Thursday, January 6, 2011

Praline Powder and Paste

Tonight, I started to work on my the January Daring Bakers Challenge (for now the challenge is Top Secret, on the 27th all will be revealed).  Anyways, for a few parts of my project I needed praline paste.  After doing a lot of Google researches and finding out praline paste is expensive but rather easy to make, I decided to make my own. 

Praline paste, I learn is a common staple in a lot of pastries, especially French pastries.  Basically praline paste is ground up nuts (traditionally hazelnuts or a combination of hazelnuts and almonds) that have been coated in a caramelized syrup.  I decided to use all almonds to make my praline paste. After looking at many recipes, I decided on the following.

  • 1 cup almonds ( I used slivered)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar

First step was to toast the almonds in the oven.  An easy step, just have to pay attention and not get distracted.  I've had more than one mishap, not this time, with toasted almonds or other nuts a bit too far.

The next step was to melt sugar and make a simple caramel syrup.  Again rather easy, just takes some time, yet something you have to keep your eye on so it does caramelize too far.  Once the syrup is ready, you stir in the nuts and quickly coat them with the syrup. Once the nuts are coated, you spread the nuts out onto a Silpat mat or greased cookie sheet to cool.

Once the mixture cools for about 30 minutes to an hour, you break it into pieces and then grind the pieces into either a powder or paste.  The paste tastes like a sweet (very yummy) peanut butter, well in this case almond butter.  I did have to contain myself from tasting more.  I could have easily eaten a few heaping teaspoons.

Now, the next step is to prepare for the actually attempt of the January Bakers Challenge.  Stay tuned for that. 

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