Daring Bakers August Challenge: Candylicious - Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Pralines and self-made Fudge

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

After (nearly) two weeks with dehydrated food in the Norwegian mountains I'm back home, enjoying fresh ingredients and all the things harvested from my brothers garden. We have lots of cucumber, zucchini and tomatoes.On our way home we were at my parent's annual plum-dumpling dinner and I got some of the remaining fruits. So we had plum cake (recipe from Dorie). Then we got pears from the father of my sister-in-law. So I made pear butter. Then there was the Daring Cooks Challenge for this mounth which I missed. So we had eggplant curry and appams (post will follow). After that it was time for this challenge. Really, my kitchen looked like a mess. Now I am exhausted writing this post, lucky I could assuage my sweet tooth. I decided to make the milk chocolate & hazelnut truffles which looked very appealing and reminded my of Ferrero Rocher which I like. I added some pepper to the truffle mixture - a spicy idea I borrowed from an ice cream recipe of David Lebovitz. As second I chose fudge although it's something I would call my nightmare. I tried svseral times to make a fudge recipe from Trish Deseine's Caramel-book. It never worked out. This time too I had to make another recipe for fudge twice before it worked.

Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline (Truffles)
makes +- 30 truffles, recipe easily doubled or halved
adapted from the Cook‟s Academy Curriculum, Dublin

 Praline Ingredients:
  • ½ cup (120 ml/2 oz/60 gm) hazelnuts, shelled & skinned
  • ½ cup (120 ml/4 oz/115 gm) granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
Note: I used 30 g hazelnuts and 30 g ready roasted and salted macadamias (a pinch of salt is my 'secret ingredient when making all things caramel)

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C / 160°C Fan Assisted (convection oven); 350°F/320°F convection / Gas Mark 4. Place whole hazelnut on a non-stick baking tray and dry roast for 10mins. Allow to cool. Place hazelnuts in a clean dry kitchen towel and rub to remove the skins. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Place the skinned hazelnuts onto the prepared tray. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil (do not stir), brushing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals. Boil until the mixture turns amber (160°C - 170°C / 320°F- 340°F on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat immediately and pour the syrup over the hazelnuts. Allow to cool completely. Break into small pieces. Transfer pieces to a food processor and process until desired texture, either fine or rough. Set aside.

Ganache Ingredients:
  • 1¾ cup (9 oz. / 255 g) Milk chocolate, finely chopped ½ cup (4 oz. / 125 ml) 
  • Double/Heavy Cream (36% - 46% butterfat content) 
  • 2-3 Tablespoons (1-1 ½ oz. / 30ml – 45 ml) Frangelico Liqueur, optional (my choice: Baileys with hazelnut)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional)
  • ½ - 1 cup Crushed or Ground Roasted Hazelnuts for coating 
Note: I used 100g chocolate with 43% cocoa and 155 g chocolate with 37% cocoa

Finely chop the milk chocolate. Place into a heatproof medium sized bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan until just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently until smooth and melted. Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the praline and (optional) liqueur. Leave to cool and set overnight or for a few hours in the fridge. Bring to room temperature to use.

Forming the truffles: Using teaspoons or a melon baller, scoop round balls of ganache. Roll them between the palms of your hands to round them off . Handle them as little as possible to avoid melting (when wearing food safe latex gloves, it's less messy and prevents you have to much heat from your hands). Finish off by rolling the truffle in the crushed roasted hazelnuts Tip: you can also roll them in hazelnut praline. Place on parchment paper and leave to set. I put them into mini muffin paper moulds and stored them into a plastic container.

Self-made fudge
adapted from TheInfamous7 on Squidoo

  • 340g caster sugar
  • 250 ml heavy cream
  • 25g butter
  • 12g white chocolate
  • 1/2 vanilla pod 
Note: I failed the fist time. For the second try, I first melted and caramelized the sugar and then added the remaining ingredients (except the chocolate) - that worked.
Put all ingredients except the white chocolate into a good heavy saucepan. For the vanilla pod, lay it flat on chopping board, and run a sharp knife down the center of the pod, split the pod in two and scrape out the seeds from each half, add to the mixture. Grease and line a baking tin ready to pour fudge in once cooled (I used a silicone mould).
Place saucepan on a very low heat for the beginning stage. You want to dissolve all the sugar crystals before it comes to the boil. Look for a smooth liquid texture without any graininess at all. Once sugar is dissolved, and you have a beautiful buttery, creamy golden sugar syrup, Increase the heat until it comes to boil! Keep stirring constantly or that cream in there will burn at the bottom of your pan and ruin your beautiful fudge. Continue to boil and stir for 15-18 minutes.
Remove Fudge from heat once you feel you got the Beautiful Golden Thick Honey Syrup and put to one side! Have a rest..you'e earned it!
You'll need a cake/pastry mixer or you can do this by hand with whisk and bowl. Pour fudge into mixer or bowl and begin to beat.
Cooling/beating should take at least 10-15 min, all the while you'll see your fudge come into life as it begins to cool. About 5 minutes into the cooling process add the handful of white chocolate while the fudge is hot enough to incorporate but not toohot to burn the chocolate.
Before it starts completely setting, spoon the fudge mixture into your pre greaseproofed tin and smooth out so the mix lies flat. Leave to cool out of the sunlight for at least 4-6 hours (its best 36hrs after and lasts in perfection for 5-7 days after making). Enjoy!

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