People tasting praline paste for the first time tend to fall to their knees and weep for all the wasted years. For while it is an ingredient, it’s also a spread in its own right, a sweet nut butter with strong caramel overtones. You’ll need to resist the urge to keep spooning it into your mouth until it’s gone. The formula is elementary: 1-1 sugar to nuts by weight, but most people like to divide the proportion of nuts between blanched almonds and hazelnuts. So let’s say, for purposes of argument, you wanted to make a pound of praline paste for a mid-day snack. You’d use:
8 ounces (225 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup water (6 centiliters)
4 ounces (113 grams) blanched almonds (113 grams)
4 ounces (113 grams) hazelnuts (peeled makes the best presentation)
Place the nuts on a sheet of lightly greased parchment paper or a silpat. Then simply add the water to the sugar in a small saucepan and heat it over high heat, swirling until the mixture turns to caramel. Dark amber is usually the degree most pastry makers cook to, though you can go darker for a stronger flavor. Pour the caramel over the nuts and allow the mixture to cool completely. Then break the praline into pieces and grind them as finely as you can in a food processor until a paste forms. It won’t be as smooth as commercially-made praline paste, but the flavor will be, well…you’ve got to try this stuff to believe it. If you want to absolutely go nuts, add in:
2 ounces melted dark chocolate
…during the final blending step.