Bittersweet Chocolate Praline Pate



Caramel sauce and hazelnut praline:
1 1/4 cups granulated  sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup coarsely chopped blanched hazelnuts
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Bittersweet chocolate pate:
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
9 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
6 tablespoons water
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt

Bittersweet ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Praline whipped cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons reserved praline

12 whole blanched hazelnuts, toasted
1 ounce white chocolate, melted according to the instructions in the Chocolate Key on page 65


Make the caramel  sauce and  hazelnut praline:
1. In a medium  heavy saucepan  combine the sugar and  lemon juice over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar begins to melt. Continue to cook 3 to 5 minutes,
tilting and swirling the pan occasionally to promote even melting. Wash down any sugar crystals that form on the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush.

2. Add the hazelnuts to the caramel. Cook, stirring frequently, until nuts are coated and caramel is deep amber. Remove the pan from the heat. With a slotted spoon, remove most of the nuts to buttered parchment paper. Slowly pour the heavy cream into the remaining caramel in the saucepan. Stir until smooth, placing the pan over low to melt caramel if necessary. Add the chopped white chocolate; stir until smooth. Caramel sauce may be made  a day ahead and stored  in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before using.

3. Cool the praline until it is completely hard and brittle. Break the praline into pea-sized pieces with a rolling pin or hammer. Reserve 2/3 cup of the pieces for the pâté. Place the remaining  pieces in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade; process until praline is finely ground. 

Make the bittersweet chocolate pate:

4. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat  to 325F. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf  pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper; butter the paper. 

5. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler; set aside. 

6. In a small heavy saucepan combine 6 tablespoons of the sugar and water over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a boil. Continue to boil mixture for three minutes.  Meanwhile, in the 41/2-quart bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar at high speed until they are pale yellow and thick, at least 5 minutes.  Pour the boiling syrup into the melted chocolate, whisking constantly (the mixture will be grainy).  Gradually whisk in the softened butter until the mixture is smooth and the butter is melted. 

7. In a large bowl using a rubber spatula, fold the yolk mixture into the chocolate until just combined. Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form when the beater if lifted; fold into the chocolate mixture just until combined. Fold in the reserved hazelnut praline chunks; scrape into the prepared pan.

8. Set the loaf pan in large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with water halfway  up the side of the loaf pan. Bake for 52  to 55 minutes or until crust forms on top of pate and center is set. Remove the pate from water bath; cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Transfer the pate to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

9. Cut a piece of heavy cardboard slightly smaller than the loaf pan; cover in aluminum foil. To unmold, invert the loaf pan with the cardboard on top of the pate. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours.

Make and pour the bittersweet ganache:

10. In a heavy saucepan bring the cream to boil over high heat. Remove from heat; add the chopped bittersweet chocolate. Whisk until smooth and the chocolate is completely melted. Cool 5 minutes. 

11. Place the chocolate pate loaf with its supporting cardboard on a wire rack set over a jelly roll pan. Pour the bittersweet chocolate ganache over the top and sides of the pate to cover completely. Let stand 10 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, scrape excess ganache from the bottom edge of pate. Transfer to serving plate.

Make the praline whipped cream:

12. Meanwhile, in the 41/2-quart bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, beat the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons reserved finely ground praline until stiff peaks form. Place the praline whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Set aside.

To assemble the pate loaf:

13. Pipe rosettes of praline whipped cream on top of the pate. Garnish with the whole, toasted hazelnuts and sprinkling of finely ground praline.

To plate the dessert:

14. Cut 1/2-inch slices of the cold pate with a hot knife cleaned between each cut. Place the  slice upright on a serving plate. Spoon 3 tablespoons the caramel sauce on the plate. Place the melted white chocolate in a pastry bag fitted with a small writing tip. Pipe white chocolate dots onto the caramel sauce. Pull the dots into attractive patterns with a skewer. Sprinkle the edge of the plate with some finely ground praline. Serve at room
temperature with Sandeman’s Founder’s Reserve Premium Ruby Port.