Making Praline Paste
Perfectly smooth, commercially-made praline paste is ubiquitous in many parts of Europe. Here in the States it’s virtually unknown. However once you taste it I have no doubt it will quickly attain a place of prominence in your spread pantheon — alongside nutella, peanut butter, jam and, for you Aussies and Brits, vegemite and marmite. It’s also very handy as a pastry ingredient, obviously. Begin by assembling your ingredients. The praline comes first. Lay the nuts out on a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper.
Then make the caramel. Combine the sugar and the water in a pan…
…and swirl over high heat until it’s the darkness you prefer. I wait until I see wisp of smoke or two since I like mine with a slightly more pronounced flavor. Most people prefer theirs a slightly lighter amber.
Anyhow…pour the caramel over the nuts and allow the caramel to cool completely.
When cool, break up the praline and put the pieces in your food processor (you can also first break down the praline by putting it in a plastic bag and hitting it with a mallet, that will save some wear and tear on your food processor blades if you decide you want to do this a lot — thanks to reader Ed for the tip!).
Start processing the praline. After about 30 seconds or so you may start to wonder if you’ve done something wrong, since it pretty much stays a bunch of crumbs.
However after another 30 seconds or so you’ll start to see that the oil is leaking out of the chopped nuts and beginning to create a more butter-like mixture.
Another 30 seconds or so and you should have something that resembles home-made peanut butter. If not, if you’re having a hard time breaking down the praline, you can prime the pump with a tablespoon or two of oil. A nut oil is ideal (walnut oil, say), though a less expensive oil like peanut will work very well too. Failing that, a neutral vegetable oil will work just fine.
To reduce the particle size still further you can take this paste for a spin in your blender. That’s what I did to get my final, barely grainy consistency. But you may decide after tasting it that you don’t need to take things to that degree. It tastes amazing either way. Oh, and did I mention that for a subtle, slightly salty taste that sets the caramel off even more, you might want to add a quarter teaspoon or more of salt? I didn’t, no. Shame on me.
52 thoughts on “Making Praline Paste”
Not toasting the nuts?
Why not do it in a blender from the beginning, instead of switching to the blender for a finer paste?
Blanched nuts work just fine, but you can toast them if you’d like for an even fuller flavor. As far as the blender goes, mine won’t pulverize praline from the get-go, it gets gunked up rapidly. However it will finish the paste after the food processor has done most of the work. Yours might work differently. If so…great!
Oh my, do I love this stuff–thanks for posting. It is so-o-o handy for a pastry/dessert maker–that is once you’ve already made it and have it on hand. Since I really TRY to keep my recipes fairly simple for those who don’t aspire to be pastry chefs ;-), I don’t call for it very often. I’m hoping it will catch on in US, & become more available. In the meantime, I’ve had good luck with the roasted hazelnut praline paste sold by American Almond Company. (They sell good nut pastes, too.) Only problem is they aren’t easy to find; I have ordered on-line & had them shipped. Hope this is helpful. Also, hope your time away was enjoyable.
It was very useful indeed! Thanks!
How long will this keep (assuming I don’t just eat it one sitting) and what is the best way to store it?
It will keep pretty much indefinitely in a sealed container at room temperature, just like peanut butter. But to your point, it tends not to last very long. 😉
I add my nuts to the pan of caramel just before it reaches the color I want and swirl them together for a minute. I know, I know, I am risking crystalization, but the heat from the caramel “toasts” the nuts a bit. (Reader Chana like that results) I them pour the whole shootin’ match out on the silpat…
Yep, that’s another perfectly viable way to go!
This paste is definitely calling my name! My mind is just running with things to do with it!
I’m just another girl who didn’t know praline paste existed. However it sounds amazing, delicious and something I might be able to accomplish!
Go for it, Sammie!
How would you go about making Gianduja paste?
I don’t know how to make that, though there’s a Nutella recipe under the components menu on the site!
Can I use this paste to fill sponge cake? I am thinking of filling the cake layers alternating between praline paste and chocolate whipped cream.
I would think a thin layer would be fine for filling sponge cake, however my feeling is you’d do better mixing it with at least some pastry cream.
Thank you. I will try that out.
I mixed the praline paste with pastry cream and found that the flavour of caramel came through stronger than the flavour of the nuts. This could be because I mainly used chopped nuts and not blanched whole ones. This could have led to a loss in flavour.
Thanks for your suggestion. This is a recipe modification that I will be repeating.
Yes, I think you’re correct that chopped nuts don’t provide as much flavor. Whole nuts should give you a much better result. Thanks for the email! – Joe
How much sugar, water, nuts do I need to make this? I understand the concept of how to make it, but how many cups, teaspoons, etc. do I need?
Hey Mary Ann!
Just go to the pastry components menu on the left, under “Praline Paste” and you’ll find the recipe!
if you add some corn syrup or glucose to your sugar and caramelised it , the caramel will not regranulated again and if you baked them a litlle you will get a lot more flavor and the hazelnut give more flavor than the almond , i use macadamia , cashew, pistachio, walnut , pecan . they all work great .thanks
Thank you! An excellent tip!
hi. a question. thankyou first. how does one make it so that for a small chocolate box, making pralines , 1- it does not melt
2- the filling stays dry. we have apricots and figs and cherries in here . but how do you keep them dry inside. i am a dentist . and this is a hobby thank you
Hello Dr. Tibar!
