Easter Chocolates: Hot Cross Gianduja
Russell Degnan

I wanted to largely avoid dipping chocolate this easter, though that won't be the case entirely. I've been recently experimenting with gianduja - the mix of nut paste, sugar and chocolate - and wanted to try and create something hot cross bun like. Many, many things went wrong. But the smell is divine, they look cute, and taste not so bad either.

Hot Cross Gianduja

Nut Paste

180g Hazelnuts (peeled, toasted)
40g Pecans (peeled, toasted)
40g Pistachio (peeled, toasted)
40g Almonds (peeled, toasted)
75g Sugar

1. Put still warm ingredients in a food processor and grind until oil is released and paste is smooth.

Gianduja

375g Nut Paste
225g Sugar
300g Milk Chocolate
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
100g currants
As needed White Chocolate

1. Add sugar and spices to paste and continue grinding until smooth
2. Melt chocolate and add to food processor, grinding only until mixed so as not to burn chocolate
3. Add currants to mixture.
4. Pour onto marble board and agitate until cooled/tempered
5. Line pan with baking paper and pour into slab.
6. When set, cut into inch squares.
7. Melt white chocolate and using a small nozzle create crosses across each piece of chocolate (or, as is easier, in rows).

Peeling hazelnuts... isn't ideal (almonds are slightly easier). I tried several methods. The method by Alice Medrich is clearly the best: boil for a few minutes in water with a few able-spoons of baking soda. The toasting needs to be a little longer than normal to compensate for the increased moisture, as the paste needs to be dry before the oils will be released. With regard to the nut mix, do as you see fit. I didn't want a purely hazelnut taste, but the key to the taste are the spices.

Processing the nuts always causes me enormous trouble - in this case a cut finger and a burnt out mixer motor. This is probably the fault of my food processor that habitually leaves a hollow cavern of half grinded paste, spinning pointlessly. The use of both a whisk (?) attachment and the cutting blade - and eventually just the former - managed to keep the mixture circulating better, but it took a long time (> 90 minutes) to break down.

The rest of the process is straight-forward, even simple. Gianduja doesn't need to be enrobed (although a base layer might be preferable) so the pieces can keep the colour and texture. It would be nice to create a more rounded top - perhaps by pressing the mixture while partially set, but who has that kind of time?

Finer Things 20th April, 2014 23:28:18   [#] 

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