How To Make: Praline or Caramel
There are plenty of sites and youtube clips showing you how make praline or caramel, but while I was making this hazelnut praline for my Hazelnut Praline & Mascarpone Frosting it occurred to me the little things that go wrong with something so simple and easy to make. I’ve read people fearing making caramel as they fear making souffles or pastry and out of these the caramel is child’s play. You leave it to do it’s own thing letting the heat do its job and almost neglecting it whilst keeping an eye on it.
What sugar doesn’t like is for you to touch it, instead of stirring you move the pan around swirling the caramel inside it and be patient as it will eventually all dissolve. While waiting for the sugar to dissolve it’s best to keep a medium heat, if you have the flames too fierce you can end up burning the outside of the caramel before the sugar in the middle has dissolved.
If you need to get rid of little crystals forming on the side of the pan using a pastry brush dipped in water first brush the little crystals down.
When making caramel sauce I don’t even weigh the sugar I just add what appears to be enough and let it boil until the colour is medium to dark without burning. If you want to add a liqueur to your caramel sauce add it once the caramel is made but still over the heat, it will splutter and harden the caramel but will melt again.
It’s harder to make a very small amount of caramel or praline like I did here, 50 grms of nuts, than larger amounts, especially if you don’t use a small enough pan. If the surface of the pan is too wide you’re evaporating rapidly and and can end up with a tiny thin dribble of caramel at the bottom of the pan, not helpful when pouring out.
For novices, when dealing with the remains of sticky harden caramel to the pan, fill the pan with water put it back on the stove and boil it until caramel dissolved.
To make praline the recipes are; same amount of sugar to nuts.
- 100g • 3/4 cup skinned whole hazelnuts
- 100g • 1/2 cup white sugar (ideal caster sugar not essential)
Some recipes say put your nuts in at the same time as the sugar but I find this way you can easily burn your nuts before the sugar is completely melted. I prefer to put sugar in first let it melt and then add your nuts. For maximum nut flavour toast your nuts in the oven for 5 mins first.
You can make praline or caramel using caster sugar or granulated but if you have caster use that for preference and if the sugar is lumpy like here it’s best to get rid of the lumps first…if you don’t want to be waiting for that stubborn last lump to melt!
Once the sugar has dissolved add your nuts and stir them in and your praline is ready to be poured on to a stone slab or foil.
Most praline recipes use just sugar, no water, but you can add a little liqueur to your praline.
If making it in small quantities like I did, I added hazelnut liqueur to my hazelnut praline, it can be a bit of a problem. After caramelising the sugar and liqueur together then when adding the nuts they will crystalise the sugar, it goes into little white lumps, not a problem as you can carry on heating it and they will dissolve again.
But if you’re making a small amount and the surface of the pan is too wide there will not be enough caramel left in the pan to carry on melting without being in danger of burning it, the photos below show what I mean.
The recipe I was following was for 150 grms of nuts and I cut it down to use 50 grms of nuts, sometimes cutting things down brings its problems.
Even with the difficulty of having a few bits of crystalized sugar it was fine, once cooled and processed you couldn’t notice.