Monday, December 8, 2008

Trader Joe’s French Truffles

Trader Joe's French TrufflesI love truffles. I love dreamy, creamy, extra fatty chocolate.

I’m kind of a truffle purist. In my world, a chocolate truffle is chocolate with extra butterfat added to it and sometimes, if you wish, egg yolks. My recipe for truffle ganache is pretty simple: combine 1 cup of heavy cream and 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler on low simmer. Allow to melt over the lowest possible heat, blend well - cool completely before refrigerating to solidify. (I usually double or triple that, but those are the proportions.)

Flavorings like mint extract or orange oil might be added. I usually make raspberry truffles by combining the ganache with seedless unsweetened jam or cognac ones by tipping in some cognac (then keep warm a while longer so some alcohol can evaporate to keep it from getting runny). But the list of ingredients is brief.

They can be rolled in cocoa or crushed nuts but I usually dip them, just because they keep better that way, are generally more attractive and are of course, neater than all that cocoa powder all over the place.

French Truffles - IngredientsTrader Joe’s has been selling French Truffles for years (though the package changes design from time to time). I tried them once, many years ago and thought something was off about them and never touched them again. Even though they’re an impossible price, at $2.99 for 8.8 ounces. And French! Because, you know, if it’s imported, it has to be good! (That was sarcasm.) I still didn’t buy them and avoided them when offered.

But I was on the prowl this weekend for Trader Joe’s holiday offerings and decided it was time to give these their due on the blog.

Now, I understand how price and mass manufacturing techniques can change a time-tested recipe. So here’s what it’s done to the venerable French Truffle:

Ingredients: Palm kernel oil, sugar, low fat cocoa, whey powder (milk), cocoa powder, soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavor.

If you gave me this list and asked me what that was, I’d say that was mockolate. There is no chocolate in here. No cocoa butter. There isn’t even any milkfat in here. Just palm kernel oil. (And there must be a lot because these clock in with a caloric density of 177 calories per ounce.)

Now, to be fair, Trader Joe’s does not state on the box that they’re chocolate truffles. Nope, they’re just French Truffles. (In fact there’s nothing else on the packaging to describe them except for some little lines that say that it’s all natural and contains no preservatives. Oil is actually a good antioxidant.)


Inside the red box is a tough, gold mylar pouch. The French Truffles are just in there. No tray, no fussy packaging, just in an un-resealable bag.

The little domes of these French Truffles look like flattened spheres of pig iron we used to pick up on the railroad tracks when I was ateen. They look like little rusted bells.

They smell a little woodsy, a little like Elmer’s glue and a bit like cocoa.

The bite is smooth, they’re soft and yielding, but not at all chalky or crystallized like fudge can be.

The melt on the tongue is instantaneous. It becomes runny and slick. The sugar isn’t completely combined as it would be if chocolate was used, so there’s a bit of a grain to it. The cocoa flavors are mellow and rich with a strong smoky component.

They’re not terribly sweet, almost salty (as cocoa can taste sometimes) though there’s no additional salt added to them (the natural sodium is 30 mg per serving). The buttery texture is really compelling and they don’t feel greasy on the tongue or waxy.

All that said, after eating one or two, I don’t feel like I’ve eaten chocolate. I don’t get that same kick.

As a confection, they’re certainly worth the $3 for the box. But to get 80% of my saturated fat in five pieces, especially when that saturated fat isn’t of the non-lethal cocoa butter variety, I think I’ll give these a pass now and in the future. There are far better real chocolate products from France or Trader Joe’s.

Though it’s sometimes hard to tell who makes Trader Joe’s products, I’m quite convinced that these are made by CHOCMOD.

