Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Sweet Mouthful of Praliné


It wasn't just the first mouthful of praliné that made an impression: it was every single one.

I've mentioned the chocolates from Carl in Saint Dié and how everyone, seemingly, counts them amongst their favorites. Carl chocolates have always been packaged the same ever since I can remember: a shiny bag of dark pink color tinged with purple, with a telltale crunching sound that gives you away whenever you reach in for an extra chocolate.

Seeing the metallic pink creates a sort of Pavlovian reaction in my brain, much like the strange thought of cold chocolate milk whenever I see a violet. I'll admit that food-related associations are rife in Lucie-land, but still. Whenever I see the shiny pink, I think praliné.

Praliné paste is made by grinding hazelnuts, almonds, and sugar. Pretty great, right? Mix some chocolate in, and cover that with another layer of chocolate to trap it in a delicious envelope. Tah-dah! You've got my favorite chocolate ever. One bite and I'm back in Urbana, opening up a huge box filled with doll clothes, sweaters from France, and Carl chocolates. The creaminess of the praliné is a perfect complement to the underlying nutiness, melded with the lusciousness of milk chocolate--my favorite for praliné.

Now, picture praliné macaron form. A praliné ganache, sandwiched between two fluffly cookies made of hazelnut powder instead of the usual almond powder. Sure, they may not look like your traditional macaron, but I can assure you that one bite and you'll forget all about it. The outer layers of the macaron have a satisfying crunch, followed by a moist crumb that leads up to a creamy, ultra-rich ganache.

Now that's a sweet mouthful that can only lead up to...a second one. Package them in a shiny turquoise bag, and you'll see that creating Pavlovian responses isn't magic. It's all about baking.

Praliné Macarons
makes approximately 72 macarons

The macaron base used in this recipe is the classic, which you'll find right here. Simply use finely ground hazelnuts instead of almond powder, or use half and half. Also, omit the food coloring.

Praliné Ganache

Note: Praliné chocolate for baking may prove difficult to find in the United States, but it's worth the search! Poulain and Nestlé Dessert both make it here in France, but the Poulain version, called Pralinoise, has a higher proportion of actual praliné.

3/4 c. heavy cream
2 TB unsalted butter
9 oz. praliné baking chocolate

Chop chocolate and place in a medium bowl.

Bring cream to a boil, and pour over chocolate. Let stand for a minute before mixing delicately, without incorporating any extra air.

Once mixture is warm, add butter cut into small pieces and mix until blended. Refrigerate until cold.

When ready to use, beat ganache like you would whipped cream. It will get lighter in color and should feel whipped.

Pipe onto macaron shells. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.
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Eleni said...

i like those sugar sprinkles!

Jennifurla said...

Oh yes, I love the whole look. What a fabulous treat...I need to make these.

Kerstin said...

I'm drooling - these look so beautiful and tasty! I definitely want to tackle making macarons this year.

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

These look amazing! Little mouthfuls of bliss I'm sure. I'm glad you enjoyed them. (This post was fabulously written by the way..I love your ending two lines).

claudia said...

All the baking you made during the holidays looks great! Happy new year to you, and keep posting!

Barbara said...

Wow. Divine recipe, Lucie. This is my year to finally make macarons. How I've avoided it this long I can't imagine. But I'd sure love to try to make your praline version. My mouth is watering!

grace said...

very nice, although i will say this: no macaron shells required! :)

Juliana said...

Yummie, these mac with praline sure look so tasty...I have yet to try to make mac :-) Happy New Year!

Lucie said...

I can see some New Year's macaron-making resolutions here :)

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