Summer is here. Bake something summery :)

August 27, 2011

The Daring Bakers' Challenge: Milk Chocolate Pralines with Spiced White Choc Mousse and Honey Roasted Macadamias

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

Here we are again :) The end of the month means revealing the big secret coming out from the DB kitchen. This time it REALLY freaked me out because on of our main tasks was tempering chocolate. As I read through the page more and more recipes, directions, tips, notes and links popped out. I was pretty confused and it took a while for me to recuperate :D Well, and my head started creating and mixing up new ideas of creams, fillings and other stuff. Now you're about to find out what my head finally created.

Let me start from the beginning. The task was pretty clear: make two kinds of candy - one using chocolate and the other is completely up to you. I've been planning to make truffes au chocolat (or if you want - chocolate truffles) for about a year. The first part of the task completed. I'll get back to the truffles soon in the future. And finally the second part. Recently I've been to IKEA and bought quite a nice ice cube tray to use as chocolate molds one day - the second part of the task completed - pralines!

Pralines need to be filled with something so I had to figure out a filling for them. After long time of thinking I chose to make simple but interesting flavour combination. I'm the only person in my family who loves dark chocolate, the other members don't like its bitterness (and in fact, that's the most delicious thing, like Lindt 85% or even 99%, isn't it?). That said, I had to made them from milk chocolate (I can't eat all the pralines by myself, or can I?). As for the filling, I chose to make an easy white chocolate mousse spiced with different spices typical for our Czech spiced cookies called "perníčky" and in order to give the pralines a different mouth feel I inserted honey roasted macadamias into the center of each praline.

The choice of chocolate is very important when making pralines or any other chocolate candy. Wikipedia helped me a bit with this. The best choc you can use is called couverture chocolate - it is a very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter (32-39%). The total "percentage" cited on many brands of chocolate is based on some combination of cocoa butter in relation to cocoa solids (cacao). In order to be properly labeled as "couverture", the percentage of cocoa butter must be between 32% and 39%, and the total percentage of the combined cocoa butter plus cocoa solids must be at least 54%. Sugar makes up the remainder, and up to 1% may be made up of vanilla, and sometimes soy lecithin. Couverture is used by professionals for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing. On the other hand "confectionery chocolate", "compound chocolate" or "summer coating" have a lower percentage of solids, and they may also contain vegetable oil, hydrogenated fats ("trans fats"), coconut and/or palm oil, and sometimes artificial chocolate flavoring and definitely aren't good for both eating and cooking/baking. If you can’t get couverture or a higher end chocolate and would simply prefer to get your chocolate at the local market, choose brands like Lindt, Ghiradelli or Green & Blacks or Valrhona.

Tempering is a method of heating and cooling chocolate in order to use it for coating or dipping.
Proper tempering gives chocolate a smooth and glossy finish. Tempered chocolate will have a crisp snap and won't melt on your fingers as easily as improperly tempered chocolate. The reason for the difference is a bit complicated, it has to do with different types of crystals forming in the cocoa butter at different times. With tempered chocolate the crystals have formed in a uniform way which gives us great looking and tasting chocolate. It all sounds so great but it's much harder to make. Be ready that the chocolate will be everywhere - your hands, countertop, bowls, pans - and you'll feel sick from endless chocolate licking (I mean you can't just throw the delicious brown  thing away :D). Also I'd like to mention that it's not a good idea to work with chocolate in a hot summer weather and hope that it'll thicken and set in the end or even have that nice snap. Impossible. If I ever feel like making a big mess in my kitchen,  it'll be in winter when I'm cold and chocolate sets so fast!

My next piece of advice: either buy real professional chocolate molds or say goodbye to tempering right now. My chocolate was properly tempered (the leftovers I put on baking paper were beautifully shiny and if it weren't for the hot weather, they'd have that perfect snap), but my ice cube tray probably didn't have perfect surface and when I got the pralines out they were not shiny. Plus I had to keep them refrigerated otherwise they wouldn't set in this century and when I took them out tiny drops of water formed on them. They tasted amazing but didn't look like that. So if you want perfect pralines, make in cold weather with the proper equipment.

There are many methods of tempering, our sugar mavens provided us two of them. I'm quite lazy so I chose to use the (easier - for me) one called seeding. It means that you add small amount of tempered chocolate (that's the seed) into your melted chocolate.

I'm pretty sure you'll have leftover chocolate and filling and the easiest thing is eating them :D However, if you feel sick of chocolate after this choc marathon, you can simply take a clean brush, dip it in chocolate and paint with it small paper cups - at least twice to have get two layers. When it's set, you peel of the paper cup and you get a nice edible chocolate cup (this reminds me our April challenge) which you fill with leftover mousse and top off with leftover macadamias (but these are so good that my family managed to eat them within 10 minutes in front of our TV and they only left me 3 pieces). And how do you get to the lefovers? Continue reading the recipe :)

200g (1 1/4 cups) good quality milk chocolate
150ml (3/4 cup) whipping cream
100g (3/4 cup) good quality white chocolate
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 finely crushed clove
a pinch of anise
2 finely crushed allspice balls
125g (1 cup) macadamia nuts
25g (1 tbsp) honey
15g (1 tbsp) butter
granulated sugar
icing sugar for coating

