Posts Tagged ‘making caramel at home’

We’ve been experimenting in the kitchen (testing recipes for Christmas!), and I was keen to see if we could make some praline with our newly discovered skinned roasted hazelnuts.

This is one of those recipes that is both easy and hard at the same time.

There are very few ingredients involved, but like all candymaking it involves judgment and timing, and a gentle, cautious touch.  Overcook the caramel by  a few seconds (literally), and it will scorch.  Stir too vigorously, and you could end up with a bad sugar burn.

Of course, I’ve injured myself more than once in the process, so Pete now makes all the praline in our house.  I play prep chef – I measure ingredients, chop nuts, grease trays…and hop from one foot to another in excitement as the sugar browns.  Here are Pete’s detailed instructions.

Hazelnut Praline
(based on a recipe from Carole Bloom’s Truffles, Candies & Confections)

  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts

1. Using a little vegetable oil, grease a pyrex pie plate, making sure to coat well around the bottom edge (to ensure you can lever the finished praline out, if necessary).  Bloom’s original instructions are to oil a 9″ round cake pan.

2. Chop the hazelnuts up into small chunks and have them on hand, ready to add to the caramel.

3. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and cook over a high heat. Stir gently until the sugar is dissolved, and then continue to boil without stirring.

4. Keep cooking, never taking your eyes off the caramel, until it turns a light golden brown. It may start to brown unevenly – if that happens, you might need to give the pan a gentle swirl.  Bloom recommends brushing the sides of the pan down with warm water to prevent sugar crystals forming, but Pete never bothers with that.

This is the point where you need to exercise judgment – Pete was aiming for a slightly darker caramel this time, but it will also work at a lighter colour than shown below.

Pete wanted me to let you know that the caramel can go from just starting to brown to burnt in a few seconds.  You’ll need to act quickly when it’s ready, but also very carefully, as it will be blazing hot and quite dangerous!

5. Turn the heat off and quickly stir in the hazelnuts – the caramel will start to set straight away.  You will have about five seconds to stir in the hazelnuts before the mixture stiffens, and then another few seconds to get it out of the saucepan.

6. Quickly, but carefully, pour the mixture into the greased plate and flatten it out as much as possible with a spatula. Allow to cool completely before lifting it off and breaking into pieces as desired.

The finished praline is delicious eaten straight, but of course, I had to chop some up and try it in a chocolate bar.  I paired it with Callebaut 811 (54%) – a sweeter dark chocolate than I would normally use, but the perfect complement to the darker caramel flavour!

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