Two things are called truffles.  One is the fruiting body of the subterranean Ascomycete fungus, a lumpy black nugget which pigs are trained to snout out in exchange for small treats.  The other is a delightful ball of ganache dusted in cocoa powder or dipped in molten chocolate.  The latter is called a truffle because it resembles the former in appearance only.  It has at no point during its creation anything to do with fungi or pigs.  The finest chocolate truffles in the world are made by Just Truffles at 1363 Grand Ave, St. Paul.

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Just Truffles began in the 80’s when Kathleen O’Hehir-Johnson read a particularly compelling truffle recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine.  Kathleen set about making her first batch of truffles, and she loved the result.  The chocolate muse was there that night, however.  She told Kathleen that she should make better truffles than Good Housekeeping could ever conceive.

Kathleen obeyed and toyed around with cream and chocolate and other things in her Crocus Hill kitchen until she invented something truly wonderful.  They were manna.  Kathleen began bringing her unique truffles to her coworkers at the airport, and they thoroughly approved of them.  She was the best kind of coworker.

Encouraged, Kathleen rented a commercial kitchen and began making a lot of truffles.  Kathleen’s big breakthrough came when esteemed Minnesotan food writer Eleanor Ostman tried one of her truffles at a holiday party.  Sparks flew.  Eleanor reached out to her friends at The Saint Paul Hotel and told them that it just wouldn’t do until they anchored Kathleen right there.

So Kathleen moved into The Saint Paul Hotel in 1990 and delighted their guests with truffles the likes of which they’d never tasted before.  Lionel Richie had Kathleen’s truffles.  Marie Osmond had Kathleen’s truffles.  Bill Murray had Kathleen’s truffles.  Suspend your disbelief — Luciano Pavarotti had Kathleen’s truffles and loved them, so he requested a special coconut truffle just for himself.  Kathleen could never disappoint any of The Three Tenors, let alone Pavarotti himself, so she obliged by creating the Tenor’s Temptation, a milk chocolate, Malibu rum, and cream of coconut delicacy.  Pavarotti soundly approved.  The Tenor’s Temptation remains Just Truffles’ signature creation to this day.

Kathleen relocated Just Truffles to their current Grand Avenue location in 1999.  There she continued making truffles as she always had before, free from preservatives and wax, handmade and dipped in molten chocolate, and sublime.  Business boomed.  When in 2003 Oprah Winfrey declared Kathleen’s truffles the best in the country, and by extension the world, business boomed even more.  Today the boom is still deafening.  Just Truffles’ truffles reign supreme.

Just Truffles offers over 40 varieties of truffle.  They have Just Chocolate, their most popular truffle.  They have Key Lime, made with real juice from the Florida Keys and perfect for your little dears.  They have Maple Nut, Amaretto, Cafe au Lait, Creme de Menthe, Raspberry, Lemon Cheesecake, Plum Wine, Pears William, S’mores, Bananas Foster, English Toffee, Champagne, and Peppermint Crunch, to name only a few more.  They have it all.  

Just Truffles’ truffles are the essence of the holidays, and they have three seasonal exclusives that ought not to be missed.  The Cranberry is made with a fresh cranberry ganache and coated in silky white chocolate.  The Gingerbread is made with a milk chocolate ganache and fastened with three edible buttons, like a gingerbread man should be.  The Eggnog is all white chocolate, infused with that creamy ichor and sprinkled with a dusting of white nutmeg.  These and all of Just Truffles’ delicious specialties are available in festive gift-wrapped boxes, the ideal present for anyone in the world.

Some people say that life is short.  Others say life is incredibly long, and that it just seems short in comparison to things which last far longer.  No matter how long life is, however, there would never be enough time for truffles.


By David Scheller