hazelnut praline truffles

There’s a slow breeze drifting through the door. It’s cool, not cold, and heady with the sweetness of grass, fresh rain and sprouted freesias. Outside, the sky is inky black, peppered with glowing streetlights and shadows of cloud. Today is the third day of the second month of Australian Spring: October 3rd, 2012. And despite being a working day, it has started well.

Yes, started. It’s 12.15am to be exact. I’m mostly awake out of stubbornness, fingers primed for a flow of words despite the intoxicating pull of sleep. I chew absentmindedly on a stick of apple-green gum, thinking. It’s been an awfully long time between posts. Twenty two days to be exact. That’s enough time for a hamster to give birth to a litter of young and get impregnated with the next… darn productive creatures.

As for me? Well, I’ve worked for fourteen days, discounting a public holiday. I’ve eaten one box of Cruskits, drunk about two litres of milk, made some cherry almond rocky road (one of my very favourite chocolate treats… I’ll share the recipe sometime), completed about sixteen home aged care assessments and fallen asleep by candlelight. Oh, and I turned twenty nine. At 10.32pm, whilst sitting with my two favourite people in a tiny restaurant called Blackbird on Claisebrook lake.

Yep, twenty nine. One year older than the average age of retirement for an NFL player… sad huh? Comment of the week: “Ah, you’re still under thirty… that means you’re still young!”. Young? Yeah, I guess… probably in the same way that Olivia Newton John still looked ‘young’ as a thirty year old teenager in Grease. Delightful, in a wrinkled kind of way.

Anyway, moving on. The main reason that I’m writing this post is to share with you the ‘recipe’ (or rather, my notes) for creating hazelnut centred, rum infused 70% cocoa truffles, drenched in smooth chocolate and crunchy praline. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember that right at the end of my recipe post for Chocolate Truffle Cake, I mentioned that any leftovers could be easily transformed into dense praline truffles in no time. This supplementary post explains my method on how to do just that.

As you read my notes below, you’ll realise that there’s a sad absence of step-by-step photography. That’s primarily due to the fact that these truffles were made on the run, in preparation for a dinner at a friend’s house. I plan to embellish on this post one day, but in the meantime I’d encourage you to check out my beautiful friend Talitha Sprigg’s Oreo Truffle tutorial via High Tea & Trinkets. It contains step-by-step photography on how to shape, chill and decorate your truffles with minimal fuss for a shiny, uniform finish. As with my notes, her recipe takes kindly to any variations you fancy… so feel free to experiment until you create your own version of chocolatey perfection.

Hazelnut Praline Truffles

Makes about 20

  • 2 medium slices of room temperature ganache-iced Chocolate Truffle Cake* (or other chocolate mud cake, preferably ganache-iced)
  • A splash of good-quality rum
  • 1 quantity of hazelnut praline, crushed*
  • 20 toasted, peeled hazelnuts*
  • 1 block (about 200g) of 70% cocoa good quality dark chocolate (not cooking chocolate)

*recipes and tutorials can be found in my Chocolate Truffle Cake post.

Crumble your cake into a bowl, then add in a generous splash of rum. Work the mixture together with a spatula until it becomes smooth, glossy and melds to itself. Set aside briefly.

Divide your mixture into about 20 pieces (or less, if you prefer bigger truffles). Flatten each piece into a disc, then place a hazelnut in the centre. Fold the mixture around your hazelnut, pinching the edges together. Roll the finished ball, with the enclosed hazelnut, in the palms of your hands until it becomes round and smooth. Place onto a tray lined with baking paper, then repeat with your remaining nuts and mixture.

Place your finished balls into the fridge for about half an hour to firm up (if you’re pressed for time, use the freezer). In the meantime, cut your block of chocolate into pieces and place them into a glass bowl over a double boiler to melt. When the mixture is almost smooth, turn off the heat and leave your bowl to stand over the hot water until you’re ready to coat your truffles.

