These hazelnut praline truffles could be served on their own at any time of the year but are an excellent Christmas treat. You could use dark, milk or white chocolate for the coating, or a mixture of all three. Personally, I find that milk chocolate works best in complementing the hazelnuts for the ganache.The praline truffles recipe is from Paloma Banks, who came up with this recipe as she needed to make some chocolates to fill the advent calendar she had made. It's got quite a few steps, and it does benefit from some refrigeration, so best make this a day or so in advance and store chilled up you are ready to enjoy them.
- 600 g quality milk chocolate (finely chopped)
- 200 g hazelnuts (ideally skinless)
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 125 g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp hazelnut or walnut oil
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- If you don't manage to find skinless nuts, you will need to remove the skins. This can be done by placing them in a clean tea towel and rolling them around inside it with your hands, this should remove most of the skins and you will then just need to pick out the skinned nuts.
- Have a baking tray lined with baking parchment to hand.
- By roasting the hazelnuts on a gentle heat you will make the hazelnut praline. Ensure you keep a close eye on them – they burn very quickly and if they are even slightly burnt it will make the praline will become bitter. You want the hazelnuts to turn a light golden brown.
- Once this is done, place the sugar and roughly the same amount of water in a saucepan to make the caramel, heat the mixture gently until it starts to bubble, stir slowly at first to make sure the water and sugar is mixed and then leave it to bubble, without touching the mixture, until it turns a golden brown colour.
- When the sugar water caramelises, remove the pan from the heat.
- Mix in the hazelnuts and quickly stir through (the caramel will start to set very quickly) before emptying the mixture on to a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
- When the mixture is dry – which won’t take long, depending on how thinly you spread your mixture – break it into smaller pieces and blend in a food processor. The mixture should almost certainly be dry in much less than half an hour.
- Blend to a coarse, uneven mix for a few seconds, and remove a tablespoon or so of the mixture and set aside for later.
- Blend the rest until smooth, slowly adding the oil bit by bit. You want to keep the mixture fairly solid, as it will need to be shaped into balls, so you may not need to add all the oil.
- When this is done, melt half the chocolate in a bain-marie, or in the microwave, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn, then mix the chocolate into the praline mixture, ensuring everything is well combined.
- Add the butter (melting it gently first to help it mix in) and icing sugar. Stir and make sure everything is combined. The mixture will need to be chilled probably over night, or at least for a good few hours.
- When it is hardened, using a teaspoon and your hands, shape into small truffle sized balls. Place each ball on another baking tray lined with baking parchment, and when you have finished, put back in the fridge (it is easier to work with truffles when they are colder so they don’t melt in your hands), while you temper the chocolate for the coating. The easiest way to do this is with the microwave.
- Place about half the reserved chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and heat on a medium setting. After a minute or so add the rest of the chocolate and stir through. Heat for another 30 seconds, stir, then heat until all the chocolate has melted. This method ensures the chocolate will have a shiny finish. It can be achieved in a bain-marie, but involves pouring the chocolate out and moving it around with a spatula.
- Remove the pralines from the fridge and allow the melted chocolate to cool for a minute. Then dab a little on the fingers on both hands, pick up a ball and coat it with chocolate using your hands. I find this is easier than using the fork and dipping method, and gives a really pretty textured finish.
- Sprinkle a little of the reserved praline mixture over each truffle and allow to cool.