praline. sugar coated goodness. and i love how you can use it it so many different ways, from eating it by itself, as a topping, mixing it into a batter, etc, etc...
I decided to make hazelnut praline because it was one of the ingredients called for in the Monte-Carlo cake by Alain Ducasse in his Grand Livre Dessert book (I finally made it!). Initially I didn't know there was a difference between american praline and french praline.... but there is. American praline, or at least in texas, contains butter and milk, and always pecans. It's a good thing I couldn't find hazelnut praline in stores, or else I never would have researched it and made the French version.
The ingredients are so simple and hard to forget: a 1:1 nut:powdered sugar ratio.
So for me, I used 100g raw hazelnuts, and 100g of powdered sugar. But you can easily use 50g hazelnuts + 50g almonds, or 100g almonds, or 100g cashews, or anything your heart desires.
If your nuts are not already peeled, boil them in water for about a minute. Then you should have no problem slipping off the skin.
Weigh out your sugar to match your amount of nuts, and in my case, 100g. A nice even number, don't you agree?
Over medium heat, mix your powdered sugar and nuts together. And wait. Make sure to continuously stir, as you don't want to burn the sugar. Keep stirring and waiting until you begin to see the sugar melt and caramelize. It should turn a nice light brown color and smell oh so good.
Then, spread it over a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone bowl. And refrigerate it so it becomes hard and crunchy. Once it's cooled in the fridge, you should be able to lift it up as a single sheet and break it into pieces. At this point, you can just eat it like it is. I know I did. However, I needed to make it into a powder for a mousse, so I kept going.
I dumped it into a food processor and chopped it into a fine powder. YUM! and then it later became used in a cake, but that is for another time.