It is a while since I made pralines, so I thought to do some to use up my leftover caramel from the banoffee cupcakes. I have a numerous chocolate moulds but I have to say I prefer the hard plastic ones over the silicone, but I gave it a go. You can use any filling you like this time I choose the new hit: salted caramel. At the first time I made this salted caramel chocolate the filling was too salty, so be careful not to overdone the saltiness. Also it was the quickest ever and would make a nice Christmas present for family. For a detailed guide how to temper milk or white chocolate(to have a nice, shiny cover) I used this website.
Salted Caramel Pralines
150 g dark chocolate (I used 70,4% cocoa solid one from Callebaut)
1.5 g cocoa butter(1% of your total chocolate amount)
120 g caramel (I used Nestle Carnation)
pinch of sea salt
You will need a chocolate mould (either a silicone or hard plastic) a digital thermometer a paint brush and a pyrex bowl over simmering water in a pan.
Place 2\3 of the chocolate in the pyrex bowl over simmering water in a pan. In order to get accurate reading from the digital thermometer watch out that the end of the probe should be in the chocolate mass but without touching the bottom of the bowl. So you checking the temperature of the chocolate and not the bowl. Keep stirring with a silicone spatula until it reaches 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46C).
When it reached the right temperature take off from the heat and immediately place the pyrex bowl in a bigger bowl filled with cold water. Add the remaining of the chocolate and stir gently to incorporate. When it is mixed add the cocoa butter and keep stirring until the mix temperature drops to 84 Fahrenheit (29C).
Return the chocolate above the warm mater and until the temperature reaches 88 Fahrenheit (31C), now the chocolate is ready to pour into the mould. The mould should be clean and dry, preferably cleaned with a muslin cloth.
I used the paint brush technique because I don't like wasting expensive chocolate.
Basically there are two techniques when it comes to moulding: melt enough chocolate to fill all cavities to the top(double the amount of chocolate I described), leave it to create a shell around the mould and pour off the excess(therefore creating a lot of leftover chocolate/and unless you going to use it for something else it is too expensive just to use it for hot chocolate etc. In the chocolate factories it doesn't matter as they going to use it anyway, but at home....
So I used the paint brush technique: melt only the necessary amount and pour it to the mould. Using a simple brush start spreading the chocolate to the top of each mould cavity. Keep repeating the process until you think the shell around the mould is thick enough.
This is the part where you have to experiment. The time required depends on your chocolate, your mould and the temperature in your kitchen. If you pour out the chocolate too soon the shell won't hold the filling and will break, but if you leave it for too long the chocolate shell will be too thick and the ratio of the filling to the chocolate will be unbalanced. I did both at the beginning, but it is all about learning. Now I generally have a feeling when it is right, usually it only needs 2-3 minutes.
When it is ready turn the mould up side down (place the chocolate bowl beneath it) and tap to the side of the bowl a couple of times. Scrape off the excess chocolate and place the mould into the fridge to harden.
In the meantime you can prepare the filling. This time it was easy: I took the ready caramel heated a little in the microwave and added a pinch of two sea salt. Don't be tempted to add more as the salty flavour will intensify with time. I did this mistake as well at the first time, I made a caramel sauce that was just deliciously salty...by the time I take it off from the mould it was more than pleasantly salty.
Pour the filling into a plastic piping bag and place it to the fridge to cool down.
When the chocolate is ready pour the caramel filling to 2/3 of the cavities, leaving enough space to close the chocolates. Put the mould back to the fridge.
When the caramel filling hardened the only job left is to close the chocolates. Somebody repeats the whole tempering process........well I just reheat the chocolate if needed to the right temperature(31C) and spread on top, scraping off the excess -nobody going to watch the bottom of the chocolate but if you quick enough you should manage the whole process with the tempered chocolate still at the right temperature so it will be shiny.
Hint and tips:
If you don't like salted caramel you have numerous other options>
My old favourite filling is the rum-soaked raisins and sweet chestnut puree. In Hungary we have a sweetened chestnut puree, what we defrost and pass it through a potato mash, eating with whipped cream on top (truly delicious).
Just add 100g sweet chestnut puree to about 80ml whipped double cream and rum soaked raisins................hmmmm.
Some of the other fillings I used to make: Amaretto soaked apricots with marzipan, chocolate cream with pistachio, lemon curd, peanut butter and raspberry jam. Below is a picture of my very first try featuring the flavours I mentioned above made by my plastic moulds: