Here is a staple in my list of dessert ingredients. It can be added to almost any dessert and instantly make it gourmet like. I got so many responses when I posted my chestnut spread (another basic component that can do so much in a dessert) and yesterday when I storied my praline paste that I decided to post the recipe and add to my “umami ingredients for desserts” series.
First, let’s answer the question “what is praline”? You can have praline in many formats but it basically comes down to sugar and nuts. That’s it folks. It’s what adds the yum in nutella, you can mix it with chocolate to get a luxurious gianduja paste and so on… So, praline paste (the stuff that costs a fortune at your local pastry supply store) is essentially nuts that have been cooked in sugar (there are many different ways of doing that) and processed until a smooth paste is obtained.
It is true that the most common nuts used to do this are hazelnuts but you can make a praline paste with any nuts your heart desires. The traditional French praline paste is made with a mixture of almonds and hazelnuts. Some chefs roast the nuts first and then candy them, some don’t. I personally have tried many different methods and recipes and this is the one I prefer. Please keep in mind that the homemade paste will never be as smooth as the store bought but I rather enjoy the added texture.
- 200 g almonds
- 200 g hazelnuts (you can use them with the skins)
- 50 mL water
- 250 g sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Place water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar has melted, put in the nuts and stir. The mixture will crystalize but continue cooking and it will melt again and take on a golden color. In this process the nuts will cook with the sugar. Be careful not to burn the sugar, so make sure it doesn’t happen to fast. Lower the heat if need be. Once the sugar is melted again, and golden, spread the mixture on a silicone mat or parchment lined baking sheet and let cool completely before braking into piece and placing in a blender. Grind until a smooth paste is achieved.