"So...what even IS a truffle? Is it chocolate? A mushroom? A chocolate-covered mushroom??"
You're not alone in being confused about the true definition of a truffle! To clear up some confusion this holiday season, as traditional and chocolate truffles might show up under the tree, we have compiled a list of common questions about truffles.
A truffle, in its most basic form, is an aromatic fungus that grows underground in symbiosis with tree roots. It is considered a prized, gourmet ingredient due to its uniquely powerful smell and taste. There are many different types, such as the black truffle, summer truffle, and white truffle. (No, chocolate is not a type...but we'll get to that!)
The black truffle, also known as the black Périgord truffle, is named after France's Perigord region. Black truffles grow with hazelnut, oak, and cherry trees. There are many ways to enjoy this species of truffle, including mixing its sauce form with meat or pasta, adding slivers to omelets or risotto, or even enjoying black truffle-infused mustard!
Summer truffles are found all across Europe and are highly prized for their culinary value. These truffles are harvested in Fall and associate with many varieties of shrubs and trees. These decadent truffles can be enjoyed infused in salt, as an addition to a charcuterie board, or as a bruschetta spread, among many other ways.
The white truffle is mainly found in the Italian regions of Montferrat, Piedmont, Langhe, and in the countryside. These truffles grow with poplar, beech, oak, and hazel trees. White truffles taste great in olive oil and mixed with balsamic vinegar.
The word "truffle" when associated with chocolate is confusing because the chocolate delicacies have nothing to do with the taste of truffles, just the shape! The chocolate truffle is named as such because of its resemblance to truffles: round, somewhat small, and lumpy. They are also aptly named because chocolate truffles are often considered to be gourmet in the food world.
One very popular way to enjoy truffles is by giving them as gifts! They make delicious and special additions to a stocking or as a present under the tree. Chocolate truffles are often mixed with other flavors, including pistachio, mint, and salted butter caramel, so they can apply to many tastes!