Chocolate Pastry Cream Cups with Candied Hazelnuts

As I’ve been talking about for the last week, I helped provide desserts for a friend’s baby shower. At first it started simple, with cookies. Then, I decided to make a chocolate cake. When I was making the cookies, they were supposed to be more domed, like ice cream. I thought it would look cute to put them in chocolate cups and make them look like ice cream scoops. That’s where the idea for the candied hazelnuts first came from. Well, I had leftover pastry cream from the cake, and the cookies didn’t look like ice cream…they were also too big for the cups! So, a new dessert was formed.

This is really simple if you already have the pastry cream ready. If not, you can make it, use actual ice cream, use chocolate frosting, make a chocolate mousse, make a panna cotta and scoop out balls, or figure out something else because that is a bunch of ideas right there. Haha.

After you figure out the filling, you need to make the chocolate cups. Simply take some chocolate candy melts (I used Ghiradelli ones to have a nice tasting chocolate) and melt them in your microwave, as per their directions. Then, take some silicone cupcake holders and pour the melted chocolate inside each, swirling around to cover all of the sides. Use a spoon or spatula to help spread enough on the sides to thicken them up. Allow to harden (the refrigerator is great for this). Then, pop them out when you are ready to use them.

Once you are ready to fill them and serve them, then you can make the hazelnuts. I made the hazelnuts ahead, and they work okay…but it is best to make them fresh if you want the dramatic look of the caramel coming off of them. If you wait, they soften and the caramel breaks off.

To make the candied hazelnuts…

Directions for Candied Hazelnuts

Adapted from Sprinklebakes

  • 1 dozen whole hazelnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Use skewers or toothpicks to pierce the hazelnuts. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven (or other heavy-bottomed pan), stir together the sugar and lemon juice. Turn the heat to medium and cook without stirring until the sugar melts around the outside of the pan. Then, stir it occasionally until the sugar turns a medium amber color. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.

Dip the hazelnuts in the caramel, then pull out slowly to allow a thread of caramel to drip out. Hold for 20-30 seconds then place on parchment to cool completely. Continue with all hazelnuts, then remove the toothpicks when ready.

Fun note about this? I also learned how to remove the shell from hazelnuts. I had never bought whole hazelnuts still in their shells before. Basically, I banged them with a rolling pin which shattered the shell. Sometimes it broke the nuts into small pieces, but if I was careful I could keep the nuts whole. Either way, make sure you have plenty of extras, both in case you make a mistake while dipping them in the caramel, or when breaking them open.

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