Whether French or Belgian it can mean something different. An accent on the e can make a difference too.
The invention is attributed to Mr Pralin or Praslin, in Paris in the 18th century. It didn’t contain chocolate! It is more like
something that can be found also in New Orleans: a cluster of almonds in caramelized sugar.
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Then comes the Praliné, basically that cluster is ground to a powder, then mixed with chocolate, cream, butter, then piped into a shell of chocolate to form a Belgian Praline, which in France is called Bonbon. The Truffle or truffe is usually made with a ganache (a mix of chocolate a cream), which then is dipped in chocolate. To add to the confusion, in Belgium, a bonbon is either a cookie or a candy, une chique, but not something with chocolate.
Of course in English, there is officially no accent, so Praliné is not a valid word, and ground nuts, or nut paste is often use. Also the word truffle is often used instead of praline… now Praliné is made of Pralin, a caramelized ground hazelnut. The Italian counterpart Gianduja is made of roasted hazelnut, but not necessarily caramelized so it is usually smoother. Using almonds, hazelnuts, cashew, pecans, walnuts or even pine nuts, roasted or not, caramelized or not, so many combination can be obtained. Personally I like to use raw nuts to do savory truffles, with spices, and a pinch of salt, and roasted for sweeter tastes.
There are many ways to ground nuts. Using a high-speed food processor mixer or blender can produce a very fine nut paste, and using the good old technique of the mortar and pestle, many different textures can be put together. Adding butter and chocolate (dark or white) can produce nice buttercreams, but sometimes I just like to add some cognac, or grappa, and a little bit of water for a vegan buttercream-like treat.
View my complete collection of Pralines and Truffles
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