How to make Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles: Tips from Chef Fran Costigan

Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles

This popular recipe from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts is a perfect holiday confection to serve after a meal, before the “big” dessert, or arrange on a dessert tray. Vegan or omnivore or in-between, everyone is sure to love these unusual truffles.

As I have made many hundreds of these Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles to serve at my book parties, I’ve learned a few new things that I wanted to share.

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This unusual chocolate truffle is soy and nut-free, and therefore suitable for people with a variety of dietary considerations and sensitivities. Since the truffles can be made ahead and frozen until needed, having a holiday confection ready to serve is a breeze. The flavor pairing of orange and chocolate is fantastic at any time, but particularly nice during winter. Add a healthy dose of calcium and magnesium-rich sesame, in the form of both the tahini and seeds, and we’ve got real goodness in the simply made confections.

§  One large navel orange yields enough zest and juice for the recipe. While I prefer using organic ingredients, I make a point to say that choosing organic is a personal preference. Use what feels right to you. However, I do note in my recipes and in my classes that using the zest of non-organic fruit is something I would never do. Here’s why:

  • The aromatic oils in citrus zest are prized for the flavor they add to many desserts and savory dishes, but the waxes and chemicals that are routinely applied to these fruits are not. For this reason, I only use the zest of organic, unsprayed citrus fruit. The zest is the thin colored outer skin of the rind. The white pith underneath this skin is very bitter and should never be used. Zest is easily removed with a citrus zester and to make finely minced zest, use a microplane zester.
  • If organic oranges are not available, or you don’t want to pick one up for whatever reason, use citrus oil instead. My favorite oils are by Boyajian. Do not confuse these oils with citrus extracts, which I find medicinal tasting. This is, of course, my opinion, and you can decide for yourself. I’m interested to know your opinion about extracts vs. oils, organic vs non-organic.


§  One of my “rules” remains the same: Use any chocolate you like to taste as long as you stay within the percentage of chocolate listed in the recipe. If not, the ganache is likely not to set up properly.

§  The truffle recipe is easily doubled. If you are making a larger quantity of truffles, it’s easiest to roll the ganache into balls and freeze them until icy cold, before shaping the balls into logs and rolling in sesame seeds. Over time, I have decided I prefer the taste of the natural seeds but you may like the black ones.

§  If your tahini is on the thin side, you may need to add a little more melted chocolate. As I write in almost every one of my truffles, creams and gels and frosting recipes, test the final result early on. Here’s how to test the consistency:

  • A properly made truffle ganache is firm enough to scoop and shape but still tastes creamy. Dip a spoon into the ganache. Set the coated spoon on a small plate, and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. After chilling, the ganache on the spoon should be smooth and firm enough to shape. If it is too thick, add a little more liquid and if too thin, add a little more melted chocolate. Repeat the test.


Are you going to make these Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles for the holidays? I hope so. And now, for the recipe:

Chocolate Orange Sesame Truffles

The ganache will not look smooth when it is liquid. The truffles will be creamy – luscious.
Makes 20 to 24 (1-inch) truffles


  • 4 ounces dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped
  • Finely minced zest of half a medium organic orange
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1⁄4 cup agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon raw or roasted tahini, stirred
  • 3 tablespoons natural sesame seeds, lightly toasted or use black or mix half/ half

1. Put the chocolate into a small heatproof bowl.

2. Mix the orange zest and juice and agave in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just to a boil.

3. Reduce the heat to low and add the tahini, whisking vigorously. The mixture will thicken immediately. Do not be concerned if it looks broken or curdled. It will smooth out as you whisk. Simmer the mixture for 30 seconds until it is shiny and smooth. Remove from the heat.

4. Wait about 30 seconds until the mixture is no longer steaming and pour it over the chocolate. Cover the bowl with a plate. Wait 1 minute and then stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Remember: the ganache will not be perfectly smooth.

5. Cool to room temperature, stirring a few times with a silicone spatula.

6. Spoon into a small shallow container and refrigerate uncovered for about 2 hours until the ganache is firm. The ganache can be covered and refrigerated at this point for up to 1 week.

Make the truffle centers

1. Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. Use a spoon to scoop out 1-inch pieces of ganache and another to push the ganache off the spoon into the container. When half the ganache has been used, roll the pieces into logs about 1 inch long, washing and drying your hands as needed. (If at any time the ganache becomes too soft to shape, refrigerate until cold and proceed.) Cover and refrigerate the truffle centers for 15 to 25 minutes to set for before shaping and finishing with the sesame seed coating.

2. Put the sesame seeds in a small bowl. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons on the bottom of a shallow container. Put a few logs at a time into the bowl of sesame seeds and roll until lightly coated. Pinch the ends to form the oval quenelle shapes. Place the finished truffles in the refrigerator to set for 35 to 45 minutes.

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This recipe is from Vegan Chocolate (Running Press; November 5, 2013; $30.00/Hardcover; ISBN-13; 978-0762445912), by Fran Costigan.

Fran Costigan is an internationally recognized culinary instructor, recipe developer, and innovative vegan pastry chef, and the author of three cookbooks. A graduate of the New York Restaurant School and the Natural Gourmet Institute, Fran was a pastry chef in both traditional and vegan restaurant kitchens. Today Fran teaches her distinctive courses (including her Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive®) in her hometown of New York City at the Institute of Culinary Education and at the Natural Gourmet Institute and at major events throughout North America and Europe.

For more about Fran, please visit her on facebooktwitter or on her website:

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