Mention the word “truffle” in the context of dessert and most people would probably think you were talking about the round, chocolate confections that are so popular on Valentine’s Day. In this instance, we’re talking about real truffles, the kind that grow underground in association with the roots of certain trees. While the use of fungus-type truffles is certainly not unheard of in desserts, it’s honestly sometimes a bit of a stretch and frequently not entirely to everyone’s taste. But there is one little-known truffle that can make a spectacular contribution to the dessert course – the honey truffle.
Celebrated for its use in ice creams, sorbets, cakes and other desserts, the sweet-as-sugar honey truffle is one of the most unusual truffles in the world. Found primarily under black locust trees which grow in the rich, sandy soils along the Danube River in Hungary, the pale, ivory-white honey truffle is as delicious as it is unique. As strange as it might sound, the honey truffle is wonderfully suited as an ingredient in all manner of creative desserts.
The honey truffle (Mattirolomyces terfezioides) has a long and interesting history in the gastronomy of Central Eastern Europe. It was first documented in 1588 when a Hungarian magistrate ordered the protection of a forest known for the production of Hungarian white truffles. The consumption of these prized truffles soared along with the prospering economy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Tons of Hungarian truffles were brought to market in the capital of Vienna, but the truffle boom eventually went bust after the two World Wars discouraged truffle commerce and consumption, which declined further during the Communist era as truffles, considered to be a symbol of bourgeois decadence, were banned.
The honey truffle has been experiencing a renaissance in Hungary, where it increasingly appears on restaurant dessert menus. And with more and more honey truffles being exported from the Central European heartland, curious food lovers from around the world are discovering the pleasures of this unique fungus. One taste of the honey truffle tells it all. It begins with a very pleasant, mild mushroomy flavor on the tongue, but then develops into a long, lingering honey-sweet finish that goes on and on. One word of caution, if that’s the correct phrase: use the honey truffle judiciously and sparingly – a little bit of this subtle, but powerful truffle goes a long, long way.
Fresh Hungarian Honey Truffles are in season from August – October. Get them at Earthy.com.
Honey Truffle Sponge Pudding Cake with Wild Berries
This old-fashioned pudding cake separates into layers of golden-brown sponge cake atop a creamy, custardy sauce while it bakes. The amazing perfume of honey truffles adds an exotic note, pairing beautifully with the comforting, warm flavor of eggs, butter and milk. The aroma of the truffles permeates the entire dish as it cooks. A sprinkling of wild berries adds a tart counterpoint to the rich, luscious pudding cake. A paper-thin slice or two of the truffle adds an elegant finishing touch to this traditional, home-style dessert.
- Softened unsalted butter for greasing the baking dish
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped honey truffle
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- Fresh honey truffle to slice for presentation
- Fresh wild berries (we used huckleberries, but any fresh berry will do)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
Combine the sugar, butter and finely chopped truffle in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, 3 – 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating the mixture well after each one. Mix the flour, salt and milk in thoroughly and set aside.
In a clean bowl, using the whisk attachment of the electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, but are not dry. Stir a quarter of the beaten eggs whites into the batter to lighten it up. Thoroughly, but gently, fold in the remaining whites with a spatula. Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish.
Place the baking dish into another larger pan, at least 2 inches wider on all sides. Place into the oven and pour enough hot, but not boiling water into the outer pan to come halfway up the side of the inner pan.
Bake until the top is lightly browned and set, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift the inner pan out, placing it on a baking rack to cool.
Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with a generous sprinkling of fresh berries and a few shavings of the fresh honey truffles.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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