by Alice Medrich
"Pralen" is the French word describing the famous European chocolate delicacy. It consists of wondrous confectionery recipes as fillings in the center of a stunning array of outer shells of dark, milk, and "white" chocolate.
Pralines were first prepared in the 17th century France by the chef of Count Plessis-Praslin.
For generations, Belgian chocolate masters have created some of the world's finest chocolate recipes of sumptuous centers, and beautiful molds, such as butterflies, pears, pianos, hearts, chestnuts, and clovers. In the tradition of hand-made chocolates, the chocolatier dips a cold tray of the hollow molds into tempered vats containing their own unique blends of dark, milk, and "white" chocolate, filling the molds. The temperature variance causes the chocolate to adhere to the molded shapes; and the excess is shaken off, leaving open shells. The molds are then quickly chilled, which hardens the molded chocolate.
Next, using a pastry cone, the molds are filled with the sumptuous recipes, such as sugar cream, hazelnut paste, marzipan, berries, and liquors, or perhaps gianduja. The trays are then covered with the tempered chocolate again (creating the base of the praline), and chilled to harden. Then each piece is carefully removed from the mold, and prepared for packaging.
Dark, milk, and "white" chocolate each brings its unique pleasures. Dark chocolates is created from the natural parts of the cocoa fruit, the cocoa mass and cocoa butter (natural, unsaturated fat). Milk chocolate is created with the addition of milk powder to the cocoa mass and cocoa butter. "White" chocolate is quite different, and has been the subject of considerable debate as to whether it is truly chocolate, because it contains no cocoa mass (liquor). It is created only from the cocoa butter (leaving out the cocoa mass). There are hundreds of delicious recipes for each, with the richest, dark chocolate products containing as much as 47% cocoa mass and 53% cocoa butter.
Today, this hand-made tradition, using only fresh, natural ingredients, continues with but a few Belgium masters. We know you will enjoy them. You can taste the all-natural freshness. Bon Appetit!
Dark Chocolates: 51.8% cocoa mass, 41.3 sugar, 6.6 percent cocoa butter, fillings: syrup, hazelnuts, almonds, fresh butter, fresh cream, palm butter, natural flavoring of vanilla, mint, coffee, natural fruit pastes of pineapple, raspberry, soy lecithin, Pear Williams, Whiskey, Pineau des Charentes liqueurs.
Milk Chocolates: 42% sugar, 23.6% cocoa butter, 22.4% full cream milk powder, 11.7% cocoa mass, fillings: syrup, hazelnuts, almonds, fresh butter, fresh cream, palm butter; natural flavoring of vanilla, coffee, tea, natural fruit pastes of strawberry, raspberry, soy lecithin, Grand Marnier and Raspberry liqueurs.
White Pralines: 29% cocoa butter, 46.6% sugar, and 23.5% full cream milk powder; fillings: syrup, hazelnuts, almonds, fresh butter, fresh cream, palm butter; natural flavoring of vanilla and coffee, natural fruit pastes of strawberry, raspberry, soy lecithin, Grand Marnier and Raspberry liqueurs.
Chocolates (September 1998)
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