Praline paste is an ingredient used in pastries and desserts, but commercially prepared ones are often hard to track down. It’s easy to make at home and the flavour when freshly made is so good, it’s worth the effort. Actually, it’s usually less effort than trying to find where to buy it
I’ve made the praline with pistachios because that’s what I happen to need for Christmas but you can use any nuts or combination of nuts. The most commonly used and flavourful are hazelnut (remove the skins after toasting), almond, walnut and macadamia but all are good.
I use a non-stick pan to make the caramel because I find that it is less likely to burn and easier to clean under hot water. Remember that hot syrup really burns if you get it on your skin, or worse, your tongue. Don’t be tempted to lick a spoon, or dip your finger into it!
125 grams raw shelled pistachios
125 grams sugar
20 grams glucose syrup
30 millilitres water
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Prepare a baking sheet with a lining of non-stick baking paper or use a silpat sheet. Set aside. You will need this to tip out the praline.
Place the pistachios in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for
about 5 to 7 minutes until golden. You will smell the lovely aroma as they toast.
Watch them carefully as they will start to burn very quickly once toasted. When golden, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Heat the sugar, glucose syrup and water, in a non-stick saucepan, over a low flame. Bring to the boil and let the syrup boil. DO NOT STIR. Don’t even think about it. The syrup will take a while to start to caramelise but once it starts to colour around the edges it will quickly colour. This is what it looks like as it starts to caramelise:
Keep your eyes on the syrup once it does start to colour and when it turns a nice golden hue, remove from the heat and quickly tip in the pistachios. At this stage you can stir the nuts into the syrup.
Tip the praline out on the prepared baking sheet and set aside to cool. There is no need to spread the praline flat as you will be grinding it to a paste. If you wanted to make the praline to use in chunks or shards, you should quickly spread it out with a lightly oiled spatula or flat-sided knife.
When cool, break the praline into chunks and place in a food processor. Process
until the praline becomes a thick paste. You don’t want powder so keep processing until it forms a paste. This may take a few attempts so that you don’t overheat the processor.
The praline will keep for weeks, if not longer, stored in a clean airtight jar, in a cool, dry place. In warmer weather, I store it in the refrigerator.
These quantities are easily doubled, tripled etc. Unless I need a large batch, I like to make smaller batches more often as I think the flavour is better when it’s fresh.