Monday, February 1, 2016

Truffles, Truffles, and More Truffles!

Remember my chocolate truffle truffles I made last week? Well, I've been having a LOT of fun with them. I went to the Eugene Truffle Expo yesterday and was really enjoying myself, sampling various truffle products and sniffing the real thing. When I stopped at the Sabatino Truffles table, their representative Jade complimented my necklace and asked if I sell my jewelry. I told her that jewelry is generally my "for fun" art, while my main art practice is devoted to food design and experiential art. At that point her eyes got really big and she started bouncing a little bit and exclaimed, "Oh my God, are you the girl who makes those chocolate truffle truffles?! I am FREAKING OUT right now!" Apparently she had seen my chocolate truffles on a group on Facebook, when the post on my artist page was shared several times in various different mycological society groups and pages. It made my day to be recognized for my work, and when I told her that I had actually BROUGHT those very chocolate truffles with me to show off, she got even more excited! We agreed on a trade: I traded her my chocolate truffles for the real thing, so that I can make more chocolate truffle truffles but this time flavor them with real truffles because... #truffleception.

But perhaps you are wondering what I MADE with these chocolate and real truffles?

On the top is a dessert dish: Coconut Maple Rice Pudding with Fresh Mint and Chocolate Truffle Shavings. 

On the bottom is a savory dish: White Truffle Risotto with Fresh Parsley and Perigord Truffle Shavings. 

How fun is that??

Here are two more comparisons: 

On the left is me shaving real Perigord truffles onto the risotto, on the left I am shaving my chocolate truffles onto the rice pudding. 

I feel very lucky: I traded one batch of chocolate truffles for THIS MANY REAL TRUFFLES:

That is 3.27oz, in case you couldn't see. Most of these are from Sabatini Truffles, but a couple are from an independent truffle hunter that traded me some of his stash for a couple of chocolates. 

Now keep in mind that the current prices for black truffles is $80/oz, and the price for the Oregon-grown white truffles is about $25/oz. (as far as I could find- Sabatino is out of stock so their prices for it aren't listed right now.) That means that the little pile you see above would retail for roughly $125. Not too shabby a trade for some chocolate truffles! :) 

Truffle prices can also vary drastically, some even go for THOUSANDS of dollars an ounce- literally worth their weight in gold. Isn't that crazy??

This is a blurry picture of me looking fairly mischievous while holding about $250 worth of white truffles. (No, I didn't steal them even though I look like I am about to! ;) ) 

For those of you who maybe have never seen a real truffle:

My loot: one Perigord Black Truffle imported from France, and a bunch of Oregon White Truffles. 

The insides have a beautiful marbled pattern, which was my inspiration for the chocolate truffle truffles I made. 

But now, what to DO with all of these truffles??

The volatile scents of truffles are fat-soluble, so it is best to process them in a such a way as to capitalize on that. The smell is really really strong- my whole house smelled like truffles after leaving some pieces on my counter overnight. 

You can infuse the scent into fatty things just by placing the truffle slices into an air proof container with some butter, cream, or eggs and leave it all sealed in the fridge overnight. The scent of the truffles will permeate the fatty foods and flavor them. Since eggshells are porous, you can make truffle-flavored eggs just by sticking a truffle in your egg carton for a day or two! That's the technique I am using to make some chocolate ganache for more chocolate truffle-truffle-truffles. As I type this, I have some cream and butter in a container with plenty of black truffle shavings to infuse them in the fridge overnight. 

I'm also using some of the white truffles to infuse some light olive oil. I just grated them very finely and added them to a big mason jar with lots of very mellow tasting olive oil. Here's another interesting fact: most of the truffle-flavored oils on the market are not, in fact, made with real truffles. Most of it is chemically-flavored with just ONE of the many chemicals that give them their complex flavoring. You can learn more about this in an article by the NY Times. It's really interesting to taste-test real white truffle oil next to the typical commercially-available ones: the fake ones tend to be a little stronger and more garlicky, while the real ones have a much more complex but subtle flavor. Truffle oil goes wonderfully on starchy foods: pasta, potatoes, rice, popcorn, etc. Since I can't have butter, I love using this as a substitute on my popcorn because it has the richness of butter. 


So, How do they Taste? 

Truffles are really interesting to me because, even though I love them, I really couldn't tell you why. At first sniff, they smell maybe even a little gross: garlicky, earthy, mushroomy. It's not necessarily a pleasant smell but it is strangely bewitching. It's like "well, they smell kind of gross and taste kind of gross but somehow I still really love them?" 

I suppose it's similar to indulging in a really good stinky cheese. Kind of gross but also amazingly good. 

I am a fan of black truffles because they are a little more earthy and fruity. The Oregon Black Truffles are a little more garlicky and sometimes even have very faint hints of petroleum, while the French Perigord truffles have a bizarre but pleasing floral overtone, like wild roses. The white truffles tend to be more garlicky (at least the ones that I have tried.) The shavings, as they dry on the grater I used, smell quite a bit like chanterelle mushrooms but a little more spicy. 

Now keep in mind that I only tried 3 varieties of culinary truffles yesterday. There are many, many more varieties of truffles on the market. I can't wait to try more! 

This has been a fun experiment and I can't wait to play with my goodies a little more. I'm going to leave you with one last picture, a close-up of the truffles on the risotto: 


  1. Such an amazing day at the truffle show! Sounds like we will soon be able to day, 'I knew her when...'

  2. Such an amazing day at the truffle show! Sounds like we will soon be able to day, 'I knew her when...'