The word truffle has several meanings in the world of candy because of their different countries of origin. It was invented in France as a small, rich chocolate confection made of ganache, often flavored and usually shaped into a ball.
The original recipe, rolled in cocoa, was named after the black truffle fungus because of its physical resemblance. According to legend, the chocolate truffle was created in the kitchen of French culinary giant Auguste Escoffier during the 1920s. One day, as his stagiaire (apprentice) attempted to make pastry cream, he accidentally poured hot cream into a bowl of chocolate chunks rather than the bowl of sugared egg for which it was destined. As the chocolate and cream mixture hardened, he found he could work the chocolate paste with his hands to form a bumpy, lopsided ball. After rolling the new creation in cocoa powder, he was struck by their resemblance to the luxurious truffles from the French Perigord region and the Piedmont area of Italy.
As the concept developed, different truffle textures were created by rolling the center ganache in white confectioners sugar or finely chopped nuts, like the classic assortment shown below; and the ganache was flavored with Champagne and liqueurs.
Today chocolate truffles come in a wide variety of flavors, chocolate varieties and coatings and are made by gourmet chefs for haute cuisine desserts and by specialty chocolatiers for commercial production.