To decorate: Remove your chilled truffles from the fridge or freezer. Gently drop one ball at a time into the melted chocolate, turning it to coat evenly. Lift it out from the chocolate using a fork and spoon, one on each side, suspending the truffle over the bowl briefly so that any excess chocolate drips away. Gently place your coated truffle back onto the paper-lined baking tray, taking care not to mark the sides of the truffle with your fork.

Leave for a few seconds, until the surface of the chocolate clouds slightly (indication that the chocolate is setting). Sprinkle over a pinch of crushed hazelnut praline before the chocolate sets (gently press onto the surface with your fingers if required). Repeat with your remaining balls and chocolate.

Leave your truffles to set at room temperature, then store them in an airtight container. If desired, they can be refrigerated, however be aware that this increases the risk of ‘chocolate bloom’ (separation of sugar and fat from the cocoa solids, which results in the formation of a powdery white substance on the surface of your chocolate. This is usually caused by exposure of the chocolate to moisture and sudden temperature changes).


  • There are thousands of truffle recipes on the internet, most of which use a pure ganache as the truffle filling. I prefer using dense, flourless cake mixed with a little melted ganache and alcohol as the result is a dense, rich truffle that’s slightly less cloying (it’s a little like a cross between a cake pop and a truffle). The hazelnut meal in the Chocolate Truffle Cake also adds a delicious savoury note and a little extra nutrition (clutching at straws, I know!).
  • This recipe lends itself well to adaptations. Try adding some diced glace ginger into the mixture, some freshly chopped or dried mint leaves, peppermint essence, spices (cinnamon and cardamom, possibly with some dried chilli) or different nuts. Almonds work especially well with a complimentary splash of Amaretto in place of rum.
  • If you can’t be bothered with the melted chocolate, just roll your truffles in coconut, crushed pistachios or organic cocoa powder. Beautiful and deliciously easy (though in regards to the latter, don’t inhale whilst eating them… trust me).
  • You can pretty much use any chocolate in the process of making the Chocolate Truffle Cake… same goes for coating your truffles. White chocolate made with pure cocoa butter works well as an offset to a dark, bittersweet centre. I’d just recommend that you don’t buy compound or cooking chocolate of any type. Not only can you taste the difference, but there’s also a subtle textural variation due to the added vegetable fat and sweetener. When melted, this can produce a grainy consistency.
  • Your finished truffle balls can be frozen, uncoated, for up to one month. Just shape and freeze them in a single layer on a baking tray, then when they’re no longer sticky to touch, place them in an airtight container or snap-lock bag to freeze until ready for use.
  • This is a great way to use up any leftover cake sitting in your fridge. Lemon cake works especially well with some melted white chocolate and a splash of limoncello in the mixing stage. Before serving, coat the balls in pure white chocolate, then decorate with some candied lemon rind. Easy.

P.S. I finished this post at 7.52am. Yes, I did sleep and eat a bowl of Mini-Wheats in between.

chocolate truffle cake

Monday night, 6.00pm. I’m sitting on the couch in a T-shirt and shorts, absentmindedly peeling an orange whilst the sun dips below the horizon. The scent of citrus lingers in the air, and my fingers tap aimlessly on blackened keys. For the first time since starting this blog I’m admittedly suffering from the condition known as writer’s block.  Well… not to say that I’m producing a work of literary genius, but it’s definitely more attractive to read a blog post when it’s meaningful and orderly, as opposed to randomly assigned ideas in broken format.

So, chocolate. Clink. My ice-cubes spin in watery space, intermittently hitting the frosted glass with muffled sound. Predictably, this makes my mind wander towards thoughts of Summer heat: sand, flies, wafting humidity and volleyball by the ocean. A bit like yesterday, as a matter of fact, when a few of us gathered by the seaside for fish, chips and ice-cold ciders on the first 30 degree (86 degrees f) day of the season. That season being Spring, not Summer… the first week of which has brought a hailstorm, power cuts and everything in-between. Today was surprisingly a balmy 26 degrees (79 degrees f) with scattered patches of cloud and low humidity. Tomorrow’s forecast is cloud and rain. Go figure.

