Taste: What Does Swan Taste Like?
On the stage at the Academy of Music this month, the Pennsylvania Ballet tells the story of the innocent Princess Odette, the dastardly sorcerer Von Rothbart, and his daughter, the devious Odile, in pliés and pirouettes. But in the North Wales studio of the Painted Truffle, Swan Lake is choreographed in chocolate.
Tom Sciascia, a part-time graphic designer turned chocolatier, has already tackled Shakespeare — his Romeo & Juliet truffle is the classic pairing of dark chocolate and raspberries. Now he’s taking on Tchaikovsky. “I take a lot of my inspiration from art,” says Sciascia, whose menu of truffles also includes macadamia-studded Casablanca and deep, dark Midnight in the Garden of Chocolate.
But what does a Swan taste like?
Sciascia’s first Odette truffle was white chocolate ganache enrobed in a white chocolate shell, to evoke the goodness of the princess, but the result was cloyingly sweet. Sciascia’s second attempt took a cue from the ballet’s 19th-century Parisian setting. He began to experiment with dark, almost fruity French Valrhona chocolate and French Hennessy Paradis extra rare cognac (at $250 a bottle). Encased in white chocolate, the handmade truffle retained an innocent sweetness but was more nuanced. Still, there was something missing. Sciascia watched his tape of the Russian Ballet’s interpretation of the piece again. There: the lightness of Odette in motion. Working in his temperature-controlled studio, Sciascia whipped the ganache, and as he dipped the dark in the white, he swirled the truffle, creating a delicate, feathery pattern in the chocolate.
If Princess Odette is sweetness and light, Odile is dark, almost bitter. The mirror image of the Odette truffle, the Odile is dense 75 percent Arriba cocoa ganache (100 percent cocoa was too dramatic even for Odile) darkened with a crunch of roasted cocoa beans and coated with dark chocolate.
Packaged together in a tapered silver box tied with an amethyst ribbon, the truffles will be used as favors at the Ballet’s season-opening gala September 29th. Meanwhile, Sciascia is back in his studio, conjuring chocolates out of the aria.
The Painted Truffle’s chocolates are available at the Four Seasons Hotel and Di Bruno Bros. in Philadelphia; Food Source in Bryn Mawr; Côté & Co. in Doylestown; and the Delaware Valley Farm Market in Chalfont.