What Mr William Curley doesn’t know about chocolate, cakes and desserts probably isn’t worth knowing. The prodigious Scottish chef has been named Britain’s Best Chocolatier no less than four times. He’s also a member of the Relais Desserts: an elite association of the world’s best pastry chefs. Suffice to say, Curley knows his stuff. His latest book – Nostalgic Delights – is an ode to “classic confections and timeless treats,” and it’s a must-read for Bake Off fans and sweet-toothed foodies alike. From walnut whips and curley wurlies to fudge doughnuts, Hobnobs and even Jaffa Cakes, Nostalgic Delights offers a haute patisserie take on some of our favourite childhood flavours.
Curley ensures that every single recipe is clearly explained and illustrated, making Nostalgic Delights an accessible pleasure for even novice pastry chefs, keen to create something to wow friends and family. And recipe-wise there’s everything from the must luxurious take on Bounties and Snickers to biscuits, ice cream, cakes, marshmallows, desserts…. We could go on, and on! There are also simple, easy-to-follow recipes for ‘basics’ such as salted caramel, choux pastry and praline paste – alongside explanations of how to temper chocolate and create showstopping chocolate decorations. This is a book to linger over – with nostalgia – before taking the plunge and trying one of the recipes out for yourself. So we’re delighted to get you started with this Nostalgic Delights recipe to tantalise your tastebuds – for the Ambassador’s favourite, no less: hazelnut rochers….
This evokes memories of a tower of gold-wrapped chocolates, reserved only for special occasions. I can picture my mother presenting a plate of these on Christmas day, for them only to be devoured within minutes; it really was a luxurious treat. I have used Amedei Gianduja in the ganache for this recipe, which is made with the best Piedmont hazelnuts, giving the chocolates a lasting creaminess. This recipe makes 80 chocolates.
For the Praline Ganache:
320ml (11fl oz/1⅓ cups) whipping (pouring) cream
1 vanilla pod (bean), split and scraped
40g (1½ oz) invert sugar
300g (10½oz) Gianduja chocolate, finely chopped
160g (5½oz) dark (bittersweet) chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
55g (1¾ oz/3½ tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
For the Nutty Chocolate:
500g (1lb 2oz) tempered milk chocolate
250g (9oz) roasted nibbed almonds
100g (3½oz/⅔ cup) whole roasted hazelnuts
200g (7oz) feuillantine wafer, crushed
Edible gold leaf
You will also need:
A piping (pastry) bag
12mm (½ inch) nozzle (tip)
A dipping fork
Make the Praline Ganache…
Put the cream in a saucepan and scrape in the seeds from the split vanilla pod (bean). Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the infused cream into a clean saucepan, add the invert sugar and bring to the boil.
Put the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Pour the boiled cream over the chocolate and mix until emulsified and a ganache consistency is formed. Add the softened butter and mix well until fully incorporated. Leave to set at room temperature for about 1–2 hours.
Put the Praline Ganache in a piping (pastry) bag fitted with a 12mm (½ inch) nozzle (tip). Pipe small bulbs of the ganache onto a silicone-lined tray.
Put a whole roasted hazelnut onto each bulb of ganache.
Pipe a larger bulb of ganache on top of each hazelnut and leave to set for 1 hour in a cool, dry area.
Make the Nutty Chocolate…
Temper the milk chocolate and add the nibbed almonds. If the chocolate thickens, warm it slightly.
Roll each bulb into a sphere and coat in feuillantine wafer.
Use a dipping fork to dip each prepared chocolate sphere into the Nutty Chocolate. Place each chocolate on a silicone-lined tray to set for 1–2 hours in a cool, dry area. Decorate with gold leaf to finish.
These chocolates will keep for 1 week stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry area.
Recipe and images extracted from Nostalgic Delights by William Curley, photography by Kevin Summers, published by Jacqui Small.