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What is a Chocolate Infusion?

By March 19, 2009March 3rd, 2015Homemade Chocolate, The Chocolate Experience

I like to think that in my own way, I have maintained the same integrity that my grand father held when he opened his bakery in the early 1900’s when he came to this country from germany.

All we’re really doing here is adding life back into the words homemade or handmade. Even though I have been a professional in the food service business for a long time, I like to think that in my own way, I have maintained the same integrity that my grand father held when he opened his bakery in the early 1900’s when he came to this country from Germany. No one would have thought to ask him if his products were homemade or made from scratch, there was no other way for them to be made then. Now in the industrial food markets of our society, we have been forced to ask that very question.

Infusing Chocolate

Infusion, in it’s simplest form, is the process of transferring the flavor of one product into another. The making of tea is the most common form of infusion. One of the items,usually the host substance, water in the example of tea, is brought to a boil. The infusion occurs when the tea leaves are added to boiling water. The hot water literally draws out the flavors and essence of the tea leaves and transfers them into the water.

In my world, the question of infusing products with fresh herbs or fruit rinds, involves chocolate, which is highly sensitive to heat and never should be boiled. A host substance must be used apart from the chocolate for the infusion to work and then the infused liquid can be added to the carefully melted chocolate.

Unrobed Truffles, Ganache

Unrobed Truffles, Ganache

Flavored Truffles, a treat, a delight

In the case of chocolate truffles, the infused product is usually cream, I have infused butter before,but this takes a lot longer since it needs to be done without boiling as well. The amount of herbs used to create a sufficiently strong infusion, varies depending on the type of product used, and the intensity of the flavor desired. I have found that using leafy herbs, such as basil, needs less of the herb and a shorter steeping time, than that of a root herb such as ginger (correction by friend Chuck, a rhizome). Again the amount of product and time is totally a question of what I’m looking for in the final product.

Experimenting with Chocolate isn’t straightforward

Using a dark chocolate, as I do for my truffles, causes me to have experiment a lot with the infusion process because of the intensity and richness of the chocolates’ flavor. Each herb that I decide to try in the truffle, has to be done in a small test size, and then tasted (much to the dismay and hardship of friends and family of The Secret Chocolatier), in order to determine the strength of the infusion needed to blend with the flavor of the chocolate without getting lost in or overpowering the taste experience of the finished truffle.

Playing With My Chocolate

Playing With My Chocolate

Anything done right takes time

All of this begs to ask the question, “Is all of this time and effort really worthwhile since we are just talking about a piece of candy.”

Without a doubt!

Sure, I could take any extract or oil on the market today and add it to my truffle and it would still be passable, but the personal satisfaction of infusing real products into mine far surpasses any value to saving time, which is all that I would be doing. You can’t get the same sense that you can get from biting into an infused truffle and thinking that your chewing on a basil leaf with an extract, no matter how good it is.

Challenge yourself as I challenge myself. Take whatever you do in life and give it life through passion and I bet you will get a beautiful result from it.

Bill Dietz

ps, if you have any questions, or topics you’d like me to talk about let me know.


Bill learned his craft at the knee of his Pennsylvanian grandfather, then pursued career as pastry chef. That pursuit carried him over thirty years from Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand and Columbia, South Carolina to the Sonoma Group in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he worked as executive pastry chef for three acclaimed restaurants. He longed to work with chocolate more intensively and now does so in our shop. When you experience a chocolate cake or brownie pop, just think about it--you’re having a chocolate moment that was thirty years in the making.