Cakes

Hazelnut Praline Truffle Slice

by fiona on March 5, 2011

Hazelnut Praline Truffle Slice

You’d never guess that this chocolate truffle slice has only four ingredients plus a little water. Essentially just a ganache with a little toffee nut crunch, let it chill for a few hours and you have yourself a lovely smooth chocolatey bar that tastes like a grown-up version of Toblerone. It makes an interesting yet low-key post-dinner sweet when served with a little port, and can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge. Store the praline in an airtight container to keep it crisp, and assemble before dinner.

Hazelnut Praline Chocolate Truffle Slice

This is great base recipe, and there are so many possibilities for experimentation with mix-ins and flavoring. You can substitute macadamias or almonds for the hazelnuts in the praline, or mix a little liqueur or citrus zest into the truffle mixture. S’mores ingredients, chili, cocoa nibs, toffee pieces, candied fruit would all be dandy too… I’d better stop before I have to make another batch…

Hazelnut Praline Truffle Slice

Hazelnut Praline Truffle Slice
Adapted from a Nestle recipe | Serves 12

1/3 / 45g cup chopped hazelnuts
3/4 cup / 165g bakers sugar
1/3 cup / 80ml water
1/3 cup / 80ml heavy cream
14 oz / 400g bittersweet chocolate, chopped *

Special Equipment
9×5 loaf pan
Non-stick parchment paper
Silpat
Pastry Brush
Food processor

Grease loaf pan and line with non-stick baking parchment. Set aside.

Place silpat on baking tray. Place nuts in a small pan and stir over a low heat until golden brown and lightly toasted. Immediately pour out of pan onto silpat, making sure they are evenly distributed.

Place sugar and water in a small pan. Stir over a low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Brush down sides of pan with wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals.

Bring mixture to boil over a medium-high heat and boil until mixture is dark golden (about 6-7 minutes). Do not stir mixture while boiling. Note: once mixture starts to change color it can burn quickly so watch very carefully.

Remove from heat immediately and pour over nuts on silpat. Set aside to cool at room temperature. When hard, break into large pieces, and place half praline in a food processor and process until finely chopped.

Place cream in a large pan and bring almost to a boil over a medium-low heat. Add chocolate, turn heat to low and stir until melted and smooth. Remove mixture from heat and stir in crushed praline.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight, until firmly set.

To Serve: Remove from pan, place on plate and top with leftover praline. If you want to cut it into perfect slices, remove from fridge for a while then use a sharp knife. I prefer to eat it cold from the fridge in chunks hacked off with a cheese knife!

* A note on the chocolate – I used half 70% cacao and half 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate. You may want to dial down the cacao percentage if you don’t like really strong, dark chocolate.

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Global Desserts: Banh Chuoi Nuong from Vietnam

by fiona on November 9, 2010

Vietnamese Banana Cake / Banh Choui Nuong

From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, walk through the street markets of Vietnam and the sizzling sweet, meaty and garlicky plumes emanating from food stands precipitate a seemingly endless hunger. If you leave enough room for dessert, you will find a huge variety of exotic fruits (Durian, Mangosteen, Green Dragon), colorful delicacies (Pandan Cake, Banh Xu Xe) and a definite French influence (Banh Flan, Banh Bong Lan).

For the Vietnamese leg of the Global Dessert Challenge however, inspiration came from closer to home. The menu prepared by Seattle Chef Chris Mills for his second visit to the James Beard house included a Vietnamese Banana Cake. I was lucky enough to receive an invite for the preview dinner, and unlucky enough to have to pass, but after hearing others rave about this dessert, I decided to make my own for the Challenge.

Banh Chuoi is a banana cake which comes in several forms, one of which is a baked version “Banh Chuoi Nuong”. Banh Chuoi Nuong is often made with bread and coconut milk, effectively a bread pudding in cake form. This version uses condensed milk which might lead you to think it would be overly sweet and cloying. Surprisingly it’s quite subtle, and works as well for breakfast as it does for dessert. Other variations include Ban Chuoi Hap, a steamed version which contains rice starch and is served with coconut milk and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

I made this dessert with Red Bananas, which have a slight pink tinge to the flesh and a little hint of creamy strawberries, although any ripe bananas work well. Typically this cake is chilled but I like it a little warm. Serve with toffee sauce or a scoop of coconut ice cream (Chef Mills served his with a tropical fruit salad and coconut ice cream).

Vietnamese Banana Cake / Banh Chuoi Nuong
Adapted from The Songs of Sapa by Luke Nguyen
Serves 8

8 ripe red bananas / 10 baby bananas / 6 large regular bananas
¼ cup / 2 1/4oz / 60 g sugar
7 large eggs
14oz / 400 g can sweetened condensed milk
2 ¼ sticks /9oz / 250g unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups / 7oz / 200g flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400F.

Slice bananas thinly, place in medium bowl and mix together with sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Using a hand whisk, beat eggs until well combined. Beat in condensed milk and cooled melted butter.

Stir in flour until well combined. Stir in salt and vanilla.

Gently mix in bananas until evenly distributed.

Pour mixture into greased and floured pan.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.

Place on wire rack to cool. Serve in slices, warm or cold from the fridge.

What is the Global Dessert Challenge?
200 Countries, 200 Desserts. Join me on a sweet journey around the world! Check out my progress, or learn more about the challenge here.

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