Chocolate Delice; reader.
Reader; meet your next dinner party finale.
It’s Raymond Blanc‘s recipe from Kitchen Secrets and I have immediately relegated to the “tricks to pull out of your sleeve” category in my cooking repertoire. The same place I keep my artichoke puree with scallops and gremolata (a photocopy of Henry Harris‘s chicken scratchings from the great man himself). These recipes are all fireworks on the palate and plate but infinitely achievable with a bit of patience. I love these insider secrets and I am surprised but pleased that Blanc decided to share, since so often when these guys do a book they leave out all the good stuff.
What you have here is a chocolate pudding, on top of a praline cornflake base with a “Wow, how did you do that!?” caramel coated hazelnut with a long caramel spike growing out of the top of it. The “that” part, I didn’t know myself and when I read how, I succumbed to a fit of gleeful giggles, like when you figure out a magic trick. Here’s how: you get some blue tack and stick it to the bottom of your kitchen cabinet. Then you make a caramel. Poke a toothpick into a just roasted, still warm, hazelnut. Dip into the caramel, then stick the bare end of the toothpick into the blue tack and let the tail form.
I love it. Don’t you love it!?
I didn’t have blue tack by the way. So I just stuck the toothpick ends in my mouth (about 5 of them since you asked) and dribbled sugar all down my pajama front since I was too excited and uncivilized to shower, get dressed and put on an apron before trying it, 1st thing on a Monday morning.
Raymond Blanc assumes that you can easily buy praline (you can’t in Berlin), or unskinned hazelnuts to make your own praline (yeah, haven’t found those either here) so I roasted, skinned and made my own praline. But if you can’t be bothered just buy some digestives, mash them up with a little butter, the way you would for a cheesecake and use that as a base instead. It will work equally well.
If you are up for a bit of fun, give the hazelnuts a go. Caramel can be hard to gage, especially if like me, you have dark bottomed pans but in the words of MoriheiUeshiba “Failure is the key to success.” (I wish someone would have told me that years ago).
I have included the full recipe but I made only half since I was only making it to see what it was like. A half recipe would easily serve 8. If you can’t cut a straight line, or just don’t want to fiddle, make individual portions in a glass or jar. Or even in a cappuccino cup with the praline sprinkled on top.
Chocolate Delice (serves 12-14)
Praline and cornflake base
100g cornflakes, slightly crushed
200g hazelnut praline paste
2 medium eggs
325ml whipping cream
140ml whole milk
340g dark chocolate
50g skinned hazelnuts
150g caster sugar
200g skinned hazelnuts
1. In a large bowl, mix the cornflakes and praline paste together with a wooden spoon to achieve a smooth paste that can be easily pressed into the corner of the mould. Line a 24x14cm rectangular frame mold or a 20cm tart ring with non stick-baking paper. Tip the praline and cornflake paste into the mould and spread evenly with the back of the spoon.
2. In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs together. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and milk just to the boil, then slowly pour onto the eggs, whisking as you do. It’s important that the cream and milk mixture is boiling hot when you add it to the eggs as this will partially cook them and help to set the mixture. Add the chocolate and stir together until melted and smooth. Pour this mixture on top of the cornflake base and leave it in the fridge to set overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Scatter the hazelnuts onto a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 8-10 mins While the nuts are still warm, carefully push the sharp end of a cocktail stick into each one. Affix some Blu-Tack pieces on to the edge of a shelf and place a tray underneath to collect any excess caramel. In a small heavy-based saucepan, melt the sugar over a medium heat, then cook to a dark golden caramel. Don’t take the caramel off the heat too early. You need a pronounced caramel flavour; a pale caramel will be overly sweet and uninteresting.
4. As soon as the caramel has formed, dip the base of the pan in cold water for 2 seconds to stop the cooking process. Be careful as the intense heat of the pan will make the water it is dipped into boil instantly. This step is necessary to stop the caramel from cooking and keep it at the right colour.
5. Leave the caramel to cool slightly for about 1 min, until it has thickened to a coating consistency. Now, holding a cocktail stick, dip each hazelnut into the caramel to coat. Press the other end of the stick into the caramel to coat. Press the other end of the stick into the Blu-Tack, to suspend the caramel-coated hazelnut vertically. After a minute the caramel will have set hard with a beautiful long tail.
6. Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water, slice the delice and sprinkle with a little grated chocolate. Arrange on serving plates garnishing with the caramel nuts.
1. Melt 200g sugar in a pan and cook to the hard-crack caramel stage (in other words, when you have a dark caramel and the temperature is just over 150C)
2. Add 200g hazelnuts, stir and pour onto a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Cool until set, then blitz to a paste in a blender, adding a little warm water if needed.