Related Candies

  1. Starbucks Truffles
  2. Trader Joe’s Irish Cream Chocolates
  3. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  4. Ice Cubes
  5. Frangos Dark (62%)
  6. Choxie Champagne Truffles
Name: French Truffles
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Trader Joe's (Chocmod)
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silverlake)
Price: $2.99
Size: 8.8 ounces
Calories per ounce: 177
Categories: Mockolate, France, Trader Joe's, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:34 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. bettyfelon's avatar

    I love the new christma themed background

    very festive

    my only truffle experience has been the milk chocolate lindor truffles

    Comment by bettyfelon on 12/08/08 at 10:57 am #
  2. Last year, TJ was selling two lines of truffles - organic and something a bit less expensive. The organic ones were great, the others were mediocre. When I couldn’t find the organic ones this year, I didn’t bother to buy the French Truffles - and now I’m glad I didn’t! Thanks for saving me - I might have given in to the temptation on my next trip!

    Comment by Tricia on 12/08/08 at 4:14 pm #
  3. Yuk!  I don’t like these!  I’m with you, truffles are to be nothing more than chocolate, cream and flavorings, if you must.

    The only good thing I can say about these horrible fakes is that now they are made with a purely saturated fat.  Up until last year, the main ingredient was a partially hydrogenated fat.  And back then, I thought they were just as terrible.

    Honestly, I don’t know why TJ’s sells this product.  They certainly could source a better product, and even if they had to sell it at twice the price, people would buy it.  I love their products, especially since most of their goods are usually the healthy counterparts to their conventional grocery store cousins - this product being one of the notable exceptions.

    Comment by Maggi on 12/08/08 at 4:40 pm #
  4. I like ‘em.

    ... but I like ‘em the same way I like “Paris Hilton’s New BFF”—delicious in a trashy way.

    Although, for the record—Lindor Lindt is also having the palm kernel oil.

    Comment by per on 12/08/08 at 5:13 pm #
  5. *shrug* I think they’re alright. Nothing fancy, not expecting a world class truffle but I still buy em during the holidays… they’re easy to eat and better than say… hersheys. or another corporate brand.

    Comment by laur on 12/08/08 at 6:35 pm #
  6. I tried these a couple of years ago and thought they tasted exactly like frosting from a can.  The boxes always look so tempting, but they’re totally not worth it.

    Trader Joe’s is so weird.  They have a lot of awesome stuff I can’t live without and then they come up with some of the grossest stuff I’ve ever eaten.

    Comment by Marie on 12/09/08 at 9:29 am #
  7. I had these at a party once (someone brought them as a dessert x.x) and was not impressed. I’m no candy judge, but I would not eat these again unless they were free and there was nothing better around (granted, all foods in my mind come with that last little disclaimer ;P)

    Comment by BWM on 12/09/08 at 10:48 am #
  8. I’m inclined to agree with you… then the post made my mind wander to ‘maybe I should make truffles for christmas’ and then about Alice Medrich- then I should wikipedia it…
    prepare to be kinda appalled when you read what the definition for “european truffles” is…
    I’m a bit grossed out…

    Comment by Alexis on 12/10/08 at 6:26 am #
  9. I had these before - I think we got them at Sam’s Club!  They lasted FOREVER.  They were ok, but you’d eat one and say “Uh…yeah, that’s enough.”  And then a few hours or a day or two later you’d want another.

    Comment by Tindy on 12/10/08 at 7:34 am #
  10. interesting about the ganache, a cooking show I was watching yesterday used basically the same recipe you do but he added a few tablespoons of corn syrup

    Comment by Debe on 12/10/08 at 2:28 pm #
  11. This variety of truffle is superpopular in Spain and China- I assume they’re both available and loved in other countries, but I’ve only seen them avidly consumed in these two places. You can’t beat the indulgence, I mean these things are just cheap solidified icing. Think of it as the workingman’s truffle.

    Comment by Iris on 12/11/08 at 11:36 pm #
  12. these sound like the so-called Belgian Truffles that Costco sells in a jumbo 2-pound package. They melt immediately into a slimy mess and have a questionable aftertaste that’s apparently due to coconut/copra oil underneath the dusting of cocoa powder. Compared to any real chocolate truffles these are an abomination…

    Comment by dan on 12/15/08 at 6:27 am #
  13. Ok for 1 you cant compare these truffles to ANYTHING THAT U HAVE EVER HAD WITH A COATING ON THEM. if you dont like them then return them to the trader joes u got them from. 2 these truffles are extremely reasonable in price in comparison to others i have had the chance to have and since say for instance u cant buy godiva truffles for $3 a box all u uptight ppl can gth.

