Seattle has no shortage of great chocolate stores, and at many of them they’ll teach you how to make truffles and other tasty treats.
THE PERFECT CHOCOLATE truffle is silky smooth, intensely flavored and absolutely satisfying. It melts slowly in your mouth, the flavors lingering and changing as they dissipate. The most memorable truffles are the ones that make you close your eyes and savor the moment.
Classic truffles are made of ganache, an emulsion of chocolate and cream. The ganache is formed into balls and then rolled in cocoa powder; the resulting confection looks a lot like truffles of the fungal variety, hence the name. Nowadays, many chocolatiers cut the ganache into squares and most coat them in pure tempered chocolate (the process of tempering is what gives chocolate its shine and snap).
There are few gifts more elegant than a simple paper-lined box of truffles, tied with a ribbon. This holiday season you can learn to make your own truffles, or take yourself on a chocolate tour and discover the amazing work of dozens of local chocolatiers. This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but it’s a good place to start if you want to do it yourself:
• Chocolate Man is the name of longtime instructor Bill Fredericks’ storefront in Lake Forest Park. He offers a number of classes, including truffle making, chocolate tempering and classes for kids. When you’re ready to experiment on your own, he rents tempering machines and sells a variety of chocolates and other ingredients such as nut pastes and candied fruits, as well as tools and molds, and boxes and bags for packaging. If you run out of steam, he sells his own creations, too.
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• Theo Chocolate in Fremont offers classes taught by talented chocolatiers on making hand-rolled truffles and salted-butter toffee. You can also arrange private classes for as few as eight participants or as many as 20. The factory store offers a rotating variety of beautifully finished confections, and you can buy boxes of their classic award-winning or seasonal selections, or choose your own combinations.
• Oh! Chocolate in Madison Park offers classes on tempering and dipping, and it sells a vast selection of flavored truffles and chocolate-dipped treats. The store will host a private class for 10 or more.
• Intrigue Chocolate Co. founder Aaron Barthel offers private classes for four in his ultracool, lab-like space in Pioneer Square. His shop usually sells about a dozen interesting varieties of individually wrapped square-cut truffles from a list of almost 200 possibilities.
• Pastry Craft’s Laurie Pfalzer teaches truffle making at your home, or she can provide a venue.
• Hot Chocolat chef Michael D. Poole teaches classes in West Seattle. His truffles are available at a number of shops in Seattle, including The Chocolate Box near Pike Place Market.
Chocolate Box is a great resource if you decide you’re better at choosing truffles than making them. Their display case is filled with chocolates from at least a dozen chocolatiers, most of them local, including Lesley’s Gourmet (a selection of clusters and caramels, as well as traditional cocoa-rolled French-style truffles) and Fiori Chocolate (intriguing combinations such as Spanish saffron and flower-blossom honey in white chocolate, dark chocolate infused with Champagne, and milk chocolate with coffee, cinnamon and citrus).
Another excellent resource if you like picking and choosing your own selection is Chocolopolis on Queen Anne Hill. Founder Lauren Adler sells her own line of dipped treats, bars and truffles, including her award-winning lemon lavender white chocolate and dark chocolate-covered raspberry rose; as well as truffles from other chocolatiers, including Kathryn Taylor Chocolates of Orcas Island, who flavors her chocolates and caramels with spirits and liquor, herbs, spices and fruit to make tempting combinations such as brandied cherry and pistachio fig.
There’s no shortage of superb chocolate in Seattle, and it probably all started with Fran’s chocolates, a perennial favorite, as elegant and beautiful as ever, instantly recognizable and appreciated by hosts and hostesses everywhere. Their double-chocolate-stuffed figs are a wonder. And one of my favorite new Seattle chocolatiers is Andrea Terrenzio of Dolcetta Artisan Sweets. Her irresistible creations, including my favorite peanut crisp truffles, are available online, at Kakao in South Lake Union and at Café Cesura in Bellevue.