Espresso Bourbon Truffles

Espresso Bourbon Truffles

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We went on a fun trip out to Kentucky a few weeks ago and while we were there toured some of the big Bourbon distilleries. It was interesting to see these operations and while I don’t actually like to drink Bourbon the tastings did get me interested in cooking with the beverage.

Bourbon, by the way, is just a type of whiskey. It has to be made from at least 51 percent corn, aged in new charred oak barrels and be produced in the United States. So if you followed all production requirements but performed them, say, five miles across the border in Canada you would have made whiskey but not Bourbon. Makes sense? No? Yeah, I don’t think so either….

Anyway, here is one of my first Bourbon creations, bittersweet chocolate truffles flavored with espresso, vanilla and Bourbon and rolled in unsweetened cocoa powder (don’t inhale when you bite into them). These guys taste dark, rich and really intense. The espresso intensifies the chocolate flavor and the Bourbon adds complexity. It’s a really decadent dessert.


Espresso Bourbon Truffles Recipe

makes about 25 truffles


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons Bourbon
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bars)*
  • unsweetened cocoa powder to roll the truffles in



  1. Add cream, butter, espresso powder, vanilla and salt into a sauce pan, bring to a boil and stir until you have a homogeneous mix.
  2. Take off the heat and add the Bourbon.
  3. Pour the hot cream mix over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.
  4. Stir together until everything is well combined and no large chocolate clumps remain. (You may need to heat the mixture over a pot of hot water to get rid of the last clumps but don’t go haywire, a few small bits add a nice texture and something to bite into).
  5. Cover and put in the fridge for 3 hours.
  6. With a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the chocolate and quickly roll into balls with your hands.
  7. Roll each ball in the cocoa powder.
  8. Keep the truffles in the fridge until you serve them and don’t inhale when you bite into them.



*Don’t use chocolate morsels; morsels have stabilizers in them that actually prevent them from melting.


Food Photography and Styling: To make these very uniform balls look interesting I wanted the light to be dramatic here. I lit the set straight from the side to bring out the texture of the truffles and I blocked the front and back of the frame to leave just a small gate for the light to come through. I made sure to pick up and move the truffles with two spoons rather than with my hands because few things are worse than photoshopping fingerprints. The surface is again my rusty table and the background is one of my rustic wooden boards. I used the nice metal bowl to add the bit of elegance that the fancy recipe called for.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/10, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.


  1. Claudia says:

    If they’re just half as delicious, as your photo is beautiful I will have to make them as soon as possible. :) Love your photography! Have you ever thought about making an ebook? I would love to learn how to make those dark shoots!

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