Chocolate truffles have become very popular over the past several years, with gourmet chocolate manufacturers creating new combinations of flavors. Along with this has come a blurring of lines regarding what exactly qualifies as a chocolate truffle versus what is a regular — albeit delicious — bon bon or filled candy. Some differences are fairly obvious, such as truffles really being only round, but others are less obvious and toe a fine line between the two types of chocolate.
Chocolate truffles are small chocolate-and-cream-based desserts that are named for their resemblance to truffles, mushroom-like fungi that are considered delicacies. They’re small, round balls of chocolate and cream covered in a thin layer of chocolate and a bit of cocoa powder. They can be flavored, but other than that and possibly having a sprinkling of something else like chopped nuts on the outer coating, their ingredient list is extremely short. The centers are also called ganaches, similar to the thick, creamy icing sometimes poured over cakes, only much thicker. This ganache, though, does not flow like that icing and holds its round shape perfectly.
That’s essentially all there is to a chocolate truffle. If the centers are made from anything else — buttercream, nougat, coconut, candied fruit or anything else — the chocolate confection becomes a bon bon. Bon bons can also have different variations in the coating and the shape as well. Basically, if you buy what looks like a typical assortment of candies that you might have received for Valentine’s Day in previous decades — the ovals, squares and nut clusters so closely linked to the image of a box of candy — you’re probably buying bon bons. If you buy round, chocolate-covered spheres of ganache, you’re buying chocolate truffles.
Of course, when it comes down to it, both types are incredibly tasty. Which one you buy is just a matter of how many different fillings you feel like having. Truffles offer a simplicity that allows you to concentrate solely on the creamy chocolate. Bon bons offer more surprises, though many manufacturers include charts of what filling is where, which eliminates the dreaded half-bitten bon bon. No matter which you buy, with quality ingredients, each type is a treat.