Macadamias: Heat butter and honey together until melted, stirring well. Toss with macadamia nuts. Spread the nuts (the honey mixture included) on a cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven to 175C for 5 minutes. Then check and stir them well so they don't get burnt. Bake for 2 more minutes, check and stir and repeat until the nuts are golden brown and the honey mixture thickens and darkens. The total baking time should be about 10-15 minutes. Remove and transfer the nuts and the leftover mixure into a bowl, sprinkle with granulated sugar and stir while cooling for 5 - 10 minutes until they no longer stick together. When cooled completely, roll them in icing sugar.
Filling: Finely grate the chocolate. In a saucepan, combine spices with cream  and bring to boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, remove from from heat. Add chocolate into the cream and set aside for 3 minutes. Then gently stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted and it is smooth. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Then remove from fridge and whip until stiff peaks form (just like whipped cream). At first it'll look like it's curdled but continue whipping and you'll get nice foamy mousse. Use immediately or refrigerate.
Pralines: Finely chop chocolate if in bar/slab form (about the size of almonds). Place about ⅔ of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water). Make sure that no water gets into the chocolate. If it happens, the chocolate will seize! Gently stir the chocolate so that it melts evenly. Once it’s melted, keep an eye on the thermometer, as soon as it reaches 45°C / 113°F remove from heat. Add small amounts of the remaining ⅓ un-melted chocolate (seeds) and stir in to melt. Continue to add small additions of chocolate until you’ve brought the chocolate down to 27°C/80.6°F. Put it back on the double boiler and bring the temperature back up until it reaches 30°C/86°F. The chocolate is now tempered.
Assemlby: While holding mold over bowl of tempered chocolate, take a nice ladle of the chocolate and pour over the mold, making sure it cover and fills every well. Knock the mold a few times against a flat surface to get rid of air bubbles, then turn the mold upside down over the bowl of chocolate, and knock out the excess chocolate. Turn right side up and drag a bench or plastic scraper across so all the chocolate in between the wells is scraped off cleanly, leaving you with only chocolate filled wells. Put in the fridge to set, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and fill each well with the filling and place one macadamia into the center. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Again take a ladle of chocolate and pour it on top of the filled chocolate wells, knocking against a flat surface to settle it in. Scrape excess chocolate off the mold with the bench scraper then refrigerate until set (about an hour). When set, pop your pralines out of each well and enjoy!

  • The temperature for proper choc tempering differs for each type of chocolate. For dark chocolate heat it to 45C, then cool it to 27C and heat again to 32C. For white it's 45C, then 27C and finally 29C.
  • If at any stage you do make a mistake with the tempering process you can simply start again from the beginning.

This challenge gave me a lot! I've always wanted to learn tempering chocolate a now I know the know-how. I cannot say I had fun from the beginning to the end, but I've learned so much. I had a real mess in the kitchen, chocolate was absolutely everywhere, it was hot and humid, but those 20 pralines were successfully made and man, they were a huge hit, so mission completed :D The mousse is quite sweet with very interesting taste and spice flavours, it reminds me the spice cookies a little and the macadamias were phenomenal! At first you tasted soft, tender silky chocolate on your tongue followed by light creamy mousse with a touch of cinnamon and in the end there was wonderful crunchy macadamia nut with honey buttery crust...Oh God, I guess  I want them again :D

Linked to:
These Chicks Cooked
Flash Back Friday
Foodie Wednesday
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Whisking Wednesdays


  1. BEAUTIFUL! My butt grew just lookin at these. Fun challenge, huh? MMMMMMM

  2. Such beautiful creations - I love the little cups :)

  3. Loved all your candies, but the chocolate edible cup is my favorite! Lovely work, as always!

  4. That looks awesome!! Cant get any better than this:) I keep coming back to ur post to get one more glance of this beauties!!

  5. LUSCIOUS and BEAUTIFUL job, Congratulations!!!

  6. Unfortunately putting chocolates in the fridge will make them sweat and it's ideal to use chocolate moulds, but your moulded bonbons look fantastic! They're also my favourite of the treats you made, the spices sound amazing and I love macadamias.
    Well done on your challenge and thank you for taking part :)

  7. Beautiful job, Catalina! Your choices of ingredients are very nice. I know how messy a kitchen looks after working with chocolate. The consolation for that is the love everybody showers on you for your sweet efforts.

  8. Carolyn: Thank you! I'm sure it didn't :D And yes, it was funny and messy :D

    Korena, The Capitol Baker, Betsy: Thank you a lot, ladies :)

    Renata: Thank you :) The cups remind me our April challenge :D

    Ramya: Thank you so much, Ramya!

    INMA: Thank you!

    MandyM: I know, but in this hot weather they'd not set outside the fridge. Thank you, I'm really glad that you learned us tempering!

    Simona: Thank you, Simona :) Yes, you're right, it's great to see that the others like your creations but still I have to clean up the kitchen myself :D

  9. Thank you for linking up on Whisking Wednesdays last week. Just wanted to let you know I featured your recipe this week! I hope to see you back and would love you to link up another recipe or two this week!

  10. It's all so beautiful! You did a great job with these. What interesting flavor combinations. I would love to sample one or...five. Thanks for sharing on Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

  11. Yeah, I can't say I always have fun with these challenges, but I do learn a lot! Your results are simply beautiful!!!

  12. ryobious: Thank you so much for choosing my recipe! I'll link up for sure :)

    Kim McCallie: You're welcome :) If there were any left, I'd love to give you a few! Thank you :)

    Lizzy: Thank you :) That's true, but it's worth it.

  13. These like very delicious, and it sounds like you learned so much through the creation process (which is always awesome). Thanks for passing on your lessons; I'll definitely be back :)

  14. Rachel at Eat and Write: Thank you so much! It makes me feel really happy to know that you find interesting my "lessons" :D


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