Hazelnut and pecan nut praline

March 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Baking a cake for someone is one of the most enjoyable ways to give a gift. You don’t have to spend hours in busy, congested streets going from shop to shop looking for the perfect candidate because you can prepare in advance! Plus, baking is such a personal gift to give as it’s something homemade, thoughtful and full of effort.

I got a strong hint that coffee cake was a firm favourite on this occasion, so I decided to add my little twist as usual. The coffee cake recipe will follow tomorrow, but the preparation in advance rings true here as I’d prefer to not be confined to the kitchen the whole day!

Praline is a beautiful invention; sprinkled over ice cream, melted chocolate pots, tarts, even buttered toast for a decadent breakfast. Praline can take many forms, from the simple concoction of caramelised sugar and nuts to the more luxurious Belgian pralines that bring together the creamy and nutty sensations we all love.

When crushed praline is mixed up with chocolate it forms what the French call praliné but praline isn’t simply a Belgian or French invention. You find nuts and sugar syrup under various names such as brittle in the US and chikki in Indian confectionary where palm sugar or jaggery is used rather than caster sugar.

For our purposes today the praline I’ve made is incredibly simple but has a lovely mix of nutty flavours. You’ll need the following:

  • 120g fine sugar (I used a mix of caster sugar and golden caster sugar but you can use either)
  • 150g pecan halves and hazelnuts
  • vegetable oil to oil the baking tray and utensils

To make the praline, put the sugar and a dash of cold water into a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and don’t stir it. It’ll soon become a light caramel colour. You can probably swirl it around the pan once or twice but I wouldn’t suggest putting any spoons in unless you want them coated in caramel.

Once it turns that lovely golden brown you should add in the nuts and stir well to coat in caramel. Pour this out onto either an oiled baking tray or as I did onto my new silicone mat. Using an oiled spoon, set eight of the whole praline pieces aside onto an oiled plate.

It should take around 15 minutes for the caramel to cool on the silicone mat/baking tray. Once it is cooled and set, break it into smaller chunks and place everything into a food processor to blitz into rough crumbs.

This recipe will yield a small amount of praline for you to sprinkle over desserts, but it won’t last long!


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