Recipe: Chocolate Covered Praline Shortbread
Techniques: Tempering Chocolate, Shortbread, Gianduja
I dabbled in some fusion patisserie for this week’s blog post, Scottish shortbread topped off with the Italian spread gianduja. This is another recipe from La Patisserie des Reves cookbook, the reason I chose this recipe is because I actually bought these biscuits from their Marylebone High Street store and I wanted to see if I could re-create them at home.
Not wanting to spoil it for you all, but, although these were nice, they weren’t as good as the biscuits I bought. In some ways this is reassuring, I mean a highly experienced, qualified Patissier created the biscuits I paid a pretty penny for. Mine were never going to be as good as that, well not yet anyway (wishful thinking).
I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the term gianduja, however I’m sure you all know the hazelnut spread Nutella. I’d only come across gianduja because Caffe Nero serve Gianduiotti which are individual chocolates from the Piedmont region of Italy, they are shaped like upturned boats and wrapped in foil.
Nutella is simply a brand name for gianduja which is a chocolate, hazelnut and sugar spread/paste. The creation of gianduja belongs to a Chocolatier from Turin (the capital of Piedmont) called Michele Prochet. During Napoleon’s reign in the 1800s the Mediterranean was under a blockade by the British. This made it incredibly difficult to get hold of cocoa from South America, however hazelnuts were readily available in Piedmont, so Prochet added ground hazelnuts and sugar to the chocolate to make it go further.
The name gianduja comes from a marionette character in the ‘Commedia dell’arte’ who represents an archetypal native of Turin. Gianduja was a peasant from the region with a predilection for wine, gastronomy and girls.
Shortbread has a pretty tame history in comparison, the recipe has evolved over the years and at one time did originally contain yeast. In the past shortbread was treated as a luxury item, nowadays it’s readily available at an affordable price. One fact I do like about shortbread is that in Shetland it is a tradition to break a decorated shortbread over the head of a new bride on the entrance to her new house. Ouch!
So back to the recipe, I began with the shortbread, the recipe for which can be found here. In one bowl I combined butter, flour and baking powder until it resembled breadcrumbs.
Sugar, eggs and the seeds from a vanilla pod were whisked together in another bowl and I then added it to the flour mix to form a dough.
The dough rested in the fridge for around 30 minutes before it could be rolled out and cut into rounds with a pastry cutter.
The rounds were then put in the fridge for another hour and then baked in the oven for 15 minutes. They should be pretty colourless when cooked.
The next step was the gianduja, this really tested my food processor and I wouldn’t recommend trying this unless you have quite a good food processor, the recipe for gianduja is here.The hazelnuts and icing sugar were processed until they formed a fine powder. The mix became quite hot and the recipe advised me to wait for 10 minutes so the mixture could cool down. When it had cooled it needed to be blended again until the mixture became a runny paste. I struggled to make a really runny paste, but when I had achieved the best consistency I could, I added the milk chocolate and dark chocolate that I had melted, this completed the gianduja.
The finished gianduja was piped on top of the baked shortbread, sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts and left to chill in the fridge. The finished biscuits were then dipped in tempered dark chocolate and left on a rack to cool.
These were delicious biscuits, however the shortbread did also taste quite nice on it’s own, so if you wanted a simple quick biscuit to make, I can really recommend the shortbread recipe in the recipes section.
I also think these were nicer a day or so later as the flavours really developed.
The last photo to finish on this week, is one of my inquisitive rabbit Stanley, he doesn’t like to make things easy for me when taking pictures for this blog…
Next week I’m embarking on something World Cup related, now this could all go horribly wrong, however even if it does, there will still be an update of the mess I got into!
Thanks for reading.