    Comment by Nick on 12/28/08 at 12:43 pm #
  14. Wow, apparently if we don’t like these we can go to HELL, because… they’re cheap! Doesn’t “gth” violate the comment policy?

    Anyway… I’m glad somebody said it! I can’t stand these, never could, and they’re everywhere BECAUSE they’re cheap. It trips me out to see people who otherwise have high standards for their chocolate being all “Ooo, trader joe’s truffles! I love these!” And the truffles make a huge mess because they’re not actually coated in anything but a little bit of cocoa powder, or something brown anyway.

    Maybe it’s a chocolate vs. sugar thing. People who just want the sugar hit enjoy these, but people who go specifically for chocolate don’t?

    Comment by Dani on 12/29/08 at 3:03 pm #
  15. I realy really love these truffles. I have guess that makes me a truffle hack. I have always liked Harry and David Truffles the best, but these beat everything, hands down. THEY ARE DELICIOUS!

    Comment by Truffle slut on 12/30/08 at 5:15 pm #
  16. My favorite truffles are from Harrod’s or Fortnum & Mason in London. But, sorry all you truffle snobs, I have to disagree, those Trader Joe’s truffles are excellent! They’re more than adequate to keep me happy when I can’t get my expensive favorites. And the price makes them a no-brainer. Actually I’m glad you don’t all like them, makes sure there’s plenty for the rest of us!

    Comment by friendo on 2/23/09 at 1:15 pm #
  17. I like them.  Not in an I-could-eat-a-box-in-one-sitting kind of way, but they’re a whole lot better than anything comparably priced that you can buy at a grocery store.  wink

    Comment by Jen on 3/01/09 at 3:57 pm #
  18. Why oh why ??  don’t you open a store here?  I must wait for my truffles until my cousin, JulieAnne comes up from Washington State to bring them.  This is sooooo difficult! !  No truffle can compare to Trader Joe’s French Truffles.  Love ‘em. I have loved Trader Joe’s since I lived in California.

    Comment by Vicky Campbell on 4/27/09 at 6:53 am #
  19. Hey, I’m not a chocolate lover, but lately started trying dark one the one I especialy hated, because I found out it’s good for you once in a while, so I thought these would be something like that, gave it a try, and absolutely loved it. I’m one of those who would only eat a very expensive with a good name, with a little sugar in it (hate sugar) and quality ingridients. So just because these were from Trader I trusted it and ate like maybe 7 of them already..  started wondering, what was the price. I found the unopened box at home, and took it to work cause I candy and chocolate lovers coworkers, but wanted to have only one because I thought it would taste something like dark chokolate (you can’t eat a lot of those) But got surprised, and ended up eating almost the half of the box, I’m afraid there is nothing going to be left for them, I feel great, a little time before I came to work, I felt a little down, now I dont remebber what a dipression feels like. Also was surprised who could have bring such a cheap candies to us, but my box size is 17.6 so that makes the price 6+ bucks, so not bad.. But why would these be expensive anyway? It’s just for those who likes natural things, and specific tastes. Maybe thats because you all chocolate lovers, why you didn’t like these. For exemple for me chocolate is no more no less than a Brown Fat + nasty sugar, that ruins your breath. I feel great, now I need to go to gym to burn all that million of calories I’ve just putten on my body

    Comment by Hey on 4/27/09 at 4:50 pm #
  20. Where can i buy online these delicious trader joe’s french truffles?

    Comment by elizabeth on 12/26/09 at 3:26 pm #
  21. THAT guy may not like them, but I LOVE THEM. They are addictive. I don’t like super sweet stuff, although I do like ice cream, cakes, pies, sometimes candy bars, but these French Truffles are just a perfect taste and especially a perfect melt. They are not oily or slickly gummy. They are wonderful. I got some for Christmas, and now that I know where to get them, I will load up for snack time. Thanks for carrying this really great item!

