When creating our chocolates our aim is to excite and sometimes challenge the palate. Filled chocolates fall into three main categories: pralines, ganaches and truffles. My recommendation is to taste the best quality filled chocolates to truly appreciate their varied characteristics, which I explain in more detail below.
A ganache is a chocolate filling derived from mixing very fine chocolate with cream, to form a smooth, silky texture. As with pralines, the finest ganaches are made with premium cream; my favourite is from Normandy. The ganache base is then infused with fruits, spices or alcohol. Popular flavours include mint, coffee and orange, but the possibilities are vast, and we pair our chocolates with many less commonly-used flavours, such as cassis, mountain honey or passion fruit for a truly gastronomic experience.
A praline is a filling made from roasted almonds or hazelnuts, ground with caramelised sugar to form a rich paste. But to create a fine praline you have to start with the finest quality nuts. Spanish almonds and Italian hazelnuts are my personal favourites.
In traditional French recipes, the nuts are roasted in a cauldron to achieve the best aroma, then ground and combined with caramel. The praline may then be blended with flavours such as sea salt, black pepper and green aniseed, to name a few. Our pralines are usually finished in a coating of high quality chocolate coverture, but if you particularly enjoy praline chocolates I recommend trying a pure, uncoated ‘gianduja’ – sublime! Praline has a wonderful variety of textures, from smooth to coarse, depending on how the nuts are ground, and the combination of nuts and chocolate (when good quality ingredients are used) is exquisite.
Truffles are made in the same way as ganache, but the ganache is whipped in truffles, giving them a lighter texture. In some classic truffles, such as the champagne truffle, the ganache is blended with alcohol, forming a decadent pairing. Instead of being dipped in chocolate coverture, truffles are sometimes rolled in cocoa powder, chocolate, icing sugar or nuts. My recommendation is to avoid truffles with a thick couverture as this inhibits the enjoyment of the combined textures. My personal favourite is our dark house truffle (Truffe Maison) which is especially enjoyable with red dessert wine, port or after-dinner coffee.
Experience our fine handmade truffles, ganaches and pralines in our luxury chocolate assortments or visit our Birmingham chocolate shop for a guide to how to select your favourite luxury chocolates.