It was a hard job, but somebody had to do it

For all of the elaborate permutations of and interpretations on chocolate that exist there’s still no truer test of a chocolate maker's skills than the basic truffle. It’s yet more evidence that the greatest things in life are also often the least complicated. That’s why, for the first iteration of this ongoing series, one that will put the best this city has to offer to the test each month, we’ve gathered a sampling of truffles from Vancouver’s finest chocolatiers and given them over to our three expert judges. Try not to be too jealous. If you're interested in some behind-the-scenes action, check out what our judges had to say here. And the winner is ... Beta5Beta5 This received the highest marks on technical execution, but it was nearly as popular for its flavor, which featured a nutty undertone that reminded the judges of an upscale riff on a Coffee Crisp bar. “They’ve done a really beautiful job on it,” Williams says. “That one, I’d be proud of.” Beta5, 413 Industrial Ave., 604-669-3336; Screen Shot 2016-02-19 At 12.25.43 PMAnd the runners up are ... (alphabetically)  ChocolaTasChocolaTas This creamy 67% dark chocolate ganache was universally praised by the judges for its superior crafts-manship and the rich flavours it delivered. ChocolaTas, 1689 Johnston St., 877-668-8932 ChocolateartsChocolate Arts Their entry, a minimalist dark chocolate ball dusted with bitter cocoa powder and filled with sweet chocolate ganache, impressed with its balance and execution. Chocolate Arts, 1620 W. Third Ave., 604-739-0475 ChristopheChez Christophe This one’s the outlier of the bunch, a delicious chocolate truffle dusted with white chocolate whose slight but still perceptible foot had one judge commenting that it looked a bit like a Death Star. A branding opportunity, perhaps? Chez Christophe, 4712 Hastings St., Burnaby 604-428-4200 GemchocolateGem Chocolates A gorgeous hard shell—similar to its Monarch truffle—surrounds a soft and smooth ganache interior. Visually, this one stands out from the pack. Gem Chocolates, 2029 W. 41st Ave., 604-263-9878 PurdysPurdy's It’s tough to achieve perfection when you’re cranking out so much volume every day, but Purdy’s does an admirable job of balancing the two imperatives. This one will keep on the shelf and still please your palate. Purdy's, multiple locations, 888-478-7397 TemperTemper Chocolate & Pastry Thomas Haas’s protégé, Dundarave’s own Steven Hodge, has created a simple but elegant truffle with a crisp shell and ganache that has a sweet, almost fruity flavor profile. Temper, 2409 Marine Dr., West Vancouver, 604-281-1152 ThomasHaasThomas Haas The renowned and respected master doesn’t disappoint with this simple but sublime presentation of fudgy ganache that finished in a very, very close second. Thomas Haas, 2539 W. Broadway, 604-736-1848   The Judges Pam Williams, founder of Ecole Chocolate Professional School of Chocolate Arts Peter Van de Reep, bar manager at Campagnolo restaurants Stacey McLachlan, associate editor of Western Living, editor of WL Condo