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What is a Truffle?

Posted on October 2, 2012 1:09 PM by Caitlin
Chocolate Truffles

There are many different things that we can do with chocolate to create different chocolate candies. Sometimes, we add homemade caramel to the middle, as in our honey caramels, our caramel five star bar, and of course, in the ever popular sea salt caramels. Sometimes, we cover nuts with chocolate. Other times it’s orange peels. But what our company started with thirty years ago, and what we built our name on is a chocolate confectioner’s tradition: the chocolate truffle.

What is a chocolate truffle?

A chocolate truffle is a chocolate candy in which the filling is made out of ganache. Ganache is a mixture of chocolate and cream, whipped together to create a smooth delicious center. In our ganache, we whip together Belgian chocolate with local butter from Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery and local cream from Monument Farms. The ganache filling can be coated with any number of items. Traditionally, it was rolled in cocoa powder, but the ganache can also be rolled in nuts, coconut, or anything else you might fancy. We coat ours in a layer of hard chocolate, and hand-decorate the tops.

Why is it called a truffle?

Truffles from the Ground (the Fungus)

You may have heard of a tasty little fungus, rooted out by pigs or dogs, that is so exquisite it can sell for $400 to $600 a pound. Well that truffle bears a striking resemblance to the original, hand-rolled truffles created in Europe in the early 19th century. In fact, those confectioners named their chocolate creation after the fungus, which helped it gain an elite status, to be appreciated by nobles and the higher classes (just like the other truffle).

The History of the Truffle:

There are two competing stories here: the first is a great tale of a mistake that turned into a creation. In 1920, an apprentice for the great French Chef Auguste Escoffier was attempting to pour hot cream into a sugared egg mixture, but somehow mixed up his bowls and ended up pouring it into his broken chocolate instead. Not wanting to waste the ingredients, he waited for the result to cool a little, then rolled the chocolate and cream in cocoa powder. And so the truffle was born.

Peter's Gala Chocolate

The other story goes back to when Milk Chocolate was first invented. In the Swiss Alps, Daniel Peter devoted many years to the incorporation of milk into chocolate, which was a very difficult task, since cocoa contains so much fat that it does not mix well with milk. After years of research, he was finally able to do so in 1887, and his “Gala Peter” chocolate sold across Europe, and eventually the world. It was the foundation for the Societe Generale Suisse de Chocolat, which eventually merged into Nestle-Petr-Cailler-Kohler in 1929, and is now known as Nestle. Many tried to copy his invention, and in the process, they probably poured cream over chocolate, with the result being a ganache (which, by the way, has a much shorter shelf life and a very different taste and feel from milk chocolate!) This in turn led to the truffle, which became its own delicacy. (You can read more about the history of milk chocolate here.)

Where does the chocolate truffle end and other chocolate candy begin?

This question is up for a bit of debate. Generally speaking, any sort of chocolate confection with a ganache filling would be considered a truffle, which means that our revel chocolates are also truffles, even though they are squares. American truffles have a tradition of being shaped like a half egg (as ours are) while European truffles tend to be smaller and round (like our organic truffles.) However, chocolates with cream fillings are not truffles, since they have no ganache. Therefore, our Chocolates of Vermont or the chocolate creams you can get in our selection boxes cannot be considered truffles. That doesn’t mean they’re any less delicious, however!

The joy of chocolate is that it is terribly delicious just on its own, and can be combined with so many other flavors, either by pairing or by creating new treats that it is an inexhaustible resource!


Top Ten Lake Champlain Products of 2012

Posted on September 10, 2012 9:17 AM by Caitlin

We have an amazing variety of products here at Lake Champlain Chocolates, from our truffles – the first product we ever created – to our bars, selection boxes, and Chocolates of Vermont, and a lot of it is popular. But we recently saw a listing of the Top Ten Chocolate Trends of 2012, and that made us think. What products do we have that have seen a lot of success in 2012? Here’s what we came up with:

Chocolate Frog

10.Novelties

One item that can always get a reaction from our customers is a novelty. Whether it’s a chocolate turkey, a spooky chocolate cat, or a more conventional chocolate Easter bunny or chocolate santa, the variety of novelty items we make and the specialized way in which we hand decorate every item shows in the oohs and aahs these get when customers pick them up in our stores.

9. Signature Bars

We sell our chocolate through three channels: in our retail stores, online, and by distributing to various stores around the country. Our most popular product for these stores to stock is our bar, and our natural ingredients and high-class Belgian chocolate leave little wonder as to why. With delicious flavors such as Raspberry and Hazelnut Praline, there is a lot to choose from, but our top sellers are our 54% dark chocolate and our milk caramel.

8. Caramel Nut Clusters

Using a variety of different nuts, from almonds to pecans to macadamia nuts, we have created the perfect combination of caramel, chocolate and nut. In fact, since nuts are healthy, and chocolate isn’t bad for you either, our retail staff have been known to eat these clusters for breakfast. They consistently draw the eye of our customers in our retail stores, and demand is strong online as well!

