Brrrrrr it is freezing in Vancouver. The city has been hit with minus temperatures this week and to top it of more snow will be coming tonight and tomorrow. Yippee more snow to welcome the holiday season. With approx 1 week left to go, the city has gone into full swing with decorations and festivities. One of the rich traditions is the Gingerbread Town held at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver. Every year participants create wonderful masterpieces and display them in the hotel.
During the holiday season, I tend to bake alot for friends and family. For the last couple of weeks or so, I have been flipping through recipes to see what I can make. Well I stopped at praline again. Nothing brings more joy to my heart than to see the perfectly coated glistening nuts. It makes my heart sing as friends and I munch on the sweet and crunchy morsel. A good accompaniment to chocolate. I decided to create caramelized parline hedgehogs.
To make the caralized Gianduja
First toast some nuts until golden. Note: do not over toast them as they will have a bitter taste. Then make the simple syrup by boiling the water with sugar. Once the sugar mixture comes to the rolling boil add the nuts and stir. Keep mixing. As the syrup boils the water will evaporate leaving the sugar coating the nuts. Eventually the water will boil off leaving the sugar crystals coating the nuts.
It will look granular and coarse but not to worry, this is the process of making sugar coated nuts. Keep stirring and mixing until the left over sugar crystal caramelizes and have coated the nuts entirely. Remove from heat and spread out on silicone mat to cool.
Once the praline has cooled a bit place into food processor to grind to a paste. In the beginning it will look like chopped nuts but eventually it will become a paste.
Melt the milk chocolate and dark chocolate and add to mixture. Once the praline/chocolate has been mixed well. Pour onto silicone mould for setting.
To make the chocolates
First melt some milk chocolate, temper it and fill into chocolate hedgehog molds. Pipe the praline into the molds and set. Finally fill the chocolate.
150 g almonds lightly roasted
150 g hazelnuts lightly roasted
150 g caster sugar
50 ml water
150 bittersweet chcocolate
150 g milk chocolate
Results: This is a very good recipe for making hedgehogs. The praline although time consuming was excellent.
Christmas is around the corner. The city gets prettier and prettier each coming year with Christmas decorations around every corner and in every department store there is Christmas songs playing. Christmas would not be Christmas without snow and we are blessed as snow is on the mountains.
It has been almost 4 months without posting and now is the time as never to post as it is Christmas time!!! I have been busy with work and school and now that I have finished my final mid-term I am free till the final exam. I recently bought a book, “Chocolate,” from my favourite pastry chef Pierre Herme and flipping through its mouth watering pages I stopped at some of his chocolate recipes. I have always loved the taste of pistachio and matcha but am curious how they would work together. IMHO, Pierre Herme used the flavour combination so it can’t be so bad heheheh. Off I went to make the recipe.
To make the ganache, I first measured the ingredients. Herme mentioned to combine the chocolate together with the matcha and then pour the hot cream on it the mixture; however, how will that melt (for lack of better word) the matcha? You would get granules of matcha. Instead, I combined the cream together with the matcha and heated it up. Once heated up pour onto the chocolate and whisk out from the middle. Cool and set the mixture when it is homogenized.
Pierre Hermes truffles called for roasted pistachios thankfully I had some in the fridge. The ganache was quite soft hence after I scooped it out I froze them for a firmer texture to be rolled into chocolate. Once they were more firm, they were rolled in melted chocolate twice and on the third time coated with roasted pistachios.
200 g whole pistachios skinned
Milk Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Ganache
95 g butter
610 g milk chocolate 45% cocoa ( I used Valhrona Jivara)
30 g matcha green tea power
600 g cream
Result: This is an interesting combination. The ganache is not that sweet and has a hint of bitterness. However when combined with the enrobbed chocolate it becomes sweet. To top it off one get the roasted pistachios flavouring with the matcha. I would suggest this recipe for matcha lovers.
Let the holiday baking begin.
Summer is almost gone as the evenings are cooler and the sun sets at an earlier time. I am back from basking in the sun. Looking at my book pile, I finally realized that I have collected a huge pile of them. As I flipped the pages of recipes, I landed on the White Chocolate and Almond truffles by Will Torrent. As I was making them I realize the recipe called for butter. In the beginning I did not realize butter’s part in the recipe, then the obvious came out at me. The added butter increases the smoothness of the chocolate.
When baking or making with chocolate, do not put water in the ganache as it will seize up and nothing can be done with it. Making sure of that tip, I went ahead in making the ganache. Once they are all piped, I let them chill. While the middle was chilling, nuts were toasted and grounded. They were the coating for the chocolate. Making sure the almonds were toasted to the right level, I then took out the chilled ganache and dipped them in the tempered white chocolate and almond for decoration.
White Chocolate and Almond Truffles (Adapted from Will Torrent)
100 ml/scant 1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp butter
a pinch of salt
550 g white chocolate chopped
250 g almonds
Result these were the best truffles I tasted; they were extraordinary. The texture was smooth and to be enhanced by the toasted almonds… wowwww. I am surely going to be keeping this for either birthdays or holidays. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
As one could see I had an amazing long weekend filled with festivities. Normally I would write about it but as they say, a pictures worth a thousand words.
To top it off, I made chocolates again. Being enamored with chocolate from the very beginning. I always sought out ways to better improve myself thus I decided to toast the nuts and sesame seeds for a even better pronounced flavor. I also grounded up some freeze dried berries as well. The ganache was white chocolate rolled with an assorted of nuts and berries. What did I get? A colourful flavourful array of white chocolate truffles. Yum. 🙂
Toppings: Black Sesame, Almond, Coconut, Pistachio, Strawberry and Raspberry.
Looking forward to the rest of this long weekend.
With the extra time this weekend, I decided to make another treat. My family had always loved crunchy nut pralines and since I had some extra sesame lying around, I decided to use it. As an extra bonus, I got to make it for future dessert decorations as well. I found the recipe from a french blog and was impressed by the other recipes the blog contained as well.
To make the nougatine, I first combined the sugar, water, honey and brought it to a rolling boil. Using a electronic thermometer, I took the mixture off the heat once the temperature reached 115C. I immediately added the butter and the sesames,by doing so, it stopped the cooking process. Once the mixture has cooled, I spooned the mixture into silicone molds and baked it at 350F or 180C for about 15-17 minutes. As a caution, position the rack to the lower half of the oven as I got burnt sesame nougatine for the 1st batch. When the nougatine was golden colour, I set it to cool. Bernard also suggested doing a gianduja filling for the sesame nougatine crisps but I opted out as I thought it would be too sweet; however, it gave me confident that should I need to make any nougatine chocolates in the future,I now have a foundation. As for the taste, it is basically the same as the sesame crisps you see outside but homemade instead.
Sesame Nougatine (Recipe found here)
100 g of sugar
100 g of glucose syrup (I used honey)
25 g water
110 g white sesame
20 g of butter
As for the Gianduja
160 g hazelnut paste
55 g of dark chocolate
Note: I assume this recipe can also be used for ground almonds for almond nougatine. Enjoy, a light sweet snack or candy.