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Ganache v praline
November 29, 2005
11:50 pm
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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Hi All,

I've tried doing a search of the previous messages but didn't manage to turn anything up. I was wondering if someone could explain the difference between ganache (cream, chocolate and, sometimes, butter) and praline (which I haven't made before).

Cheers

November 30, 2005
1:20 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Ah, the confusing language of chocolate. The trouble is that many people will use different words in regards to the same thing: filled chocolates. A filled chocolate is broadly (and more appropriately) referred to as a "bonbon" to encompass all types. But there are some who mistakenly use the term truffle, which actually refers to cream and ganache rolled in cocoa powder (hence the name, "truffe"). Then there are others (mainly Belgians) who use the word praline to refer to filled chocolates, more specifically those with nut and chocolate centers.

Praline - Pronounced "pray-leen" in English but "prah-li-nay" in French; the original version is called "praslines" and was simply an almond coated in caramelized sugar, devised in 1636 by Clement Lassagne; now it has to come to mean nuts (any nuts, usually almonds and hazelnuts, but seeds can be used as well) and caramelized sugar ground into a fine paste and used as the centers of chocolates, which are also referred to as pralines. Chocolate is added to the paste as well.

In many European countries, such as Germany, England, and Sweden, many still refer to any filled chocolate as a praline regardless of interior. However, when you step into America, particularly New Orleans and Texas, praline takes on new meaning. Pronounced "praw-leen," the treat is basically a round and relatively flat confection comprised of pecans embedded in a creamy disc of butter, cream, and brown sugar. Pecans were used in this confection due to lack availability of almonds and hazelnuts.

November 30, 2005
10:52 am
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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Thanks for that. The terms bonbon and truffle were also causing me a bit of confusion (and the deep south American praline term wasn't helping either). All cleared up now it seems. One of the problems with chocolates in Australia (especially making them) is that some language/terminology is taken from Europe and some from the US and it can take a bit of interpretation. Glad its all cleared up now [:)]

November 30, 2005
4:13 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Yeah, that's the "trouble" with acculturation, yet I think it's interesting from a linguistic and cultural standpoint, since it reflects just how adaptive the English language can be, not to mention concepts and foods in general.

December 1, 2005
3:56 am
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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Also, it wouldn't be fun if we understood everything the first time through. Discovery of terms, concepts and techniques from different parts of the world is one of the enjoyable parts of the chocolate making experience.

January 10, 2006
5:12 am
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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Hi All,

I just wanted to re-open this discussion and see if anyone had a "traditional" praline recipe as mentioned by Montegrano above. I am testing a lot of new recipes from a new book I got for Christmas but it assumes easy access to Praline filling and the like. While I can get it, I'm not sure I need a 5kg bucket for recipe testing so I was wondering if it was possible to make a praline filling (nuts and caramelised sugar ground into a paste with chocolate).

Is it possible to simply make a brittle nut caramel, grind it in a food processor to powder form and add to melted chocolate? Or is it more complicated? What should the ratios between ingredients be?

Any help is appreciated

January 10, 2006
5:41 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Well, the original praline was simply almonds coated in caramelized sugar...basically make a brittle without the excess hardened sugar in between. Many recipes of this abound, so no problem with acquiring those.

What you're talking about sounds a lot like nougatine, which is basically a brittle, but the nuts are chopped finely and scattered throughout the sugary mass. This can be eaten as is and it also used extensively in desserts, but many chocolatiers smash it to pieces and incorporate it into chocolate for bars. Marcolini, for example, makes a wonderful bar like this.

Praline fillings, otoh, are made with ground nut paste and chocolate. And if this is what you're seeking, then I would recommend that you buy a smaller container because you will never be able to grind nuts into a fine enough paste for a smooth texture. Not in a regular food processor anyway. It will always be gritty and slightly coarse. I almost burned mine out once from excessive grinding! I've tried with a variety of nuts, though, and found that the drier the nut, the grittier the paste will be (e.g. hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, etc.) Also, I have found that using liquefied sugar is better when making such fillings anyway since the mass will then be more pliable and easy to work with. Granular sugar has more often than not resulted in a crumbly mess and caused a few words of frustration to part my lips (although I never tried powdered sugar!). I'm not too certain of the ratio here either, since all my notes and cookbooks are not with me atm.

January 10, 2006
11:58 pm
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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Thanks for the tips. I managed to track down a few recipes last night as well. Now its just a matter of finding the time to do a bit of experimenting

January 11, 2006
4:49 am
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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Another query on the topic of Praline Paste. In Australia we have a commercial product called Nutella (I think it may be Italian origin) which is a chocolate spread made from hazelnuts and cocoa. Does anyone know if Nutella makes a suitable substitute for Praline Paste? (Ie., similar fat ratio etc).

January 11, 2006
5:47 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Nutella is indeed of Italian invention, but it is a product name, not a company. It is produced by the Ferrero company, which is the same company that also makes those Rocher balls, Tic Tacs, those adorable little Kinder Eggs I loved as a child, and some other things as well. Nutella is available all across the world, but other companies are producing superior versions of this spread. Although Ferrero doesn't produce what you're referring to, check out their Italian site for their full product range. It's interesting to view regardless:

http://www.ferrero.it/

January 12, 2006
12:10 am
deb
Calgary, Canada
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What is the difference between ganache and mousse. What are the ingredients for Mousse. Also when I see chocolates advertised with whipped cream is this a play on words in which it is essentially a ganache?

January 12, 2006
4:26 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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First of all, a mousse can be either sweet or savory, hot or cold, and as such, it doesn't even have to contain chocolate at all. Mousse is French for "froth" or "foam" and can include such ingredients as fruit, fish, and spices. Mousse is typically made with cream and egg whites that have been whipped until light and foamy, hence the name. Gelatin is sometimes added as well so that the resulting mousse can maintain a whipped, wobbly, and creamy texture/composure. Ganache, otoh, is a mixture of heated cream and melted chocolate and generally comes in different consistencies based on ratio of chocolate to cream. The more chocolate, the firmer the ganache, and ultimately, the richer it will be too. Sauces are often lumped in this category as well, and if you abide by this reasoning, then a basic sauce is basically 1:2 (one part chocolate:two parts cream) for pouring consistency; this will generally remain liquid even when chilled and is thus great for ice cream and even suitable as a rich beverage. Ganaches that you find in bonbons and other confections generally have two baseline ratios to which people gravitate, but of course, variations exist according to personal bias. A firm ganache is basically 2:1 (two parts chocolate:one part cream); and a thin ganache is 1:1 (equal amounts of each). When you start adding things to it, such as corn syrup, to change the consistency (e.g. glazes), this is not ganache.

Some chocolates will contain whipped cream in the center, sometimes on a layer of ganache and others mixed with the ganache itself. Martine's Chocolate practices both techniques and the results are outstanding. Some pieces are layered: sometimes, a layer of freshly whipped cream is embedded on top a layer of ganache or hazelnut praline, and other times she mixes the whipped cream with the ganache to achieve a mousse-like semblance. Bascially, the Belgian style of chocolate making really facilitated the widescale production of these sorts of centers, since beforehand, pieces required firmer centers to be enrobed by a heavy layer of chocolate.

January 14, 2006
2:53 pm
deb
Calgary, Canada
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What is the shelf life of the chocolate if using whipped cream. Also what is used to prevent the whipping cream from going from a fluffy state to a liquid. Does anyone have a recipe example with "whipped Cream" in it. I imagine I just use whipped cream but like I just stated how do I prevent it from liquifying when it is in the chocolate. Do you add a stabalizing agent of some sort?

January 14, 2006
3:30 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Usually, the bonds between the protein and fat molecules are more than sufficient to maintian a fomay structure, but additives are sometimes added for insurance. Carageenan, for example, bonds with the milk proteins for extra strength, thus enabling the foam to retain more air. Emulsifiers (mono- and diglycerides, e.g. glycerol monostearate) replace some of the proteins and allows the fat molecules to fuse together. Such compounds, however, do occur naturally in dairy products, but adding more extends life. Cream of tartar is frequently used to stabilize egg whites when beaten to a foam.

To be honest, I've never required the need of any additives to maintain a fluffy whipped cream or meringue (except for cream of tartar in the latter, but even this is optional I have discovered). This is for a couple reasons, the first of which explained here, and the rest below in the second paragraph (the obvious one). First of all, when you incorporate any delicate mixture of that nature into something else, it is crucial that you fold the aerated mixture INTO whatever it is that you're working with, whether it's a cake batter or a ganache. Folding will impose as little damage to the aerated structure as possible, and you'll still end up with a light mixture in the end. Some people like to work in batches to minimize breakage, while others combine all at once. Do what works for you.

Whipped cream ideally will last for a couple days max. Any time after that, I find that it spoils. Why? The incorporation of air expedites oxidation in the mixture, which therefore reduces its life dramatically. For the sake of brevity, oxidation is basically decomposition, whether the inflicted object is rust or our human bodies. And since the volume of air in whipped cream is greatly larger than in "regular" cream, the shelflife is reduced by nearly 80%. Moral? Freshness is key.

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