Make your own hazelnut praline and use it to decorate your cakes and desserts.
Yesterday was not a good day in the kitchen. I had in mind a fabulous chocolate and ricotta tart adorned with golden, crunchy praline but sadly it didn’t quite turn out as I planned. My ‘lovely’ homemade tart neither tasted good, nor looked good so for me it’s back to the drawing board on that one. The only successful element of the dish was the hazelnut praline so here is an abbreviated post on how to make the praline.
You can of course make praline with any nut, even salted nuts. If your nuts still have the skin on then they should be removed first. Although this process doesn’t take very long it can be a bit messy. My advice is to always buy skinned nuts if you can.
The next stage is roasting the nuts. Should you, shouldn’t you? Again – this is a quick process so I would say yes. I believe the nuts taste better for having been roasted and the whole process only adds an additional 10 minutes.
The next stage is the caramel. All I can say is have everything ready before you start. If you focus only on the caramel, you should come out with a gorgeous batch of liquid gold. If not – try again. It’s worth it!
You can use praline in so many ways. Thin shards of praline can look beautiful on a cake or dessert. The only downside to the shards is that they don’t keep well. Unfortunately, caramel does not like moisture so it soon becomes sticky if left out for too long. Personally, I like to blitz the shards in a food processor. I then use the mixture to sprinkle on cakes, ice cream or desserts.
You can also make praline paste. All you have to do is carry on with the blitzing process until the oil from the nuts starts to separate out. At this point you can add an extra tablespoon of nut or vegetable oil to the mixture and carry on blitzing until you have a thick paste. If you then add some melted chocolate you will end up with your own homemade Nutella.
Lay nuts out on a baking tray and have another baking tray ready for when they come out the oven.
Place in the oven for 5 minutes.
Remove tray and move nuts around. (This will avoid hot spots).
Place back in the oven for another 3 minutes.
Check again - the nuts should have darkened slightly and smell 'nutty'.
If you think they can take another couple of minutes without burning then do so but watch carefully.
Remove from oven and transfer to the cool baking sheet.
If your nuts still had the skin on then now is the time to remove them. Place the nuts in a plastic bag and roll your hand over the bag vigorously until the skins peel off.
Place the cleaned and roasted nuts in a bowl next to the stove top.
To make the caramel
Line a baking tray with baking parchment and leave next to the stove top.
Place the sugar and water in a pan. Stir until all the sugar is coated with the water.
Turn the heat on to medium and stir until the sugar melts. Do not let the mixture come to the boil before the sugar has melted.
Once the sugar has melted, leave the mixture to bubble away on it's own. Every now and again swirl the pot to redistribute the mixture. If you stir with a spoon the mixture will crystallise and be ruined.
Eventually the mixture will start to colour. As soon as it reaches a golden caramel colour, remove from the heat and tip the nuts in. (Mine takes about 6 minutes to reach this stage).
Working quickly, pour the mixture out on to your baking tray and spread out thinly using a wooden spoon.
Leave to set.
Break into shards using a rolling pin and use as is or blitz into smaller pieces using a food processor.
Do not be tempted to touch the caramel with your fingers - it is HOT, HOT, HOT.
If you end up with a pot of hard caramel just place some clean water into the pot and place back on the stove top and heat until the caramel melts. It should then be easy to clean.
I’m slowly managing to clear out my fridge and cupboards of all the little luxury items that were leftover from Christmas. The odd chocolate here and there has been disposed of (ok, so I’ve eaten them), leftover stuffing was turned into sausage rolls, half a packet of peanuts resulted in some delicious chocolate peanut butter bars and we’ve also had our fair share of soup using up all the veggies. What I found today was half a wedge of Brie lingering at the back of the cheese drawer. Now as much as I love Brie, it feels somewhat indulgent to sit down to cheese and biscuits in the middle of January. I feel far more virtuous combining it with some veg and turning it into a lovely courgette and brie soup. The flavour of the brie is quite subtle but what it does give is a gorgeous creamy texture to the soup. I normally add just a touch of cumin powder when I serve it up but that may not be to everyone’s taste. It may not be one for the kids but then all the more for us.
Well My Golden Pear has had a good start to the New Year. My January rating for Foodies 100 was high enough to push me into the top 500 blogs (just) which is a first for me and a great incentive to carry on. My blog is purely a hobby but I use it to push myself to try new and interesting recipes and most of all it gives me a great subject with which to practice and improve my photography. In January last year I set myself a goal to take part in some of the blogging challenges out there and I’m so glad I did. It is a great way to get involved in the food blogging community and I have tried and discovered so many new things as a result of some of the themes that have been set for us. I look forward to all the new and exciting themes for 2014.
Today’s recipe is not a new one to me but it is deliciously tasty and so easy and fits in perfectly with two of my favourite monthly challenges. Succulent chicken thighs are coated in a mixture of breadcrumbs, cheese, paprika and garlic and baked until golden and crispy. A grownup version of chicken nuggets, I guess. You don’t get much sauce with this dish so I normally serve with a mushroom sauce and veggies.
I am not one for making New Year resolutions but I have set myself a goal to try and be more organised this year. Ever since having the kids I have struggled to get my life as organised as it was pre children. My husband is always telling me to write things down – so this year I will heed his advice and make lists, lists and more lists. Eight days into January and how am I doing with my newly organised life? Well not so great to be honest. After getting the kids up early on Monday and ready for school I found out at the last minute that I had written down the wrong date on my calendar and they were only due back to school on the Tuesday. Yesterday I went off to school with a list of things that I needed to ask at the school office but left the list in the car and promptly forgot half of what was on the list. Today I set off for town with my list of things to be done but had to turn back halfway as all routes into town were gridlocked due to flooding. Not really my fault but I got home feeling slightly deflated and very unorganised. A quick cup of coffee and a clear out of my kitchen cupboards left me feeling slightly more in control. I have now made a list of all the dribs and drabs left over from Christmas which need using up. All I need to do now is remember where the list is…
Well ok so the first thing on the list was a half packet of salted peanuts. Yes, I could have quite easily eaten them and nobody would have been any the wiser but I thought I would make something a bit more interesting to use them up. These chocolate peanut butter bars are so quick and easy and make a perfect tea time treat.