Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Praliné Pastes!

Parline nut pastes give an immediate flavor boost to any recipe

The word praliné comes from Praslin, a confectionnary created by Marshal du Plessis-Praslin´s cook.
The cook had the idea of the praliné after seeing a person biting into a piece of melting sugar. In 1680 the  prasline started to be known as Praliné, and ever since it became a must ingredient in the pastry making notably in chocolate houses.

Praline pastes have infinite uses in the kitchen. They can be simply used as spreads on your warm toasted bread, or cookies, or use them as flavor boosters in cakes, muffins, cheesecakes, as a filling for chocolate, or wherever your imagination takes you. 

I made four different types of pranile pastes using  pistacho, hazelnut, hazelnut and chocolate and almonds to create four delicious pastes.  

So much flavor packed in these small oily fruits

For the pistachio paste:
  • 80 g  raw shelled pistachios
  • 70 g white granulated sugar
  • 15 ml water
  • One tsp peanut oil
  • A drop of pistachio essence (or almond essence or kirsh)
  • Green food coloring (optional)
  • Hot water
Start by putting the pistachios into hot boiling water for about a minute, remove them from boiling water and place them into ice water for few secondes, dry the nuts, at this point you will be able to remove the skin. Then place the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them for few minutes, they will be ready when you can smell their wonderful aroma.
Make the syrup by combining water (the 15 ml) and sugar, when sugar is dissolved, it will need few minutes until it starts to change color, at the point you add the roasted pistachios, the sugar might crystalise but  in few mintues it will melt again, even if it doesn´t it´s not a problem.

Transfer the mixture onto a silpat mat or onto a greased surface, and leave it to cool. Transfer the nuts into the food processor and start grinding, when you have a fine powder add the essence, oil and food coloring (adjust the color to your taste), pulse again and you can start adding the hot water one tablespoon after the other  until you get the desired consistency. If you want to use it as a filling, you might want to leave it thick, but you might want it be more fluid if you want to add it to creams, so you will have to adjust the thickness depending on the ultimate use of the paste.

Oily green pistachio paste

For the hazelnut paste you need:
  • 90 g raw hazelnut
  • 70 g sugar
  • 2 g corn syrup
  • 15 g water
Toast the hazelunt, once out of the oven, put them onto a clean towel and start rubbing so the skin comes out, maybe you won´t be able to get all the skin off and it´s ok. 

Make the syrup by combining water, sugar and corn syrup. When the syrup becomes amber, add the nuts and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon, pour the mixture over a silicone mat or a greased surface. Leave to cool.
Amber colored hazelnut paste
Break the mixture into small chunks, place them in the food procesor and grind. First you will get a coarse powder and this point you can stop if you only want a coarse texture that you can add to ice cream or to garnish cakes or whatever you wish.

You can continue pulsing, each pulse of 15 seconds, and mixture will become wet. Scrape down the mixture and stir with a spoon or spatula between each pulse and after 6 or 7 pulses you will get a runny paste!
Expect a nutty, buttery with a roasting taste from this paste

You have your paste ready, but you can go a step further by adding chocolate. I divided my hazelnut praliné into equal parts. I mixed with one half 15 g of grated chocolate and a teaspoon of cocoa powder and a 1/4 tsp of vanilla and mixed until well combined.
Chocolate and hazelnuts is an ideal combination

Finally, for the almond praliné paste:
  • 90 g raw almonds with skin on
  • 70 g sugar
  • 2 g corn syrup
  • 15 g water
Toast the almond for few minutes, let them cool. You can use them with their skin on or as I did remove the skin of the half amount as I didn´t want to get a very dark color.
Leave the skin on some almonds to get a  deep colored paste

Now repeat the same procedure you did for the hazelnut but don't add the chocolate. Almonds might take a bit longer to become rather liquid.
Almond praline paste, perhaps the most popular praline

And there you have it, an interesting way to prepare pastes from three delicious nuts. Get creative and use these pastes in whatever way you like!

Make one or all four, the choice is yours!

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