tastily touring: visiting belgium with a chocolate truffle recipe by alton brown and food photography tips

Chocolate Truffles Food Photography

We have reached Belgium on our “Tastily Touring” adventure. You can’t say the word “Belgium” without thinking chocolate. And, in light of the current issue of Food network magazine, “The Chocolate Issue”, we could not have “landed” in Belgium at a better time.

But, before we become consumed in chocolate talk, let’s learn a little about Belgium. In 1830 The Kingdom of Belgium became independent from the Netherlands. It was occupied by Germany during World War l and World War ll. Belgium is a founding member of the European Union and a member of NATO.

Located in Western Europe and bordered by Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France, and the North Sea, Belgium is at a European crossroad and could be considered a European melting pot. Belgium derives its name from the Belgae, a Celtic tribe and during the past two millennia has been influenced by cultures: Roman, Germanic, French, Dutch, Spanish and Austrian.

Belgium has two main languages and regions: the Dutch-speaking Flemings from the region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking Walloons from the southern region of Wallonia. The capital (region) of Brussels is officially bilingual. There is also a community that speaks German. The diversity in culture and language helped to form a unique governmental structure. If we look at Belgium as a melting pot (of chocolates) we can see that some of those chocolates aren’t fully melted.

The diverse nature of Belgium makes for a profoundly rich culture that is reflected in its foods. If you play a word association game with a foodie and you say “Belgium” chances are they will say, “Chocolate” or “Beer”. While we like beer a great deal, we love chocolate even more. And, Belgian chocolate is chocolate at its finest.

Belgium was ruled by Spain during the Age of Discovery. It was the Spaniard, Hernan Cortes, who recognized the importance of the cocao bean when the Aztec leader, Moctezuma, offered him a beverage made from the bean. Cortes realized the value of the cocoa bean and the Spanish eventually brought the bean, chocolate to Europe, to Belgium. King Leopold II, of Belgium, colonized the Congo (Belgian Congo) in 1885. There were vast cocao fields in the Congo, allowing Belgium control of a large supply of cocoa. The availability of the cocoa bean enabled the Belgians to become premier chocolatiers.

Take a virtual tour of a few of the most popular chocolatiers from Belgium, proudly carrying on a tradition of excellence in the mastery of chocolates:

  1. Neuhaus
  2. Callebaut
  3. Marcolini
  4. Leonidas
  5. Del Rey
  6. Goossens
  7. Guylian
  8. Godiva
  9. Cote d’or

And, when you have finished your tour, try making these delicious truffles, created by Alton Brown, who has, as usual, given us a doable recipe for something that may not seem easy.

Photography Tips:

1. How to blur the background of your photos by switching your camera to Aperture Priority, Nikon uses a dial switched to “A”. Zoom in, choose the lowest F-number. This not only works with portraits but any subject. AV For Cannon users.

2. Food and Bakery Boxes, you can find them in pink at BPR Box. Natural Brown and Eco Friendly boxes. Here you’ll find macaroni boxes which can be used for your homemade truffles. Check this out for an idea how to package your goods. Mr. Takeout has a large variety of boxes. The box depot offers a variety of candy boxes. Our favorite place is box and wrap.

3. To create a gradient background, we use Savage backgrounds or you can use backdrop Alley Muslin. From BHP Photo supplies.

Featured Kitchen Finds

Kate Spade Dishes

  1. Kate Spade  New York Market Street 11 dinner plates. From Bed Bath & Beyond. Kate  Spade Shop.
  2. Rosanna Decor Bon Bon Footed Round Cake Stand Pink. From Amazon.com . Rosanna Inc Shop.
  3. Now Designs Set of Three Tea towels Cakes found on Amazon.com. Yedi Housewares Shop.
  4. Yedi Houseware Classic Coffee and Tea Pretty in Pink Dessert Plates, Pink/Gold, Set of 6 found on Amazon.com.
  5. Grasslands Road Just Desserts Cupcake “Pour it in a pan..” Pink 80-Ounce Batter Bowl with Handle and Pour Spout. Found on Amazon.com. 
  6. Butterfly paper napkins from Plates and Napkins.

