I’m very up-front about my affinity for chocolate. I tell people all the time, I’ve yet to meet a piece of chocolate I didn’t like. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of Chocolate Truffles—those delicious balls of my favorite sweet, rolled in cocoa powder or nuts.
We’re not talking mushrooms here, although there is a variety of exotic mushrooms, called truffles, that grow near the roots of certain varieties of trees. There are even dogs trained to sniff out these rare gems, but the truffles we’re making today are pure heavenly chocolate. The name for both has the same origin, a latin word meaning lump. The first chocolates made looked like lumps, so there you go. However, that’s totally unglamorous, so now you know why they’re called truffles.
Markham & Fitz—Chocolatiers To The World
If you’ve ever wanted to make Chocolate Truffles, but feared they were too complicated, that’s how I used to feel as well. The key is having just the right expert to walk you through the process. Today, I bring you that expert: Preston Stewart, Co-Founder and Chief Chocolate Officer (and my new best friend) at Markham & Fitz in Bentonville, Arkansas, part of the 8th Street Market (more below).
You’ll find the company’s chocolates sold not only across the United Sates, but in New Zealand as well. And, yes, they offer tours. The origins of the cacao they use include the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Haiti and Bolivia. You can learn more about how they support local farmers here.
Just this weekend, they received a Good Food Award, a national competition that recognizes three winners, in each category, from each region of the United States—shining a spotlight on the taste-making crafters at the vanguard of deliciousness and social and environmental excellence. Markham & Fitz was recognized for its Ooh La Lavender entry, which I will be trying on my next visit.
When we covered the Fayetteville Roots Festival this summer, we discovered the delightful 8th Street Market just a bit to the north of Fayetteville in Bentonville. Both cities, along with Springdale in-between, form a major portion of the Northwest Arkansas corridor. It’s a region filled with natural beauty, some of the world’s most successful businesses, a world-class museum of American art, Crystal Bridges, and one of the most innovative culinary programs I’ve seen, Brightwater, A Center for the Study of Food.
The vibrant 8th Street Market is a place you simply have to experience. The energy is palpable. It’s a combination of public spaces, restaurants and other businesses, that made me want to hang out all day, and so I did—for several days. The market, along with a thriving Northwest Arkansas restaurant scene, the festival and my food experiences in the region, combined with the elements outlined in the paragraph above, are what led me to stake the claim that Northwest Arkansas is destined to be one of this nation’s food capitals.
Along with Markham & Fitz Chocolate Makers, in the 8th Street Market you’ll also find Bike Rack Brewing Company, a Farmers’ Market, a Food Truck Park, Hillfolk Textile Studio, The Holler Restaurant, Juice Palm (a cold-pressed juice bar), and Yeyo’s Mexican Grill.
Make Chocolate Truffles Like A Pro
Preston Stewart, from Markham & Fitz, is highly qualified to teach you how to make your own Chocolate Truffles at home. He comes certified, by École Chocolat in Chocolate Making and as a Professional Chocolatier. As I said, my new best friend. There’s as much science to baking as there is art, and his background in chemistry is testament to that. His passion is teaching, and here’s the chocolatier’s secret to making your own Chocolate Truffles.
And Now For The Truffles!
- 1 pound, high-quality dark chocolate (60-85 percent). Of course, Preston uses Markham & Fitz!
- 8 ounces, heavy whipping cream
- High-quality cocoa powder (Preston uses Valrhona) or chopped nuts for dusting/topping
- Pour cream in a sauce pan and warm on the oven at medium-low heat.
- Chop the chocolate into fine pieces so it melts quickly, then place in a bowl.
- Once the cream almost starts to simmer, quickly pour the cream over the chopped chocolate…then wait. After 1-3 minutes, the chocolate should be mostly melted and easy to emulsify.
- Using a whisk (or immersion blender if you have one), incorporate the two ingredients until it’s a shiny, pudding-like consistent. Yay! You just made ganache!
- Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow to set up overnight, or place in the fridge for a couple of hours.
- Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop balls of the ganache onto a parchment-lined tray. Roll the globs of ganache into balls with your hands, then roll in the cocoa powder or chopped nut topping of your choice.
- Refrigerate for long storage, but if you’re going to serve within 48 hours, no need to chill.
- If you want to kick it up a bit, add your choice of bourbon, liqueur, rum or Cognac into the ganache as you’re whisking. Note: this increases the water content, thus making them softer and a little less shelf stable. If you want to keep the firm texture, replace some of the cream with your liquor selection.
And if you’re still hesitant to make your own, go visit Preston at Markham & Fitz. I’m sure he’d be glad to talk you through it. He is, after all, my new best friend…