What’s any of this got to do with the recipe post for today? Well… nothing really. But since I’m already reading like a weather report I might as well start rambling about climate change, greenhouse emissions, accompanying ozone depletion and El Niño. Yep, I know. You’re not here for jumbled social commentary. You want rich, dense chocolatey goodness in a recipe format. So that’s what you’re going to get.

The recipe that you’ll find below is for a chocolate hazelnut cake that has recently become quite a hit in my office environment. In fact, during the sampling process there were actually cries of “Holy Mackerel Laura!” through my office door. As I can’t recall another occasion where I’ve heard that expression in my immediate vicinity, I thought it’d be appropriate to christen this confection as my ‘Holy Mackerel!’ Cake. That title didn’t quite make it to publication though… mostly because it’s associated with oily fish. Title, take two: Chocolate Truffle Cake. Much better.

This cake heavily leans on a recipe for Nutella Cake by Nigella Lawson, and like all of Nigella’s recipes it’s moist, decadent and complex in flavour. As it’s name suggests, it’s pretty much a boozy praline truffle in cake form, as there are layers of smooth hazelnut and bitter chocolate with a spiced rum finish.

Enjoy this cake in small slices with a dollop of cream, extra hazelnuts and shards of crisp praline. For the coffee-and-cake people amongst you, I’d also suggest a smooth shot of espresso… the warmth and bitterness cuts beautifully through the rich density of the cake.

Hazelnut Truffle Cake

Adapted from Nutella Cake by Nigella Lawson

Makes one cake

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 100g melted organic 70% dark chocolate
  • 400g/1 jar chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella or Oxfam Organic)
  • 100g (plus 50g extra, reserved) fresh hazelnut meal
  • 1-2 tbsp good quality rum
  • 1 quantity dark chocolate ganache (recipe below)
  • 1 cup hazelnut praline (recipe below)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Grease and line a round 23cm spring-form tin.

Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, then set aside. Melt dark chocolate and butter gently over a double boiler (glass bowl over a pot of simmering water) until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat, and beat in the chocolate hazelnut spread. Once smooth, set your chocolate mixture aside to cool slightly.

Using a fine sieve, sift your hazelnut meal into a bowl. Discard any larger pieces that have gathered in the netting, then weigh the remaining meal. If the total is under 100g, repeat the sieving process with your reserved meal until you have the appropriate quantity.

Add the sieved meal into your chocolate mixture with the egg yolks and rum. Fold the mixture together well with a spatula, and leave it to cool a little if necessary.

Once at room temperature, beat in a large dollop of egg white to lighten the mixture. When you can no longer see any defined white patches, gently fold in the rest of the egg whites a spoonful at a time. Discard any liquid that may have separated from the beaten whites.

Pour the mixture into your lined spring-form tin and bake for 40-60 minutes, depending upon the heat of your oven (mine is not fan-forced so I ended up baking it for about 55 minutes). When done, the cake should have risen slightly and a defined crust should have developed on the surface. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out with just moist crumbs attached.

Cool your cake in the tin over a wire rack. When it’s at room temperature, cover the tin with plastic wrap and place the cake into the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight. Chilling the cake makes it much easier to ice whilst also easing the process of removing it from the tin. Don’t attempt to peel the bottom lining off your cake whilst it’s still warm… it will collapse, and so will your baking confidence.

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

This quantity of ganache ices the top of the cake only, which to me is more than enough. If you wish to also cover the sides, I’d suggest doubling your ingredients.

  • 120ml thickened cream
  • 120g organic 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • a splash of rum (if desired)

Gently heat your cream over a double boiler on a low simmer. When it begins to steam (not boil) remove the bowl from the heat and carefully incorporate your chocolate and alcohol. Mix well with a balloon whisk, ensuring that you agitate the bottom of the bowl to remove any melted chocolate. Keep whisking until your mixture is smooth, evenly coloured and glossy (there should be no visible oil or grainy particles in the mixture; if you see these, your ganache has ‘split’. See ‘notes’ for instructions on how to fix it). Set aside to cool slightly.

