Chocolate hazelnut caramels

A simple recipe that is sure to impress

You might have noticed from my site that one of the things I enjoy about cooking is the practical application of science (chemistry, biology and physics) delivered with a little bit of artistic flare!

One thing that really demonstrates this is making chocolates. Chocolate is a fascinating substance, when it is liquid, it is a non-Newtonian fluid, cool in the right way and it forms a perfect crystal structure leading to crisp, snappy shiny chocolate, get it wrong and the results are dull, cloudy, and unsatisfying.

I think every cook should have a go at tempering chocolate, it really demonstrates the huge difference the right processes make in cooking.

This recipe is a great introduction to making your own filled chocolates and it really impresses. I make as gifts to take to friends, or for a special occasion.

I highly recommend using Callebaut chocolate for tempering and chocolate making – it comes in helpful little buttons and can be easily melted in the microwave – it is also a delicious Belgium chocolate. It is available from specialist retailers and online.

Makes about 15 chocolates and takes about an hour and a half, including setting time.

You will need…

  • 50g whole hazelnuts
  • 120g dark chocolate, Callebaut 811
  • 120g white chocolate, Callebaut W2
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 80g double cream
  • 10g dark muscovado sugar
  • Pinch of salt

You will need a hemispherical polycarbonate chocolate mould and a digital pen thermometer.

To make chocolates…

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan / 180C non-fan. If using hazelnuts in their shells then crack and remove the nut. Put onto a small tray and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Once cool, peel off and discard any loose skin and break the nuts into halves.
  2. Put the dark chocolate in a small glass bowl and microwave in 15-second intervals to melt. Stir with a spatula until it reaches a temperature of 31-32C on the cooking thermometer.
  3. Using a pastry brush paint the inside of 15-18 hemispherical moulds with a thin layer of dark chocolate. Hold up to the light to help see if all areas are covered. Clean the edges with a metal bench scraper. Put in fridge to set.
  4. Make the caramel by putting the caster sugar into a small pan and setting over a medium-high heat. Cook the sugar until melted and a medium dark syrup is formed. Whilst the syrup is cooking add the muscovado sugar to the cream and warm in a microwave for 30 seconds. Pour in the cream and stir quickly to form a caramel (watch out it will be quite volcanic). Add the salt and set aside to cool.
  5. Once the caramel is cool and shells are set put the caramel in a small piping bag and snip the end off. Pipe a little into the bottom of each shell. Add half a nut (or a whole, if they are small) and top with more caramel leaving a few millimetres clearance for chocolate. Put in the fridge to set.
  6. Meanwhile, put the white chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave in 15-second intervals to melt. Stir with a spatula until it reaches a temperature of 28-29C.
  7. Add the white chocolate to the top of the caramel and use a metal bench scraper to smooth the top.
  8. Put in fridge to cool for 30 minutes to set.
  9. Release from mould by tapping the mould firmly on a clean surface. Leave the chocolates to reach room temperature and enjoy! Chocolates will keep for several days at room temperature (though they rarely last that long).