Saturday, December 15, 2007

Chocolate Coated Caramelised Nuts

The final item that I made for this year's goodie boxes was chocolate coated caramelised nuts, using instructions from the December 2007-January 2008 edition of Dish.

For my nuts, I selected hazelnuts and brazil nuts (about 150g of each). Roast them in the oven for about 10 minutes, then rub the coarse brown skins off the nuts in a clean linen tea towel.

Next, place the nuts in a heavy based frypan with 4 tablespoons of tap water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and stir over a medium heat until the sugar melts then recrystallises to thickly coat the nuts with a crunchy coating. Place the nuts onto a baking paper lined tray to cool, and separate them out so that they don't stick together as they cool

Melt 250g of chocolate over a bain marie or in a microwave (I prefer the bain marie). Once the chocolate has melted, and depending on your squeamishness level, you can:

(a) coat each nut in the melted chocolate using two forks to dip them in; or

(b) dip your right fingertips into the melted chocolate for a right handed person (and vice versa for a left handed person), and using your fingertips, pat a generous amount of melted chocolate into your left palm (or right palm, for a left hander), then pick up each nut and roll between your chocolate coated palm and fingertips until coated.

I learnt technique (b) at the Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School, and it worked better for me than the forks, which tended to be slower and promoted solidification of the chocolate around the tines.

Place each coated nut on a piece o
f baking paper to set, turning occasionally as it sets to avoid chocolate "feet" forming on your nuts (personally, this doesn't bother me, and mine had small feet).

Once the chocolate has set, you may optionally roll the nuts in cocoa before storing them in an airtight container (but not in the fridge).

I had a drama with the first coat of chocolate on my nuts "blooming" (ie the chocolate when set was grey, spotty and matte in colour because it reset with an incorrect crystalline structure due to the chocolate being too hot when the nuts were dipped). After a bit of Internet research on
tempering chocolate, I successfully recoated the nuts.

These nuts tasted rather nice, although I don't think I will do this very often (because with the number of individual nuts involved, it is rather time consuming).

I wrapped my nuts in cellophane tied with ribbon for the goodie boxes, but they would look great on the dinner table in a ramekin, as pictured above.

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