Make restaurant-quality desserts at home with Indulge by Claire Clark, including recipes for Almond Roches, Hibiscus Jellies with Red Berries, and Black Forest Trifle; plus tips and techniques like Tempering Chocolate.
Makes About 40
If your friends like almonds, these are the perfect solution to gifts or after-dinner petits fours. The important thing to remember is that although they look simple, simplicity is not always easy to achieve. There is a definite technique to making the roches look stunning. Follow the instructions below and I promise you your clusters will have the edge; you will be the envy of every roche maker. The secret is the ratio of cocoa butter to chocolate and a cool working environment—avoid draughts and hot kitchens.
Valrhona produces a great milk chocolate, with 40 per cent cocoa solids, and the Swiss make some of the best milk chocolate in the world, so you could try Lindt.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas Mark 4.
Place the almonds in a bowl and toss them in the Cointreau until they are all coated. Add the icing sugar and mix well, making sure the nuts are well coated in the sugar too. Transfer the nuts to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown, turning them frequently with a spatula so they cook as evenly as possible. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
For the next stage, you will need 3 small metal bowls, about 15-20cm/ 6-8 inches in diameter and not too deep. Melt the cocoa butter in a small pan, then transfer it to one of the bowls and keep warm (you may need to reheat it gently if it cools down too much, to prevent it solidifying). Place the cooled nuts in another of the bowls. Have the tempered chocolate to hand.
Using the remaining empty bowl, take a small handful of the toasted almonds, add a teaspoon of cocoa butter (or hazelnut oil) and mix well. Add enough milk chocolate to hold the nuts together. The purpose of the cocoa butter is to thin the chocolate so you can see the shape of the nuts through it. Too much chocolate will result in a pool of excess chocolate—or 'feet', as we call it—around the base of the roche once it has been spooned on to the tray; too much cocoa butter will make the chocolate too thin, so it won't adhere to the nuts. Play around with the quantities until you achieve perfect results.
Immediately spoon the nuts in small clumps on to trays lined with baking parchment or nonstick baking mats. Do this as quickly as you can, before the chocolate starts to set and the clusters lose the smoothness and shine that make them so attractive. Work with small handfuls of nuts at a time and keep repeating the process for perfect results. Store in a sealed container in the fridge to stop the chocolate sweating.
This page created April 2008
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