Praline powder, ground fine or coarse has a delicious nutty and caramel flavour and is an essential item in the pastry kitchen. It is used in ice creams, mousses, soufflés, cakes, icings, sweet sauces, biscuits and creams.
Rory says: "It can be sprinkled over seasonal berries or scattered over peaches or nectarines before or after roasting. I sometimes just fold it into softly whipped cream to serve with a chocolate cake or pudding. Its uses are too varied to list them all.
"Some of the same rules apply here as when you are making caramel. The sugar is cooked with the nuts to a deep chestnut colour, though this time without any water, so high temperatures are achieved and that calls for caution for yourself and any others who may be around you when you are preparing this recipes.
The praline keeps for several weeks in a sealed container."
- Un-skinned almonds have more flavour than the pre-skinned variety
- 110 g un-skinned almonds
- 110 g granulated sugar
- Line a baking sheet or tray with parchment paper or a heatproof non-stick baking mat or a light brushing of a bland oil such as sunflower.
- Place the sugar and almonds in a heavy low sided saucepan and put on a medium heat. Slowly the sugar will heat, melt and start to caramelize. This will not happen evenly and using a wooden spoon you will have to gently push the almonds around the pot as the sugar caramelizes. The almonds will start to make a cracking sound as they get roasted in the sugar.
- When all of the sugar is a rich chestnut colour, quickly coat the nuts in the caramel and immediately turn them out on to the prepared tray. The cooking time will have been about 10 minutes. Do not touch the mixture with your bare hands under any circumstance as the caramel will be molten and lava like. If you wish to draw a few individual almonds aside from the bulk of it to be used as a decoration, do it now with the aid of a fork before the mixture sets into a solid slab. Allow to cool completely and it will set into a solid slab.
- Break the slab of praline into small coarse pieces and grind a few pieces at a time to the powder of choice in a food processor. I use the pulse button so I can control the size of the grind more accurately. It is also worth saying that the sound of the praline being ground is very loud and you may think you will damage your machine, but I have ground a lot of praline in my time and have never found this to be the case.
- Store in a sealed container in a dry place.
- Like almonds, hazelnuts bought with their skins still attached will have more flavour than pre-skinned ones
- 110g hazelnut
- 110g granulated sugar
- Preheat an oven to 180c / 350f / gas 4.
- Place the hazelnuts on a roasting tray and roast for about 15 minutes until the skins are starting to lift and flake and the nuts are golden brown.
- Remove the tray from the oven and allow the nuts to cool.
- Place the cold nuts in a clean kitchen towel, gather up the edges of the towel and rub the base of the towel on the palm of your hand to loosen the skins as much as possible. You will not get off every last piece of skin off, and that is fine.
- Proceed to cook the skinned almonds and sugar as for the almond praline recipe.