Both/And not Either/Or… Black Olive Chocolate Truffles

This weekend a brilliant new exhibition opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London –   Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990. I’ve written before about the challenges of teaching English literature undergraduates about postmodernism. Ask them what it is and they’re more likely to say what it isn’t. The V and A’s entrancing exhibition makes it all clear.

The postmodern architect Robert Venturi, designer of the Sainsbury wing at London’s National Gallery, cleverly captured his concept of postmodernism, describing it as ‘both, and‘ rather than boring old ‘either, or‘. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a notion to glory in. Instead of choosing one or the other, you combine both.

The perfect postmodern edible version of ‘both, and‘ has to be black olive and chocolate truffles. I’ve just been invited by Olives from Spain to watch the Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy cook tapas dishes with olives. Omar trained with Ferran Adria at elBulli, so is most definitely a ‘both, and‘ kind of cook. I particularly loved his flash fried sea bass with sherry, garlic, sweet red peppers, black olives and caper berries. But the postmodern stars of the evening were his black olive and chocolate truffles. Building on the idea that salt enhances caramel, he figured that the salty flavour of olives could only make chocolate better. Here is his recipe, which I found made around 35 truffles:


  • 150g pitted black olives
  • 150g double cream
  • 220g best quality chocolate – 70% cocoa solids
  • 40 grams butter, cut into small pieces
  • Finely grated zest of one orange
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Process the drained black olives to a rough paste. Heat the double cream over a low heat and just before it reaches boiling point, remove from the heat. Break up the chocolate and add to the cream. When the chocolate has melted, add the black olives, butter and zest and stir to combine thoroughly. Place the bowl in the fridge for around 6 or 7 hours. When the mixture is firm, scoop out small quantities with a dessert spoon and roll in your hands to make truffles. Roll the truffles in a bowl of cocoa powder.

The finished truffles are creamy, delicately salty and rather delicious. But in case you’re thinking that a black olive chocolate truffle is a step too far – and that’s certainly the view of my children who refused point-blank to try them – think of them this way. The olives not only make the truffles cheaper to make, they also make them healthier to eat. Now if that isn’t the perfect embodiment of ‘both, and‘, I don’t know what is. And if the French chocolatier-patissier Pierre Herme can make macarons flavoured with foie gras as well as a grapefruit and wasabi version, how can anyone recoil in panic from olives and chocolate?


  1. oh wonderful insights!! do you think it works w little niceoise olives that were marinated in basil and garlic?? hmmm..

  2. They are so easy Fiona, and cheap too. I've been trying to encourage my children to make them for Christmas presents, but you can imagine their reactions.

  3. I don't like the idea of olives in chocolate but when you said healthier, it got my attention. If you can't taste the olives, I might give it a try.

  4. Post-modern truffles, that's pretty original and from the sound of it easy and cheap(ish) to make, and delicious. They look good in your photos too.

  5. You're right, Jakey… easy and cheap(ish) as well as delicious. And as far as I'm concerned they're definitely postmodern too….

  6. Wow! They sound fab. Ironically my five year old will probably love them (favourite food lobster and caviar!) but my sons (early twenties) won't be so sure. I'm going to do a blind tasting next weekend, just to see.

  7. Do let me know the results of the blind tasting. I made the huge mistake of telling my children the ingredients first!

  8. My girls like olives and chocolate – but combined? I don't think I'd believe anyone else…will try both on your recommendation 🙂

  9. Rather like postmodernism, even if you hate the truffles they will at least be interesting… although that sounds more like 'either, or' rather than 'both, and' 🙂

  10. Quite frankly, these sound fan-freakin-tastic. But then this comes from the girl who's made camembert truffles before. 😉 (Yup, huge fan of the salty-sweet combo).

  11. I would like those truffles, as I like salt with sweet, and I would love the exhibition at the V and A too…..I am back in London on the 25th October onwards, so maybe I will still catch it.

  12. I thought the exhibition was curated brilliantly, Karen – let me know what you think, if you go… And if you make the truffles too, of course.

  13. Astonishing! But, then, I adore salted caramels and chocolate-covered salted pretzels. You make it sound so sensible to take that next step to Olives and Chocolate. The event sounds like it was fascinating and I am intrigued by the concept of "both" – which I must say is not that foreign to my way of life. The truffles look incredible! I must try these!

  14. Very interesting way of summing up postmodernism – the concept of both: doric columns AND a Japanese Zen garden? Whyever not ;o) I could not make this event – was so disappointed. The truffles sound totally intriguing, especially to a long-time fan of the sweet and salty combo (starting with my love for marmite AND apricot jam sandwiches as a child. Fact!)

  15. How delicious they look and mouthwatering they sound. Well done Charlie, another triumph of a recipe. When will a book be published….what a treat that would be? AJ

  16. I agree with you Lora – olives have to be one of the most versatile foods around and they're even good for you too.

I'd love to know what you think - do leave a comment