I used to be scared of pralines or anything caramel. In Paris I wanted to buy jars of praliné paste to take home to Barcelona. But I couldn’t – the suitcase was too full of other baking stuff. And that’s how I learnt it’s surprisingly easy to make pralines in just five to ten minutes. Really easy. It’s just almonds, sometimes hazelnuts too, added to a caramel made by boiling sugar and water. You don’t even need a sugar thermometre! It’s delicious so make double as you can’t help testing it out repeatedly even when you should save some to decorate the sides of your cake or crush in a yummy layer. Roll up roll up, pralines for everyone! Get your pralines here… sorry, I mean make your own, make your own!
There are different ways to make pralines. This method has worked for me and given me caramelised nuts that don’t weep after a day. It’s kind of sad when your caramel starts running or dribbling over your cake, so try this recipe. It’s based on Praliné (en pâte et pralin en poudre) from la Cuisine de Bernard, winner of a 2011 Golden Blog Award for best French cooking blog. The judges adored his wonderful pedagogical step-by-step recipes. He talks about his blogging since the award here (in French). Anyway, love his praliné recipe and here are the slightly adapted instructions, in English.
- 240g/8.5oz almonds with the skin (or replace 50% with hazelnuts)
- 160g (4/5 cup) granulated sugar (or 160g/3/4 cup caster sugar)
- 15ml/g water
Lightly oil a marble surface, baking tray or heat-resistant silicone mat. Place the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or frying pan. Stir in the water so it’s mixed. Put over medium heat. And stop stirring.
Boil the sugar and water till it reaches a temperature of 121°C/250°F. Use a sugar thermometre (I used a probe one) to check the temperature or do it by eye. The bubbles should be going very fast and it should be thickening (mine also seemed to be crystallising more than Bernard’s but it worked anyway). Add the almonds in one go and stir to coat the almonds in the syrup. The sugar will crystallise, going white and lumpy.
Keep stirring. Little by little the syrup will start melting and caramelising. When all the sugar has caramelised take off the heat. Pour on your lightly-oiled surface.
Allow to cool completely before using. You can eat some as it is. Yum. Or break it up by hitting with a rolling pin.
To make pralín just whizz around in the food processor till you get a powder. Add to creams, cake batters or sprinkle on stuff.
To make praliné paste keep whizzing in the food processor. Scrape the sides down with a soft spatula occasionally. Your paste will be oily and quite dark.
Tada! Pralines, pralín powder, praliné paste or all three! And pretty easy huh?
Storing and decorating cakes
Pralines, pralín and praliné all keep well in a glass airtight jar for a week or two at room temperature. I even used my stock of crushed pralines after three weeks to stick around the sides of my mini mousse dome cakes. It adds such a lovely crunch and caramel flavour to these cakes.
So do give pralines a go. I think you’ll love them! 🙂
P.S. If you do, please feel free to leave comments below about your experience and adaptations. I’d love to know about them as would other readers.