Featured How to make Truffles Video

How to make Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles (Alton Brown)

Ingredients

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine*
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Directions

1. Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside.

2. Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the brandy. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

4. Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own pie pan and set aside.

5. In the meantime, place the 8 ounces of chocolate into a medium mixing bowl which is sitting on top of a heating pad lined bowl, with the heating pad set to medium. Depending on the heating pad, you may need to adjust the heat up or down. Stirring the chocolate occasionally, test the temperature of the chocolate and continue heating until it reaches 90 to 92 degrees F; do not allow the chocolate to go above 94 degrees F. If you do, the coating will not have a nice snap to it when you bite into the chocolate. Once you have reached the optimal temperature, adjust the heat to maintain it.

6. Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves, if desired.

7. Dip an ice cream scoop into the chocolate and turn upside down to remove excess chocolate. Place truffles 1 at time into the scoop and roll around until coated. Then place the truffle into the dish with the cocoa powder, or the nuts or the coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Truffles are best when served at room temperature.

Try using Belgian chocolate and cocoa powder for these truffles. We coated our truffles in Wilton white sugar pearls and rice crisps.


Featured Video on How to Make Chocolate Truffles

Photography Data:
Guest Photographer: Maris

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22 comments

  • February 28, 2012 at 12:45 am //

    So beautiful! I want to make some too :)

    • February 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm //

      Thank you Ann = )

  • February 28, 2012 at 2:47 am //

    My wife handles truffles in our house, and she always says they are one of the easiest desserts to make. And they certainly taste wonderful. This looks great. As always, wonderful photos. Thanks.

    • February 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm //

      Aren’t they great? We can use all sorts of toppings, our new find was using rice crisps, and I just thought, I bet we could use them inside the truffles as well? It would taste something like those “crunch bars”? The name escaped me? I forgot the name of those bars, loved them as a child.

  • February 28, 2012 at 4:49 am //

    Those photos are seriously making my mouth water. Chocolate is one of those things that I’m never too full for!
    Great tips too!

    • February 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm //

      Thank you Karen, so happy you are enjoying the tips = )

  • February 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm //

    Oh yum! It’s very pretty!

    • February 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm //

      Thank you.

  • February 28, 2012 at 9:40 pm //

    Lovely, lovely post. Those truffles look beautiful and I want that pink cake stand so much!

    • February 29, 2012 at 7:46 am //

      We absolutely love Rosanna Inc, the dishes, the cake stands!!!

  • February 28, 2012 at 11:00 pm //

    Thanks for the many interesting tidbits and tips. Great post. Those truffles look delightful.

    • February 29, 2012 at 7:47 am //

      So happy you are enjoying the tidbits Emily, hopefully they are helpful too = ) Thank you so much for commenting.

  • February 29, 2012 at 12:51 am //

    1. I love the sugar pearls on the truffles!
    2. I also love that sexy Yedi houseware plate
    3. Who am I kidding, I love truffles too! Fun post!

    • February 29, 2012 at 7:51 am //

      We are so in love with Yedi Housewares, so many colors, varieties, they make great props too. Thank you so much for commenting Elizabeth = )

  • February 29, 2012 at 1:31 am //

    These are just lovely!!!!! What a beautiful post! Please send me some NOW! hehehe ;)

    • February 29, 2012 at 7:52 am //

      Thank you, so happy you are enjoying the post = )

  • February 29, 2012 at 1:53 am //

    Wow your truffles look gorgeous! What did you roll them in?

  • February 29, 2012 at 11:56 am //

    Mmm, these look amazing :) I love Leonidas chocolate!
    Gorgeous pictures, and wonderful tips.

    • February 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm //

      Hi Kiri, thank you so much! I must get my hands or some Leonidas Chocolate, hard to find here.

  • March 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm //

    Stumbled on your webblog through Reddit. You know I am subscribing to your rss.