7. Truffles

We made our name with a truffle, and our truffles are still one of our hottest items. The ganache (the inside of our truffles), is handmade with – believe it or not – an egg beater, and there is literally one guy in our factory who makes all of our ganache, blending the Vermont butter and cream into our chocolate, and adding the appropriate flavorings. Our top selling flavors are Legendary Dark and Raspberry.

6. Five Star Bars

We may have started with truffles, but we broke new ground with our Five Star Bars. From mentions in books, to exclamations of pure joy when we give them out as samples on our factory tours, we know and love all five of our flavors. Our hazelnut and caramel bars, however, rule this category.

5. Hot Chocolate

Our hot chocolate goes beyond the “just add water” variety. We create a creamy, smooth and delicious blend that has earned us a place on the Wall Street Journal’s Serious Hot Chocolate article. With a number of varieties, from Spicy Aztec to Mountain Mint, we have more than just liquidized our chocolate – we have created a new genre. Top sellers here include our traditional and our organic blends.

4. Chocolates of Vermont

These were the second set of products we ever made, almost thirty years ago. There are four flavors, each representing a different Vermont season. With close ties to Vermont’s seasons and ingredients, these are big hits for gifts for out-of-state-ers or for anyone who just loves maple toffee, honey caramel, peppermint, and fruit and nuts in delicious chocolate. We sell them in a variety of forms, from gift bags to beautiful gift boxes.

3. Almond Butter Crunch

In our stores, we will frequently have people come in and purchase a whole pound of this, probably because it is very difficult to stop eating after just one piece. The buttery-ness of the toffee topped with almonds that we grind ourselves and a little bit of saltiness all combine to make this an irresistible treat. That’s why we offer it as one of our items in our chocolate of the month clubs and it is why it retains the Bronze position on our top-ten list.

2. Peanut Butter Cups

An all-American treat, it’s no wonder this has the Silver position on our list. We create the inside of our peanut butter cups by mixing peanuts with white chocolate into peanuty, sweet deliciousness, layered on the bottom and on top with our milk chocolate. Once you’ve have one of ours, you’ll never want to go back to any other kind!

1. Sea Salt Caramels

We make all of our caramel in house, and it is truly delicious, and deserving of the Gold spot on our list. The salt on top of these chocolate-coated caramels cuts through the sweetness of the candy, and also helps you to explore all of the flavors within the caramel (that’s why we use salt in baking – it opens up other flavors.) It’s a winning combination, and, as anybody in our retail store can tell you, it means that we constantly have to restock the shelves with more!

That’s what we see as our top-ten, but that’s not all we do. Did we miss something you love? If so, let us know in the comments!


Fall is in the air, we're reflecting that in our stores. We've started seeing the leaves turn in the trees as we drive by them...

Vermont Autumn Trees

...but now you can get that feeling in our stores as well. You've already heard about our artist's vision for our fall collection, and we've decorated our stores to match:

Lake Champlain Chocolates Autumn Store Decorations

To echo the changing seasons, we've brought out a number of exclusive fall chocolates of Vermont. In addition to our peanut butter and caramel leaves, we also have some specialty autumn gift boxes. In the true spirit of fall, we are offering a unique truffle flavor that is only available this time of year: the pumpkin truffle. If you like all things spiced, be sure to taste this one. Made with real pumpkin and seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg, this truffle is the chocolatier's answer to the perfect pumpkin pie. Want to try one? We have them in our autumn collections, or you can stop into one of our stores and find them behind the counter.

Pumpkin Truffle

Although the weather is helping us start to think about autumn here in Vermont, you can get yourself in the mood for fall anywhere! Maybe a little of our chai gourmet hot chocolate would help?

And if you're in the area, stop by our factory store for a factory tour! The summer rush is over, and the tours are becoming much more intimate. Plus, as we gear up for our busy season, we're making more and more cool chocolate confections in our factory.

However you decide to celebrate, have a great end-of-summer.


New Favor Boxes & Ribbons

Posted on August 23, 2010 9:38 AM by Erin

If you're a soon-to-be bride, you know that getting married is not just as simple as walking down the aisle.  There are details...and lots of them!  And not a single one of them seems unimportant.

Besides setting a date and choosing a venue, what's often at the top of the to-do list?  Picking a color scheme.  Why?  Because not only does it show off your personal sense of style, but it affects everything else from the bridesmaid dresses, to the invitations, flowers, programs, and yes, even the favors.



So with color schemes in mind, we're excited to have recently added a ton of new ribbon options to our most popular wedding favor - the Custom Engraved Favor Box.  There are now 20 different ribbons for you to choose from & coordinate with your big day - from classic colors such as ivory, black, navy, and brown to those that will make a bolder statement - such as turquoise, purple, raspberry, and orange.  We even have chartreuse!

And because we know brides love options, we're now offering two different box designs - a simple yet elegant White Favor Box or, if you want something a little more fun, go for the box with the Cocoa Pod Design printed on it.

With each box, you can choose your favorite chocolates to tuck inside, including gourmet truffles, chocolate hearts, or Chocolates of Vermont.   You can also make your event extra special by adding an engraved message to the top of your chocolate wedding favors.



Happy Choosing!

