The art of making chocolate truffles with award-winning Danish Master Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt of Chocopologie by House of Knipschildt at The Clarke Culinary Center in South Norwalk, Connecticut was a most delicious experience. For chocolate lovers, biting into a sinfully rich chocolate truffle with its decadent creaminess is one of life's little pleasures. Taking its name from the shape of a fungus that is the culinary equivalent of gold the chocolate truffle is every bit as precious as its earthy namesake.
Dedicated foodies and practitioners of the culinary arts, when we wanted to learn the art of creating decadent chocolates, we turned to Master Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt. The Danish "Willie Wonka" of the chocolate world, Fritz started turning heads back in 1999 with his experimental style of combining savory spices with sweet. Since then, this venerable chocolatier has earned many prestigious culinary awards, and has appeared and competed on numerous culinary television shows including winning an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
Master Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt
When Master Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt opened his artisan chocolate business, Gourmet magazine named his mouth-watering classic truffle, "One of the Top Three Truffles in the World" high praise indeed, and certainly a tantalizing reason as to why we would want to take his class and learn how to make his award-winning truffles.
The night of the class, with taste buds ready for chocolate, we entered the door of The Clarke Culinary Center, and walked through the ultimate state-of-art kitchen resource center, where their inspired kitchen showrooms featuring stunning designs and top-end quality appliances stirred our imaginations and started us daydreaming about kitchen remodeling.
Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt and Debra
The Clarke Culinary Center was perfect for its intimate setting for our small hands-on class. Fritz began by telling us about different types of chocolate and the importance of the ganache, which is the essential heart of the truffle. We also learned about adding herbs, savory or sweet spices, or alcohol to the ganache. With our imaginations swimming with possibilities, we were eager to begin.
We learned that in order to create incredible truffles it is essential to begin with very good quality chocolate; Fritz likes to use 71% Ecuadorian dark chocolate. With Fritz demonstrating, he guided us through the process of creating a ganache made by bringing heavy cream and sugar to a boil, and learned that the sugar helps preserve the truffle.
Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt working with chocolate
Once the cream boiled, he poured it slowly over the finely chopped chocolate while whisking. When the mixture reached body temperature, he added unsalted butter and a pinch of salt to bring out the flavors, and whisked it until it was well combined and smooth. With tempting warm chocolaty aromas wafting in the air, it took great will power not to dip a spoon into the ganache he had made and start sampling.
We had just learned how to create a basic ganache. In the future, if we want to add herbs such as lavender, chili, or spices such as cinnamon, or alcohol to our ganache, we would boil the heavy cream with the sugar, let it rest for 20 minutes, add the ingredients, bring the mixture to a boil, and then proceed as above.
Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt stirring ganache
The next step is to place the ganache in a cool place (not in the refrigerator) until set, which takes approximately 6 hours. Once set, cover the ganache tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. As our class was only 2 hours in length, in addition to demonstrating how to make the ganache, Fritz had pre-made a batch of ganache for us to use for the class.
Ganache ready for rolling
We each received a generous mound of ganache, and Fritz demonstrated how to break off a piece and roll it into small balls. Although we tried to make our balls as round and as symmetrical as possible, he assured us the charm of truffles is that they should look handmade. With our slightly lopsided first attempts, there would be no mistaking our truffles for mass produced chocolates. Balls rolled, the next step was to refrigerate them for 20 minutes.
While we were waiting for the truffles to chill, Fritz rewarded us with a slice of his ultra-decadent, worth a trip to one of his Chocopologie Cafés to taste it, dark chocolate cake. Paired with a steaming cup of hot chocolate with a crown of whipped heavy cream, and a glass of Gérard Bertrand Banyuls, 2008, from the South of France, you could hear a collective sigh of appreciation from the students, as we tasted his creations.
Break Time - Cake and Wine
Ganache balls chilled, Fritz instructed us to work in pairs and to wear plastic gloves. The job of one partner would be to dip their gloved hands in their bowl of melted chocolate and roll the ball around on their hand to coat the ball with chocolate, then shake off any excess, and then drop the ball onto one of the plates with cocoa powder, flavored confectionary sugar, or chopped nuts. The other partner's job was to complete the process by rolling the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa powder, confectionary sugar, or nuts, letting the truffles set for a few minutes, and then shaking off any excess.
Finger Licking Good
Note: Fritz told us that while professional chocolatiers dip their truffles into melted chocolate, the method he showed us of rolling the balls in melted chocolate on our hands is a good way for home cooks to conserve the amount of melted chocolate needed.
Edward with finished truffles
We let our truffles set for the required 5 to 10 minutes, as long as our will power would allow, and then the sampling began! What we did not eat in class, we put in a cellophane bag, tied it with a pretty ribbon, and admired the results of our classwork. Although we were tempted on the drive home, we refrained from opening our bag of handmade truffles so that we could properly savor them one at a time over the upcoming days. We cannot wait to take another chocolate class with Fritz!
Edward and Fritz Knipschildt
Chocopologie by House of Knipschildt has four locations in Connecticut: Chocopologie Sono, 12 South Main Street, South Norwalk, Sono Marketplace, 314 Wilson Avenue, South Norwalk, Chocopologie NH, 47 High Street, New Haven, and Chocopologie Stamford, 213 Main Street, Stamford.
In addition to onsite or online purchases at http://www.knipschildt.com/, the chocolates are also available at retail partners: Whole Foods Market, Balducci's, and The Chocolate Room.
Edward enjoying the chocolate
For information and hours for Chocopologie by House of Knipschildt and Chocopologie Café, as well as upcoming events and classes, please visit: www.Knipschildt.com.
Read an interview with Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt and get the recipe for Truffles in the Chefs' Recipes section.
Chocopologie by House of Knipschildt
12 South Main Street
South Norwalk, Connecticut 06854
For information on The Clarke Culinary Center, or to register for culinary classes, please visit: www.ClarkeCulinaryCenter.com.
The Clarke Culinary Center
64 South Main Street
South Norwalk, Connecticut 06854
Telephone: +1-800-842-5275 ext. 206
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