    Comment by Brenda on 12/27/09 at 11:51 am #
  22. I wish I read this blog before I bought this crap. 3- Unappealing is just about right for this turd. The packaging looks so appealing that I got suckered. Why bother importing this from France when you can get equally bad chocolate from some generic brand?

    I wouldnt eat this for free and am about to take it to the office for a taste test. For the record, I like milk choc and I like dark choc. But the aftertaste on this comes in immediately and is harsh.

    Comment by Praveen on 1/12/10 at 6:40 pm #
  23. Oh, ah, I just bought a box to give to my employer.  Guess it was not a good idea.  I will head back to TG for another item tomorrow.  Close call.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    Comment by sweetNlow on 12/08/10 at 8:04 pm #
  24. I received these truffles as a “welcome to the neighborhood ” gift. Any kind of chocolate is a taste that I really need to be in the mood for. A few days after receiving my box of French Truffles, I decided to try one. I ate half of the box. I thought they were great. They weren’t sweet, the texture was silky smooth, and I finished the rest of the box the next day. I’ve never bought anything from Trader Joe’s, but I will now.

    Comment by patty on 12/08/10 at 8:21 pm #
  25. You people are freaking crazy. These things are delicious.

    Comment by Lori on 12/14/10 at 6:54 pm #
  26. I love these truffels wish they carried them all year, and unless you are so high maintenance you can’t even stand yourself who cares what they look like or what’s in them, plain and simple they taste good.

    Comment by jessica on 12/26/10 at 2:51 pm #
  27. Well, maybe my tastes are more plebian than most of you commenting on this blog; and perhaps I’m too easy to please where chocolate is concerned (except that I can’t stand Hershey’s Kisses); but I must admit, after just one of Trader Joe’s French Truffles I was begging for more.  My brother gave a box to our family as a gift and my husband and children have yet to know what they taste like. They are stashed away in my closet and I eat them ever so sparingly; when I feel I deserve a little encouragement to continue mothering my 7 children.  Trader Joe has me Googling “him” to find out how I can get more. Of course, I must be addicted to palm oil because I adored Ice Cubes as a kid…and haven’t seen them anywhere in 30+ yrs.!!!  Does anybody know where to get those little gems??  So, my review of TJ’s French Truffles is kinder than most. They are a savory, melt-in-your-mouth delight…slightly bitter, slightly sweet…that has me Googling chocolate products for the first time; threatening my brother to get me more or else; and completely hoarding a gift that was meant to be shared among 9 family members.  I’m so ashamed.  (not really)

    Comment by Pam on 1/18/11 at 6:43 am #
  28. @Pam—If you like these, you’ll probably love the The Belgian Chocolate Group, Original Fancy Truffles Amazon sells: Same oil and sugar blobs. I did not like them.

    Comment by EBF on 4/09/11 at 10:13 pm #
  29. dear sirs,
    we tasted french truffles and enjoy it,
    we think your product could have a good murket in Iran.we would be thanked if you like to have a good mutual business with us.
    best regards,

    Comment by toktam on 6/21/11 at 1:49 am #
  30. I’m surprised.  I really liked these chocolates.  My mom bought them and I was not sure I would like them, but once I tried them I wanted more.  Too bad I can only eat two.  If you eat 5 you are eating 80 percent saturated fat, too bad I can only eat two a day.

    Comment by Alice on 9/24/11 at 11:27 pm #
  31. You’re a pretensious boob, chocolate is made from..cocoa, therefore, TJ cocoa truffels have the chocolate taste! They’re actually very good and inexpensive! You can only wish to even come close to the quality of European sweets and other things! Picked the wrong subject to be sarcastic!!

    Comment by Ben Dover on 1/01/13 at 8:21 pm #
  32. good.  my dog just ate the bag… i was worried about theobromine poisoning.

    Comment by M on 12/15/13 at 8:26 pm #
  33. Cybele's avatar

    M- I would definitely be concerned. The truffles are made with cocoa, which is the part of the cocoa bean that contains theobromine. (Though more than 50% of the weight is fat.)

    Depending on how much your dog ate and how big your dog is, you may want to cause your dog to throw up whatever may still be in its stomach.

    Comment by Cybele on 12/15/13 at 8:34 pm #
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