As mentioned above, try to ice your cake whilst it’s still reasonably cool. It allows the ganache to set quicker (stopping an overflow on the edge) whilst also preventing any possible overheating which will again result in split, oily ganache.

Once your cake is on a presentation plate, spoon a dollop of ganache into the centre. Spread it from the centre to the edges in firm, even strokes using a palette knife or rubber spatula. Add more ganache as needed until you have a smooth, even surface, then leave the ganache to set slowly on your counter top (I find that placing the cake directly into the fridge at this point encourages cracks to develop). Once set, refrigerate until required. Just before serving, scatter over your hazelnut praline.

Hazelnut Praline:

Please note: This recipe involves the handling of very hot sugar syrup (to caramelize, sugar needs to reach around 160 degrees c/320 degrees f) which is almost impossible to quickly rinse or rib off the skin upon contact. It causes nasty burns and significant blistering, so don’t allow yourself to become complacent at any time in the cooking process.

  • 1 cup raw organic hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup white caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Place your hazelnuts on a dry baking tray, then toast them in the oven for 10 minutes or until the skins start to crack and peel away from the kernels. Remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. When easy to handle, place the nuts onto a clean tea-towel or piece of kitchen paper and rub them gently to remove the skins.

Prepare another baking tray by lining it with some greaseproof paper. Set this, and your skinned hazelnuts, aside.

Place your caster sugar into a heavy-based, dry saucepan over moderate heat. Cook, without stirring, until you see the sugar on the edges start to liquidize and bubble. At this point you can stir it gently with a fork until the mixture is free of any sugar granules. Use a clean pastry brush dipped in water to brush down any crystals that form on the sides of the pan.

Allow the mixture to simmer. Don’t be tempted to stir at this point as you might cause the sugar to seize. You will eventually see a dark toffee stain spread throughout the liquid sugar in patches. When this occurs you can gently agitate the pan until the entire mixture is a dark shade of gold. Add in your toasted hazelnuts, tossing to coat. Tip your mixture onto the lined baking tray, shaking it slightly to separate any clumps of nuts (remember this is hot sugar, don’t be tempted to use your hands). Leave it to set for at least half an hour.

To serve your praline, you can either blitz the lot in a food processor for a moderately fine crumb, or as per my photographs, just chop it roughly on a board. In either case, I’d recommend leaving some hazelnuts whole for both texture and presentation purposes.

I’d also suggest adding your praline just before serving the cake, as any residual moisture in the ganache will gradually melt the sugar (especially if condensation collects under cling wrap). Store any remaining praline in a cool place within an airtight container.


