Given that I hadn’t baked in a while, there was no way I was going to let a 3-day weekend go by without firing up my oven. A quick flip through a couple of newly acquired books and I settled on an orange hazelnut praliné bûche.
All right, so it’s not Christmas yet, but one shouldn’t need to wait till Christmas to bake a log cake, no? Especially not when said cake consists of orange compote and hazelnut praline, both made from scratch. I was sold just at the thought of these two components, although I did have some doubts about how the overall taste would be when eaten together in a cake.
The orange compote was made by simmering whole oranges (preferably organic, for obvious reasons) in water for 3 hours, cutting the boiled oranges in small pieces, sauteeing the orange pieces in butter and sugar and then reducing the entire concoction. The resulting compote was further chopped to achieve a chunky and thick jam consistency.
The praliné looked simple enough to make: make a sugar syrup, pour toasted hazelnuts into the syrup and stir until hazelnuts are coated with crystallised sugar. Continue to cook hazelnuts and sugar until sugar melts and caramelizes to a dark brown colour. This deceptively simple process took me a good 45 minutes, so imagine my dismay when the caramelized nuts began to turn slightly sticky, courtesy of the lovely humid weather here in Singapore.
Fortunately, most of the praliné was to be ground and used as ingredients for the cake and buttercream. In the end, I was happy with how the bûche turned out (although I could have used a little less buttercream when covering the cake). Who’d have thought that hazelnuts and orange would go so well together?
Raspberry Dark Chocolate Tart with Cocoa Nib Croustillant
Emboldened by my sucess, I went on to try another recipe from the same book - a raspberry chocolate dessert built on a sturdy sable breton base. It was actually the almond croustillant decoration in the recipe that I was more interested in than the tart itself. But since I didn’t have almond nibs on hand, I decided to go with an alternative cocoa nib croustillant recipe I’d found in another book.
The end result was not bad, but again, the humidity wasn’t very suitable for croustillant making; the decorative pieces which had set firm at room temperature quickly softened when taken out of the refrigerator. I might try cutting down on the amount of butter the next time or go with almond nibs instead. My poor Silpat did not take kindly to the copious amount of butter in the crousillant!