A Cornish girl's food adventures

Petit praline tarts

How about these for a sweet treat? Crisp little pastry shells filled to the brim with homemade chocolate and caramelised hazelnut ganache. You know you wouldn’t be able to say ‘no’ to one of these (or two, or three).
The trick with these is to roll the pastry as thin as possible so that you can maximise the amount of filling you can fit into them – it’s all about ratios!
Provided that you have a fairly robust food processor making your own ‘praline’ isn’t really that hard, although you do obviously need to be extremely careful with the hot caramel.

makes 15
125g plain flour
50g butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
splash of very cold water
50g skinned hazelnuts
100g sugar
20ml water
100g milk chocolate
100ml double cream
pinch of sea salt

Kick things off by making the pastry. If you have a food processor then this can be made very quickly and easily. Just add the flour, sugar and butter to the food processor and whizz it up until it looks like ground almonds. With the food processor running at a slow speed add the egg yolk and just enough cold water to bring it all together to form a soft dough.
If you don’t have a food processor then gently rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips and then mix through the sugar. Again use the egg yolk and a touch of water to bring the dough together.
Wrap the dough in cling-film and pop it in the fridge to chill for 20 to 30 minutes. Grease your mini tart tins and pre-heat your oven to 180°c.

Once the dough has rested unwrap it and gently roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is a few millimetres thick, try to get it as thin as possible. Use a cookie cutter to cut out discs the right size for your tart tins and gently press the pastry into the tins. Prick the bases of the tarts with a fork, cover each one with a small piece of greaseproof paper and then pile on some baking beans. Bake the pastry cases for 20 minutes and then uncover them and bake them for a further 10 minutes. Once the tart shells are nicely golden leave them to cool on a wire rack.

Either oil a baking sheet or cover one with a silicone mat and set it aside. Combine the sugar and water for the praline in a heavy frying pan and then put it over a gentle heat. Resist the urge to stir it and let it bubble away until the sugar becomes a lovely deep golden caramel. Carefully stir the hazelnuts through this and then immediately pour onto the prepared baking sheet. Leave to cool and harden.
Once it’s cold and set firm break it into chunks and put it in a food processor. Grind it as finely as you can, ideally so it’s no more coarse than something like ground almonds. Roughly chop the chocolate and put it in a bowl. Heat the cream (in a pan or in the microwave) so that it’s quite hot but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for a minute or two before stirring well, so that it’s combined into a smooth ganache. Fold the ground hazelnuts into this.
Use this hazelnut ganache to fill each of the tart cases, right up to the brim. Pop the tarts in the fridge so that the filling can set and become firm. Decorate with a little plain chocolate if you like.

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