  • Ganache is made by combining cream and chocolate together into a smooth emulsion. Continued whisking breaks down the fat in both ingredients, allowing the particles to integrate. However, overheating the mixture can destabilize the emulsion which results in ‘splitting’.
  • Split ganache is recognizable by it’s oily, granular nature. Take a close look at your mixture; if it’s split you’ll be able to see a layer of oily cocoa butter floating on the surface. Don’t panic though, I usually find that I can fix the mixture in one of the following ways:
  1. If your mixture is still warm: add in another big spoonful of pure, cold cream. Whisk it in until the mixture returns to a shiny, smooth consistency.
  2. If your mixture has cooled: gently heat about 50ml of cream until it starts to steam. Add it into your mixture a little at a time, whisking continuously until the mixture recovers it’s smooth, shiny consistency.
  3. Use an electric hand whisk to try and vigorously re-emulsify the ingredients. This sometimes works as a last resort.
  4. If none of the above have saved your mixture then… well, you can try adding a little liquid glucose but I’d probably just bin the lot and start again. Sorry.
  • To prevent splitting, make sure that your cream is not overheated prior to adding your finely chopped chocolate. Whisk it well, and don’t leave your mixture unattended or the chocolate may melt unevenly (creating patches of oil, which might not re-emulsify) or seize (which will leave little chunks in your finished ganache).
  • If your mixture has seized, microwave the ganache in very short (15-20 second) bursts until there are no remaining solids in the mixture. Whisk well until it recovers its smooth, even sheen.
  • Substitutes: If you prefer almonds to hazelnuts, this cake works extremely well with the substitutions of almond meal and whole almonds in the praline. You can even experiment with Amaretto for a complete almond truffle experience.  Yum. If you dislike the thought of using bought chocolate hazelnut spread, you can easily substitute it for a homemade version as follows (thanks to the amazing recipe writers at all of these sites):
  1. Vegan, milk-free, lower-calorie chocolate hazelnut spread (with honey in place of sugar)
  2. Vegan chocolate hazelnut spread (with soy milk and powdered sugar)
  3. The whole shebang chocolate hazelnut spread (with condensed milk and dark chocolate… well, at least you know exactly what’s in it, right?)
  4. A real Italian version… buon appetito! (with hazelnut oil, cream and honey)
  • It goes without saying that any leftover chunks of this cake transform extremely well into truffles. Just mash your remaining cake crumbs in a bowl, add a little more liqueur if desired, then roll the mixture into balls. Coat your truffles in crushed, toasted nuts, leftover ground praline, organic cocoa powder, toasted coconut or more melted organic dark chocolate. Deliciously easy.
  • Oh, and if you want to prepare for the possibility of a Zombie Apocalypse, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has a whole host of online resources available for free. Check them out here (remember the double tap) whilst also reading about other interesting things such as… climate change! Yep, you’ve already had your chocolate goodness. Now I’m back to social commentary (no, not really).

Foot (not hand) note: the photo above was taken by Aaron on a recent stormy September night. The blustery rain of the afternoon turned into hail, and after some intermittent clatter on our windows the lights spluttered out. Power cut. After some lighting of candles, we sat huddled on the couch, happily eating chicken salad whilst sipping on cold berry cider with chilled fingers. Ice cubes clinked against glass, swimming in crimson, and despite the 4 degree (39 degrees f) temperature we felt warm in the flickering candlelight.

Three hours later, we returned to the land of technology and were welcomed by two successive episodes of Community. Awesome. Oh, and though my writer’s block seems to have turned into writer’s diarrhoea, the cider we drank was delicious… freshly crushed boysenberries, transformed into Boysencider by the guys and girls at the Old Mout Cidery in Nelson, New Zealand. Definitely recommended. With or without the power cut.

dark chocolate, mint and berry pavlova with hazelnut praline

A few years ago, I came across a recipe by Nigella Lawson for a chocolate pavlova topped with double cream, raspberries & chocolate shavings. It looked delicious, chocolatey and rich, and true to form I… well, I decided to make up my own version. That process basically involved making a traditional meringue with the late additions of raw cocoa, dark chocolate & syrupy balsamic. After another read of the recipe and some consideration, I also decided to eliminate my usual addition of cornflour. I suppose I assumed that in Nigella’s recipe, the cocoa would stabilize the meringue as needed.

Scooping the raw meringue onto a baking sheet, I was pleased – it looked beautiful, glossy and thick, studded with beads of deep, dark chocolate. The oven door closed with a soft thud. I glanced at the clock. Then I waited.

Fast forward a couple of hours and the now-cooled meringue disc was out of the oven, sitting proudly upon my kitchen bench. It looked beautiful, high and crisp, slight fault lines exposing a chocolate-studded marshmallowy interior. With a smile, I inverted it onto a serving platter, eagerly topping it with thick whipped double cream. This was where the beauty faded. A crack became a crater and before I knew it, the cream and cherry topping had fallen into a deep, dark hole. It still tasted delicious, but since then I’ve perfected my recipe to eliminate the crater whilst also altering it to become a meringue torte. As you’ll see, the stabilizing cornflour is back whilst other small changes such as fresh mint, homemade cherry jam and hazelnut praline create freshness, crunch and a dessert to remember.

