[Cinnamon, salted caramel, ginger and vanilla truffles]


I am currently working on the impact of colour – and more generally vision – on perceived flavour.
Many studies have shown that the colour of food has an influence on flavour.
what happens when one gets no visual hints? When the food eaten has the same exact form but different flavours?

Sugar High Friday was the perfect occasion for me to experiment.
I would make four different truffles but instead of shaping the ganaches into different forms and them dipping them into different tempered chocolate (for example, white chocolate speckled with vanilla seeds for the vanilla truffles), I would roll them in cocoa powder to get the same look and avoid a fashion kitchen faux-pas (it seems the current rule is to wear skinny jeans – preferably grey – with flats and a long sweater).

The results were astonishing – though predictable.
With visual clue (i.e. ganaches dipped in different chocolate)
The people detected the flavour almost immediately and the resulting perceived flavour was stronger.

Without visual clue (i.e. plain truffles rolled in cocoa powder)
It took a longer time for the people to guess the flavours which are now considered more subtle.

Apart from the experiment I am glad to say that these truffles – from Pierre Hermé’s PH 10 – are a pure delight.
The invert sugar and good amount of butter make them smooth, sweet and strong.

Balthazar or cinnamon truffles
This is always a winner combination. The cinnamon adds warmness to the already rich ganache.

Makassar or salted caramel truffles
These were very mellow and had a great caramel au beurre salé flavour. They definitely were a favourite.

Lou or ginger truffles
These had the most robust flavour; tangy and powerful. I really liked it at first but quickly got bored.

Barbade or vanilla truffles
Probably the most difficult flavour to detect – very delicate at first but then you get a burst of banana/vanilla taste which is due to the vanilla-enriched ganaches.

It was very funny and exciting to pick a truffle, not knowing what taste it would have.
As we say in French: ‘le hasard fait bien les choses’.