Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline Truffles

A very close friend of mine is getting married next month. A talented pretty young girl, I have no doubt that she will look amazing on her wedding day. A couple of days back she emailed me her wedding card with note that said :

“It gives me great pleasure to invite you to be a part of a momentous occasion in my life, my WEDDING!!”.

I loved the cheer and the excitement in that note. But instantly I wanted to tell her that the wedding is just a beginning. There are much bigger and way more important things that will happen after the wedding day. In fact, in the big fat Indian weddings, the bride and groom rarely have to do anything in the planning of the wedding. Of course, the bride has to shop, look pretty and generally enjoy all the excitement. But once the “wedding” is over, then starts life, a new and slightly scary life. Especially if you are living with your parents-in-law, like I do and my friend will be doing.

When I say scary, I don’t imply any dramatic monster-in-law kind of situations, but there are several big and small changes which happen to your daily life, that it feels overwhelming. And as a matter of fact, the bride is the only one changing her house and moving in with the new family, in a new home. It can be strenuous, yes, but I think it fades out in comparison to being married to the guy you love. I am no expert in this, but having been married for the last two and a half years, I would like to tell my dear friend three very important things which I always remembered:

  • Treat your parents-in-law just like you would treat your own parents, even more carefully, because it will take time to build a relationship. They will be anxious in the same way that you are, as you are new and unknown to them as much as they are to you. Always believe that they are trying their best to get you settled in the family, and the things that they do, or don’t do are in an effort to make things easier for you. And if you have to assume certain things, always assume the positive.
  • Your spouse is the most important person in your life. It might sound very old-school, but it is essential for growth. Growth of you personally and growth and sustenance of the relationship. When you believe that your husband is the best and deserves the best, and you act accordingly, trust me, it works miracles. I don’t remember if I had this philosophy in the beginning or that I picked it up from my husband, but its like a golden rule. Both of you treat each other as the best, most important people in the world, and see how you do end up as the best people, individually and as a team.
  • And lastly never talk harshly to anyone. This applies in all walks of life, but when you are young, and newly married and whole world feels like it is at your feet, be careful. Be gentle, and accommodating. Everyone around you will be making an opinion of you in the first few months after getting married, and that is the best time to make everyone like you. And you do want that. Life gets easier when your new family is fond of you. It’s as simple as that.

Having said those things, it was easier for me, because my mom and dad in law and my husband’s whole family are amazing people. Very warm and loving, they made my transition into the new family quite easy. And I am ever thankful to them.

Dear reader, do you remember a particular story which happened when you got married? Or your guiding principles which make you the amazing person that you are? Do share in the comments section, I would love to know it.

each truffle

In the meanwhile, last week, I finally decided to use the delicious hazelnuts sitting in my cupboard since a month and turn them into these chocolate and hazelnut truffles. It is a perfect bite-sized no-bake dessert, which is egg-free and gluten-free. And it has the classic chocolate and hazelnut combination. Need I say more?!

Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline truffles

making praline

What you will need :

For the praline –

  • ½ cup hazelnuts, shelled & skinned
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the Ganache –

  • 1¾ cup milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ – 1 cup Crushed or Ground Roasted Hazelnuts for coating

What to do :

  1. Dry-roast the hazelnuts on a non-stick baking tray at 180°C for 10 minutes, or in a pan at low heat, continuously stirring till they get slightly brown and aromatic.
  2. Let the hazelnuts cool completely on a baking sheet or a pan.
  3. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil (do not stir), brushing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.
  5. Boil until the mixture turns amber in color, and add the toasted hazelnuts to it. Pour it on a baking sheet and let it cool.
  6. Break the praline mixture into pieces and grind in a mixture until desired texture, either fine or rough.
  7. For the ganache, finely chop the milk chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl.
  8. Heat cream in a saucepan until just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently until smooth and melted.
  9. Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes and then stir in the hazelnut praline.
  10. Leave to cool and set overnight or for a few hours in the fridge. Bring to room temperature to use.
  11. Forming the truffles : Using a teaspoon, scoop round balls of ganache. Roll them between the palms of your hands to round them off. Finish off by rolling the truffle in the crushed roasted hazelnuts.
  12. Place on small muffin paper molds and you are set.

truffles

Notes :

  1. However tempting it is, do not use chocolate chips for the ganache. Chocolate chips are specifically designed to not melt and are unsuitable for melting for the ganache. Chop regular milk chocolate slab into small pieces and use them.
  2. I always use a mixture of low-fat Amul fresh cream (80%) and heavy cream (20%) for the ganache, It works well and is relatively less calorific.
  3. I roasted the hazelnuts on a pan, and they are more browned in some areas, which is fine. I like the crispness which comes with it.

plate of truffles

 

Sizzling Orange upside-down cake

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Currently, all my after-office hours are filled with research on Paris. As on date, it is exactly 3 weeks before I leave for Le Cordon Bleu. For a long time I thought its easy, I am going there for just a month. Or that it is a very touristy place, geared for tourists like me. So it wont be difficult.