I’m sorry I haven’t replied until now, this message went to my trash folder by mistake. I confess I’m not certain what you’re asking. You are trying to make a chocolate box?
I don’t see anywhere the quantities for each ingridient. Can you please let me know how much water sugar and nuts, and what kind if nuts to use? I see peanuts and hazelnuts in the picture.
Just go here and scroll to the bottom!
can i have the exact ingrediants
Here you go!
Absolutely love your site! Thank you for the inspiration! Makes me want to enroll in patisserie program and move to Pairee :-D.
Ha! Thanks Mariana! Go for it! 😉
Wow, the paste looks great:)
I was just wondering, is peanut butter a viable substitute for praline paste?
Hi Lauren! Great question! The answer is yes, you can use peanut butter in most cases. It’s a little fattier but it works just about as well!
Hi – this looks great! I am hoping to make praline paste to put in a cheesecake (http://zoebakes.com/2011/02/08/chocolate-glazed-praline-cheesecake-with-candied-hazelnuts/#more-3390) – do you think that the paste will be smooth enough for a cheesecake?
It’s definitely not as smooth as a cheesecake filling, but that might make a nice texture contrast. Looks perfect for that decadent pastry!
This was AMAZING. It worked and was gorgeous in that cheesecake (which I also highly recommend). I was, as mentioned, worried that it would be grainy, but it wasn’t at all. The cake was smooth and tasted deliciously of hazelnuts. Thanks!
Thanks so much for getting back with me, Kay!
I couldn’t be happier that it worked so well!
My pastry course instructor turned me on to using praline paste as the flavoring component for Italian buttercream icing. With a nice moist chocolate/espresso cake it is sublime. Enjoy!
Whoa. I’m going to try that, Dave B.! Thanks!
I just love your blog! I am always directing people to it from Cake Central. I love making custom cakes but Ive never been much of a cook/baker. I have learned so much from your blog, the science behind baking is very intriguing (to me anyway) and I appreciate it greatly!
I know you said nutella/pb would work in place of praline paste, obviously with a different flavor profile, but can I use this to make a hazelnut/caramel cake? Or should I use toasted ground hazelnuts? I realize there are extracts but I prefer to use high quality & natural ingredients when possible. I guess my question is will the flavor bake out?
I have to try this in BC, as Dave B suggested! Thanks again for your excellent recipes/tutorials as well as your willingness to share your knowledge!
Thanks very much for the kind words! I’m glad you’re having fun here…I definitely do!
In regard to your question, are you talking about adding this to the cake batter? That’s possible. The yeast won’t affect the flavor, though I don’t think it will have a strong enough flavor to be very noticeable. Of course it works well as a filling and can be incorporated into a buttercream as you say. Let me know if I’ve answered your question!
My chocolatier’s recipe book states that one should buy praline paste as it is such a hassle to make… Rubbish! Thank you for the recipe. My kenwood chef easily blitzed the mixture to the oil extraction stage and the resulting pistachio pralines are exceptional. They are now in several friends Christmas presents.
We’ll foil those factory-made component makers yet! Cheers and have a merry Christmas!
When I see “Praline”, I immediately think of pecans. Can pecans be used in any amount or with the almonds??????
I don’t see why you can’t use pecans, M. Just remember that they’re about 70% oil while almost are about 55% oil. So you’ll want to use fewer of them so the paste doesn’t come out soupy.
Praline Paste is new to me! What do you do with it once you made it? Is it for a topping, like on ice cream?
You sure can use it for that, though it makes a great addition to pastry cream, whipped cream or buttercream. As a flavoring agent, in other words. Though I’ve been know to eat it with a spoon!
Cheers and enjoy it,
I miss your blog! I have a can of pure (100%) pistachio paste and would like to know if it’s possible to use this as the nut portion in a pistachio praline paste. Could I make the caramel and combine the two? Most pistachio praline paste recipes contain some almond and seem to be about 60% nuts. The pistachio paste was VERY expensive, so I hate to waste it by experimenting.
Sorry for the long wait, Carol! That should work. Pistachios and almonds have just about the same fat content, and a very similar consistency. But let me know how it goes! I suggest trying just a little bit…just in case. If it doesn’t work for some reason you can use the pistachio pass for candies, filling or something else!
I heated the sugar and water to 116°C, and then added the nuts. It crystallized, but after 5 mins the sugar melted again and became caramel. I don’t think it matters if it crystallizes… Anyway I’m making it again but I don’t have a food processor or blender. I tried using a handheld blender, but it isn’t working. What should I do?
You’re very right that the crystallization doesn’t really matter so long as you press on to the caramel stage as you did. As to the next step, lacking a food processor or blender you can always proceed in the classic guy way by pulverizing your pralines using some heavy object. Place them in a large freezer bag and hit them with whatever’s available. I like a big can of beans for this sort of thing, but a rubber or wooden mallet would be even better if you have such a thing handy. Once the particle sizes are small enough you might be able to put the hand-held blender to work and get it down to butter consistency. Call it the real man’s way of making praline paste. I wonder if there’s way to bring some power tools to bear on this?
Anyway, be careful of the fingers…and let me know how it goes!