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How-To

Velvety Truffles

Fine Cooking Issue 55
Photos, except where noted: Amy Albert
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Paul Lemieux’s chocolates are everything a truffle wants to be: full of flavor, not too sweet, and remarkably velvety. Paul claims it’s just attention to good technique—and to freshness. “Some people think chocolate lasts indefinitely, but it doesn’t,” he says. He hand-stamps every box that comes out of his kitchen in Portland, Oregon, with an “eat before” date twenty days from when the truffles were made (adhering to that time frame usually isn’t a problem).

The truffles are flavored with raspberry, caramel, brandy, and even curry—intriguingly subtle complements to the chocolate. But there’s something less tangible at work: the sensibility of someone born to master this medium. Paul can’t explain, except to say, “I’ve always felt a special connection to chocolate, ever since I was very small.”

A silky ganache is at the center of each truffle. For the most velvety results, Paul pushes the cream-to-chocolate ratio as far toward cream as he can without sacrificing chocolate flavor, and aims for ganache “so soft you can barely pick it up with your hand.”

The truffles are dipped in chocolate that’s tempered to smooth perfection. “Most people think you need a thermometer to check temper, but you can tell by looking and feeling for smoothness, viscosity, and how a dribble sits on the rest of the mass,” says Paul.

Scott Phillips

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