P.S. Don't forget to enter the Say Something Sweet Contest we're running with our friends over at WeddingWire.com!  There are just a few days left to enter.


Hello, Summer!

Posted on May 4, 2010 2:56 PM by Allison

It’s getting to be that time of year again, I’m afraid.

While we’re all overjoyed to be playing in the dirt, smelling spring’s blossoms and loving the bike rides to ice cream stands after dinner, warmer temperatures and singing robins mark the beginning of a summer shipping schedule at Lake Champlain Chocolates. (In other words: order your chocolates now!)

Here’s the skinny.  From May 10th until June 1st we require that all chocolate shipped outside of New England be shipped via 2-Day Air.  From June 1st until September 30th, we require all chocolate outside of New England to be sent overnight.

Why such strict regulations, you ask?  We would hate for you to pay for an adorable Chocolate Frog, gourmet chocolate truffles or some lovely Mother’s Day Chocolates just to have them melt in transit.  Shortening transit times allows your chocolate to arrive safe and sound (and solid) to be enjoyed in the same high quality condition it leaves our factory in.

So, in a manner of speaking, this is last call and my recommendation is to stock up now.  I’d hate for a Caramel Five Star Bar craving to go unchecked. 

If you do happen to order after May 10th and realize that shipping charges are a little pricier than you were expecting, remember that all of our chocolates are made by seasoned chocolatiers and are carefully packed with tissue paper, ice/gel packs and a personalized card.  We couldn’t bear to send you anything that’s less than perfect.


Yes, you read that correctly.  The words Cake and Truffle in the same sentence.  There’s frosting in there too, and lots of dark chocolate.  This delightful bite-size treat makes a great dessert – or if you’re like us here at Lake Champlain Chocolates, enjoy them with your morning coffee.  It’s never too early for chocolate!

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake
3 scant cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 c sugar
1 c Lake Champlain Chocolates Unsweetened Cocoa
1 ¼ c butter melted (2 ½ sticks)
2 1/3 c warm water
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla

Frosting
2 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 c confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
(you can use 1 cup of store-bought frosting here if you’d like)

Chocolate Coating
24 ounces Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% dark chocolate, tempered if desired (coating will harden better if it is tempered)
White chocolate to garnish, if desired

To make cake:  Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir in the wet ingredients.  Beat until smooth.  Butter a pan and dust with flour.  Bake in oven at 350º for one hour or until toothpick is removed dry. 
(You’ll find this recipe on the back of our baking cocoa tin!)

Allow the cake to cool for about thirty minutes before “stirring” it and dumping the crumbled cake into a large bowl.  Using a big spoon or your hands, combine the cake and frosting until well-incorporated.  Roll the cake into small balls, about half the size of a golf ball.  Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and refrigerate for about an hour.

Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler, tempering if you choose to do so. Using a fork (or a chocolate fork if you have one), dip each cake ball in the chocolate, coating it completely.  Return to wax paper and allow to cool.

If you’d like to decorate the Cake Truffles, melt white chocolate to just liquid – make sure it doesn’t get too hot, you’ll have a hard time handling it.  Pipe the white chocolate onto the cooled "truffles".

Makes about 75 Cake Truffles


 


 

 

He answers the phone unwaveringly every day with a smile on his face and in his voice.

She knows who to call when the AC is blasting in December, or the heat is on in July.

He sends the annoying salesperson who has called three times that week straight into your voicemail.

She double checks your letters to ensure there are no typos or grammatical errors before it goes out in the mail.

He has hot coffee and fresh baked goods on hand when your most important client comes to the office for a meeting and greets them all by name when they arrive.

She knows everyone’s birthday in the company AND everyone’s kids’ names.

He knows how to un-jam the printer, lickety-split.

They are the backbone, the glue, that indispensible person in your company who holds everyone together.

And it’s time to say thanks.

Even though you should be thanking everyone you work with every day, in case that doesn’t always quite happen, there is a special day to honor those people who help you get through each day with success.  Administrative Professionals Day.  This year it falls on Wednesday April 22.  Yes, it’s a long, cumbersome name and seemingly all-encompassing.  So many people do so many different tasks in an office to keep it running smoothly, it’s often hard to pin-point – who DOES fall under the Administrative Professional definition?

Well, I say be liberal, be generous, when thinking about who is deserving of your appreciation.  I mean, can you really appreciate someone too much?  

And what better way to show your thanks than a gift from Lake Champlain Chocolates!  Sure, flowers are pretty, but chocolates you can secretly bring home and keep all to yourself, share with your co-workers, or save up and savor one piece a day, making the gift last that much longer,(and pushing you through that 3:00pm lull).

Here are just a few ideas- a big box of exotic, gourmet chocolate truffles to excite the senses, the spring chocolate assortment featuring our most sought after creations wrapped in joyous spring colors, or combine flowers and chocolate in one gift with our chocolate flowers gift box or bag. 

Finally, if you know your admin professional has a particular favorite, choose a box of our handcrafted chocolates- dark chocolate vanilla caramels, almond butter crunch or chocolate peanut butter cups to name a few.  There are endless options! 

Consider this your reminder, because this is one thing your administrative professional will not do.