As you might have guessed, this pavlova’s become a hit amongst family and friends, alongside another variation they call ‘Black Forest Pavlova’ due to it’s resemblance to a certain German torte. Like the cake, both variations are richly delicious, creamy, moist, and studded with juicy black cherries. The recipe below is for the mint and berry version, but check the included ‘notes’ for tips to transform it into a Black Forest. Try one for your next celebration, especially if you’ve got chocaholics on the list. You (and they) won’t be disappointed.

Dark Chocolate, Mint and Berry Pavlova with Hazelnut Praline

Serves 6-8

For the meringue:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 270g superfine caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp raw cocoa powder, sieved
  • 1 tsp of cornflour, sieved
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 80g dark chocolate (preferably 70% cocoa)

To serve:

  • 500ml full-fat whipping cream
  • Minted berry filling (recipe to follow)
  • 50g dark chocolate (preferably 70% cocoa), coarsely shaved
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut praline (recipe to follow)
  • Mint leaves & whole black cherries for garnish

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f).  Take two sturdy baking trays (at least 30x30cm in size) and cut a square piece of baking paper to fit each. Trace a central circle around 20cm in diameter (I use a 20cm diameter cake tin as a template) on each piece of baking paper, then set your lined trays aside.

Place your egg whites in a clean, dry mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, then add the sugar a spoonful at a time, beating until your meringue is stiff and shiny.

At this point, add your cocoa, balsamic, cornflour and chopped chocolate. Gently fold in with a spatula or balloon whisk until thoroughly mixed. Place half of your meringue on each paper-lined baking tray, in the centre of your traced circles. Smooth out to fill the circle, ensuring that your mound has a smoothish top and defined sides.

Turn your oven down to 150 degrees C (300 degrees f), then place your two trays in the oven (on central shelves, if possible). Cook for around 60-75 minutes, switching your trays half way through the cooking process. You will know your meringue is cooked when the exterior looks crisp and dry, and it feels hard beneath your fingers. Don’t wait for it to crack – this means that it’s already gone too far! When cooked, turn off your oven, leaving your meringue discs inside to cool with the door slightly ajar for at least 2 hours, or overnight (if you remove them at this point, they will cool too quickly and the meringue may crack and collapse).

To serve your meringue torte: Invert one of your meringue discs onto a large, flat bottomed serving plate. Whisk your cream until light and fluffy, then cover your meringue base with one third of your whipped cream, leaving a little ‘ridge’ around the edge to hold in your filling. Top this with half of your minted berry mixture, half of your hazelnut praline (recipes for both below) and half of your shaved chocolate. Cover this with a little more cream (to act as an adhesive for your next meringue), then place your other meringue disc on top.

Top your meringue with as much of the remaining whipped cream as you like, your remaining minted berry mixture, hazelnut praline, shaved chocolate and reserved whole cherries. I like to let some shaved chocolate and praline fall haphazardly on the plate’s rim. Add on your reserved mint leaves to garnish, then you’re all done. Serve generous slices as everyone’s sure to lick the plate.

Minted Berry filling:

  • 2 heaped tbsps black cherry jam (my favourite is Bonne Maman Cherry Preserve)
  • 200g fresh pitted black cherries (pitted and halved)
  • 250g punnet of fresh strawberries
  • One bunch of fresh mint (equivalent to 1/2 cup shredded leaves)

Place your cherry jam into a medium sized bowl. Add in the topped, halved strawberries (or quartered, depending upon the size of the fruit), pitted and halved cherries and shredded mint. Mix well and allow to macerate for at least an hour. If your fruit start to bleed and juice collects in the bottom of your bowl, don’t worry… this is normal. You can either serve the berries and juice as is, allowing some of the trickling dark juices to penetrate the meringue, or if preferred, strain your minted fruit and then reduce the remaining liquid in a saucepan (over high heat, allow mixture to come to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer until the fluid reaches a jammy consistency). Place your strained fruit on either layer of cream and drizzle a little reduced liquid as desired. I like option two, but remember to taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice if the concentrated juices are too richly sweet…  your meringue will be sweet enough.

