Key Ingredients

With our focus on all-natural confections, you can imagine how important it is to find high-quality and unique ingredients. We use, for instance, whole Tahitian vanilla beans, organic lavender, and the best spices we can procure.

Some of the ingredients come from unlikely sources, because I’m always poking around small shops in case I find something interesting. And today I used two interesting finds to create a couple of amazing truffles.

One was found not in a small shop, but in the largest liquor store in Chicago, Sam’s Wine and Spirits. Mathilde Raspberry Liqueur is a wonderful French drink hand-crafted with a traditional family recipe that’s over a hundred years old, and is deeply flavored and not overly sweet. (The American bottle does say Raspberry and not Framboise, by the way.)

I’ve been working on a fruit-flavored truffle — a large challenge because of the water content of the fruit — and may settle right here as far as raspberry is concerned. The truffle is exquisitely creamy with the beautiful flavor and aroma of raspberry. I didn’t want to take away from the melded flavor of chocolate and raspberry, so I simply topped them with stripes of white chocolate.

A more obscure find was some pine-smoked black tea purchased from a small co-op in the middle of Iowa. It smelled like a campfire and instantly kindled my curiosity about what kind of truffle it might make. (Heather later pointed out to me that I already own a bag of lapsang souchong tea, the proper Chinese name, hidden amongst Kakao’s inventory.)

Allegedly, way back when in China, the tea-drying process was interrupted because an army was passing through the area, so the villagers did what any tea-thirsty villagers would do, and sped up the process by drying the tea leaves over a pine log fire. Who knew?

As fair warning, this truffle is not for everyone. It’s rich in smoke, like a huge bonfire the next morning, and almost meaty in its flavor. I topped half of the batch with just a tiny bit of black smoked salt, and the other half with a less flavorful pink Hawaiian coral salt. Truly the topping is just to identify the truffle, because the flavor is strong enough to contend with whatever I put on top.

By the way, our delivery sale is still on, and includes these new truffles while I have them on hand — any $30+ order gets free delivery within 10 miles of the shop. Use orders@kakaochocolate.com to make sure you don’t miss out.

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