Gianduja is a rich confection of hazelnuts, sugar and chocolate. (“Nutella” originated from gianduja!) But PRALINE gianduja is extra special because of the additional sweet complexity of caramel.
Praline gianduja is delicious and versatile. It is wonderful spread on toast, waffles and crepes. It can be used to fill cakes, whipped into buttercreams or rolled into truffles. And it keeps well, too, so you can always keep some around for that occasional spoonful….
Makes about 3 cups.
- 200 g (1 1/2 cups) whole hazelnuts
- 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) water
- .75 g (1/8 teaspoon) salt
- Pinch of instant coffee or espresso powder, crushed fine
- 84 g to 200 g (1/2 to 1 1/4 cup) dark chocolate, chopped (See TIPS)
1. Toast the hazelnuts.
– Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spread the hazelnuts single-layer out on a baking sheet.
– Toast the nuts in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the they become nicely browned and fragrant.
– Remove from the oven and immediately pour the hazelnuts onto a plate. Keep the plate nearby.
- If the hazelnuts still have skins, pour the hot hazelnuts onto a dish towel. (Not a white towel. This will stain.) Wrap the hazelnuts in the towel and start rubbing them together to remove the skins. The skins may not come off completely, but the cleaner the hazelnuts, the less chance it will taste bitter.
2. Make the hazelnut brittle.
– Line the baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside.
– Stir the sugar and water together in a medium, light-colored, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved.
– When the sugar is dissolved into the water and begins to bubble, stop stirring. Just leave to bubble on its own. Swirl the saucepan, only if necessary, so that the caramel will brown evenly.
– As soon as the color turns a dark amber (or as light or dark as you like), immediately pour the hazelnuts into the caramel.
– Quickly swirl to coat and then pour out onto the lined baking sheet to cool and harden. (It’s OK if not every hazelnut gets coated.)
3. Make the hazelnut praline paste.
Crush the hazelnut praline.
– Break the praline into pieces and place them into a sturdy Ziploc freezer bag.
– Break the praline even further in the Ziploc bag by smashing with a heavy rolling pin or mallet.
Grind the hazelnut praline.
– Then grind the praline as finely as you can in a food processor until it turns into a butter. This could take a couple of minutes.
- The longer you grind, the smoother your paste will be.
- If your food processor is getting warm before you reach the desired smoothness, take breaks to cool it down.
Add the salt and instant coffee or espresso powder. (See TIPS)
– Add the salt and instant coffee toward the end of grinding.
4. Add melted chocolate.
– Place the dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.
– Microwave for 30 seconds, and then stir the chocolate.
– If the chocolate is not completely melted and smooth, microwave in 10 seconds bursts, stirring in between bursts, until smooth.
– Stir the hazelnut praline paste into the melted chocolate until combined and smooth.
- Use right away or cool to room temperature before storing.
– Store your Praline Gianduja in an air-tight container or jar in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
- The praline gianduja may slowly thicken or even solidify over time. It will also solidify in the refrigerator. That’s OK. Just warm it up gently until it softens to your preferred consistency.
About this recipe
Gianduja is an Italian confection, a blend of hazelnuts, sugar and chocolate. It can come in different forms, from a solid block to a pourable sauce, depending on the ratio of ingredients. But in order to be considered gianduja, it must be at least 30% hazelnuts. Gianduja is the origin of Nutella.
This recipe for praline gianduja uses caramelized sugar, adding rich, sweet complexity. It is decadent and irresistible.
Once you have made your praline gianduja, you will find yourself wanting to use it in every possible way, Spreading it on waffles and crepes will be just the beginning. You will want to swirl it into cheesecakes, ice creams and mousses and work it into your baked goods. You may even want to learn to temper chocolate just so you can turn your praline gianduja into decadent truffles and candies. But until then, spoonfuls eaten straight from the bowl will do.
Here are a couple of helpful TIPS:
1) More chocolate equals firmer gianduja.
– The cocoa butter from the chocolate makes the praline gianduja firm. So the more chocolate you add (or the higher percent cocoa in the chocolate), the more firm your gianduja will set.
For this recipe:
- Use 200 g chocolate for firm set.
- Use 84 g chocolate for soft set.
- A proportion of 50/50 hazelnuts to chocolate (by weight) will set firm. This is good for truffle-like fillings, like for macarons or sandwich cookies or for making candies and confections.
- A proportion of 70/30 hazelnuts to chocolate (by weight) will set soft. This consistency is more like Nutella, soft and spreadable. It is good for dipping, swirling into cheesecakes or injecting into cupcakes.
– Gianduja will take some time to reach it’s final set consistency. If you are rushed, you can speed it up by pouring your gianduja into a shallow dish or placing it in the refrigerator. (Then bring back to room temperature when using.)
2) Why add salt and instant coffee?
The salt and instant coffee can be optional, but adding them to your praline gianduja will enhance its flavor.
- The salt amplifies flavor but also adds balance to the sweetness, bitterness and richness of your praline gianduja.
- The instant coffee or espresso powder brings out the depth of the hazelnut and chocolate flavor. You only need a pinch and should not be able to actually taste the coffee itself.