But as the date gets closer, I am getting worried-er. Firstly, it will be quite cold in late November and December. Akshay has studied in Rochester, New York where the winter temperature dips to -10°C. So he is comfortable with the cold. But I am really a Mumbai girl, and my comfort zone is restricted to 22°C to 27°C. Outside this range, it is either too cold or too hot.

Secondly, although I love to eat fish and chicken sometimes, I am a vegetarian at heart. And I need meat-less options for everyday meals. The first time that we were in Europe, I came back with a substantial vitamin deficiency. I have to be careful that it does not happen again. While browsing the web,  I found an excellent book of compilation of restaurants serving vegetarian food in Paris. It is by Rashmi Uday Singh and is called ” A Vegetarian in Paris” . I intend to make best use of it. Of course I will report back on some of the restaurants that I visit and like or dislike.

Third and most important fact (or stupid really, if you think in any other way) is that I will miss Akshay (my husband) tremendously. Since the last 3 years since we started dating and then got married, I haven’t stayed away from him for so long. It has been the longest “happiest-stretch” of my life, and we are a perfect team. No idea how to function alone without his comfort and guidance. Yeah yeah, I did survive well for first 24 years of life without him. But that was before I met him, before I knew what it was to have a wonderful partner like him. And the worst part is, it is going to be his birthday in December when I would be in Paris. Duh uh!

Well, cest la vie, this is life. But apart from these little things, I am superly excited. All the Paris research like the Movies to watch, Places to visit, Books to read   is yielding good results and I am quite hooked on to it. Feel free to browse through it and recommend some more exciting movies, places and books.

Meanwhile, last on Sunday, we made this bloody orange cake for Akshay’s uncle’s birthday. I actually got these exotic looking oranges to make marmalade, but then I stumbled upon this Blood Orange upside down cake from Not Quite Nigella, and dear god, I had to make it.

Orange cake1

The original recipe called for 200 gms of almond flour which I thought was too much, so I reduced it to 100 gms. But the nutty almond-y flavor is delicious and goes very well with the citrusy orange depth of the cake.

And the handsome oranges. A burst of color and flavor!

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Oranges sliced thinly with the covering

The almond meal is very easy to make, after blanching almonds overnight. And even if you forget to soak them the previous night, you can get them ready in 20 mins, with a trick. Read on..

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Blanched almonds and simmered oranges

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Oranges lined on to the pan.

Sizzling Orange upside-down cake recipe

What you will need :

  • 3 blood oranges (the ones which have orange color skin), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 200 gm butter (I always use slightly salted Amul butter)
  • 200 gms powdered sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 gm / 1 cup almond powder / almond meal (See the footnote for recipe)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt

What to do :

  1. In a saucepan, place the water and sugar on low heat till the sugar is melted. Turn the heat to high and let it come to a boil.
  2. Then add the orange slices and simmer it for 20-25 mins on medium heat, till the orange skin becomes tender and slightly translucent.
  3. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and let them cool. Boil the syrup further till it becomes thicker.
  4. Grease and line a 8 or 9 inch cake tin with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with some of the syrup so that the orange slices stick to it. Place the slices on the parchment paper and over to the sides. Cut some into half to fit over the sides of the pan. Reserve the syrup to brush over cake once baked.
  5. With an electric blender, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy and add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in almond meal, flour and yogurt and mix until just combined (do not overwork).
  6. Pre-heat oven to 160°C.
  7. Spoon it into the prepared tin making sure not to dislodge the orange slices.
  8. Bake for 60 minutes @ 160°C until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  9. Let it cool, then upturn it. Gently remove the parchment paper off the cake. Glaze the cake with the reserved sugar syrup. Serve into triangular wedges.

To make almond meal

  1. Take about 5% more almonds than the required quantity of almond meal. Say if you want 100 gms of almond meal, take about 105 gms of almonds.
  2. Soak them overnight in water and in the morning, peel off the skin. Let the almonds dry thoroughly before grinding. In a mixer, pulse the almonds till it forms a coarse powder. Do not over grind as it would then turn into almond butter.
  3. Or, if you want to make it instantly, blanch almonds by boiling them for about a minute or two, uncovered. Use your hand by and rub the skin off . Completely dry the almonds before using, as the water will make it into butter.
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Covered from top to bottom with blood oranges

Notes :

  1. Almond meal if extra, has to be stored in the fridge, or it turns rancid.
  2. The orange skin when simmered in sugar syrup become beautifully moist and tender. But if you dont like the skin, shave the oranges slightly so as to leave on only a thin layer of skin.

This cake is moist and nutty and wholesome. Before you realise you will be going for another piece.

Orange cake2In a quick glance:

Orange cake collage