Hazelnut Praline:

  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 1-2 tbsp of cold water

Place your hazelnuts on a baking tray and lightly toast them in the oven until you can see the skins start to loosen. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cool to the touch, wrap the nuts in a dry tea towel to form a ‘parcel’. Rub them vigorously to remove the skins. Any remaining skin should be easily removable with your hands or a blunt knife. Coarsely chop half of the nuts, leaving the other half whole. Place them on a baking-paper-lined tray.

Place the caster sugar in a shallow pan with the cold water, then agitate (I mean, move the pan about) until the water coats most of the sugar crystals. Cook over medium heat, stirring for five minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high, then bring mixture to the boil. Boil without stirring for 5-7 minutes or until the mixture begins to turn reddish gold. When this happens, even if it’s just in one corner, remove the pan from the heat and then agitate the mixture until the golden colour spreads throughout all of the liquid. You’ve just made a basic wet caramel (as opposed to dry caramel, which is made just by melting sugar crystals).

Allow mixture to cool slightly (any bubbles should subside), then pour your caramel over the prepared hazelnuts, covering them as evenly as possible. Allow to cool. Once the mixture solidifies, you can either break it into shards or as I do, coarsely chop it to scatter over your finished pavlova. Any leftover praline shards are delicious eaten on their own with coffee, or crumbled, to scatter generously over ice-cream.

Notes for a perfect Pavlova:

If you’ve developed a habit of producing meringue failures (or literal ‘flops’… haha I am so funny) then read on right here for troubleshooting tips:

  • Before you start, make sure that your bowl, whisk or beaters are completely clean, dry and free of grease. Any trace of oil, grease or moisture could be enough to prevent your egg whites from aerating.
  • Use fresh eggs, separate them when cold and then allow them to come to room temperature before whisking. From prior experience I’ve found that fresh eggs separate much better than older ones and have less obvious water content. They’re also a lot more stable once whisked, which makes them easier to work with when building your meringue disc.
  • If you get any eggshell or yolk in your mixture of whites, discard them and start again. This seems harsh, but any traces of yolk can spoil the composition of your whisked eggwhites, preventing your meringue from setting properly.
  • Make sure that all of your sugar is completely dissolved during the whisking process. Undissolved sugar will cause ‘weeping’, or beads of moisture to form on the meringue. A trick to tell if your sugar is dissolved is to rub a little bit of the uncooked meringue between your fingers – if you can feel any granules, keep whisking.
  • The addition of acid (including vinegar, lemon juice, citric acid) helps to stabilise your meringue, and makes the meringue ‘foam’ much less likely to suffer from the effects of overbeating (separation of the water from solids, meringue collapse, lumpiness). In other words, acid is good. Cornflour plus acid is even better.
  • For expanding the recipe: basic composition of a meringue is 55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar for each egg white. I play around with this a little but if you’re new to making meringues, use this as a guide.
  • If you’re worried about your meringue collapsing, use a palette knife to draw furrows around the edge. This will help support the edges of your pavlova to prevent it cracking and collapsing.
  • You can make meringues a couple of days in advance. Store them in an airtight container, away from heat and moisture, before use.

P.S. Apologies for the noticeable lack of images containing the entire filled pavlova. Unfortunately I assembled it at night and then made various attempts to photograph it under a range of artificial light sources. Epic fail, to say the least. So… if you want to see the full beauty of this mint, berry and cream laden mound of chocolate deliciousness, you’ll just have to make one yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Cashew Kitchen

vibrant food. quiet soul. wild at heart.

Brooklyn Homemaker

modern classic recipes, story telling, and a little bit of history. Oh yeah, and schnauzers.

better than a bought one

as homemade should be

My Sweet Precision

Where flour, butter, and sugar collide

The Veggy Side Of Me

Deliciousy Green...