Posted on 11 July 2017
I’ll admit I didn’t know what a loquat was until I moved to a home in Culver City that has a large, beautiful loquat tree. Our tree is lush with fruit and I’ve delighted in making batches of jam to both enjoy at home and share with friends.
Loquats look similar to apricots but are slightly oblong and abundant with seeds. I’ve since learned they are originally native to China, populate many Asian and other countries, and are referred to as the Chinese or Japanese plum.
I was curious about their origin in Los Angeles so did some digging and found an article from the OC Weekly. Loquats were farmed by horticulturalist Charles Parker Taft in 1891, who also popularized avocados (thank you Taft!). Loquats were expected to surpass oranges in popularity; however, loquats are a very delicate fruit making them difficult to transport, and they contain a high ratio of seeds to flesh making them less economical.
Since learning about loquats, I can’t help but spot the trees all over Los Angeles. I even learned recently that my dad has one growing in his backyard. Once you learn to spot these trees, I guarantee you’ll start noticing them everywhere in L.A. Offer to help pick your neighbor’s tree in exchange for a bag or two. Loquat trees have a high yield and your neighbors will be grateful for your offer.
Recently an old friend of mine contacted me with a request to send him chocolates of my choice. I decided to use this opportunity to experiment with a loquat truffle.
First I had to make the jam. I filled a large bag full of loquats and spent a couple of hours prepping them – rinsing, unseeding, and tearing them into chunks. I had about 10 pounds of loquats ready to be cooked. I made it a point to add some slightly under-ripe loquats to the batch because I wanted the contrast of tart and sweet. I added sugar and let it cook down.
After canning them, I began experimenting. Because loquats are a pale orange, I decided to decorate the chocolate molds with orange cocoa butter. The swirl feels very whimsical and fun to me.
I decided to make a dark milk chocolate ganache. Milk chocolate is typically too sweet for my taste, and I like the bitterness the darker chocolate lends. After cooking down the jam more and folding it into the buttery ganache, the result is a rich, slightly sweet truffle with a hint of fruity tanginess that I quite like.
This batch is for my friend, who happens to own an avocado farm. I’m hoping this delicious truffle earns me an invite soon.