape the inside while it’s still grinding.

    Scott – Pretty close, I think, though I’m not sure how it looks on your monitor.

    johanna – He really did come off as a wonderful man, didn’t he? I’m lucky; Scharffenberger chocolate is actually very reasonably priced at my local food co-op.

    Yvo – It really is that easy! I promise. Also, what novalis said.

    Debi – Thank you! Now I really can’t wait to see what you come up with for SHF #26!

  12. Curious says:


    Like Brilynn, I wish I’d had the self control to EAT just one.

  13. Jeanne says:

    OK, I am wildly impressed!! I thought I was being adventurous jsut attendign a truffle workshop – making your own chocolate takes adventurous to a whole new level. You make it sound astonishingly easy, but I imagine that, like with all pioneers, the rest of us will find this a hard act to follow ;-) Great post!

  14. Danielle says:

    Curious – It helps to make sure they’re done right before visitors arrive. ~.^

    Jeanne – It actually is as easy as it sounds! Seriously, go give it a try.

  15. ilingc says:

    i bow to your efforts. *bow* ;)
    that said, if i went through all the efforts you did in making the single truffle, i would probably be so exhausted that i wouldn’t even have the strength to bite into that one. :)

  16. Noneng says:

    Wow! Your own chocolate… awesome…

    BTW, I love your site! DO you mind if I link my site to yours?

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