A heavenly hazelnut praline ganache is piped into teardrop shapes, with round
milk chocolate bases. Coated in a thin sheath of tempered milk chocolate, the
candy centers are transformed into whimsical creatures with sliced almonds for
ears and piped dark chocolate forming the eyes, noses, and coiled tails.
Preparation: 4 hours, plus infusing, freezing, chilling, and setting times
Special Equipment: Flat metal cake
spatula, closed star decorating tip (such as Ateco
#2), 5/8-inch plain
decorating tip (such as Ateco #8), disposable pastry
bags, digital thermometer,
2 silicone baking mats, 3-pronged chocolate dipping fork, heating pad with
temperature control dial (such as the type used for backaches); cotton gloves.
Hazelnut Praline Mousse Ganache
Vegetable oil, for oiling baking sheet
1/2 cup sifted granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
12 ounces Swiss dark
chocolate, such as Lindt*
2 teaspoons invert sugar, such as Nulomoline**
2 tablespoons cognac
1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia***
Round Chocolate Bases
6 ounces milk chocolate
couverture, such as Valrhona Lactee
Sliced almonds, for mouse ears
4 ounces dark chocolate
couverture, such as Valrhona Caraque
* Note: Use 3-ounce Lindt Swiss dark chocolate bars for preparing the
ganache. This particular chocolate contains just the right proportion of cocoa
solids and cocoa butter to enable the whipped hazelnut praline ganache to set up
properly. The piped center will be just firm enough to be coated in a thin,
crisp shell of tempered milk chocolate. Yet when the chocolate-coated mouse is
bitten into, it will yield a soft and creamy filling.
** Note: Invert sugar acts as a softener and helps to prolong the freshness of
the ganache filling.
*** Note: Fiori di Sicilia is an oil-based flavoring that exudes the
aromas of vanilla, fresh citrus, and flowers. A tinny bit of this flavoring adds
a lovely nuance to the hazelnut praline ganache.
Make the hazelnut praline ganache
Lightly oil a heavy baking sheet and a flat metal cake spatula.
In a small, nonstick saucepan or skillet, combine the sugar and lemon juice.
Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is evenly moistened. Cook over medium
heat, swirling the pan frequently, until the mixture liquefies and turns to an
amber-colored caramel. Gently stir in the hazelnuts. Continue to cook until the
mixture is fluid again and the hazelnuts are evenly coated with the caramel
Pour the hot hazelnut praline onto the prepared baking sheet. Set the baking
sheet on a cooling rack and allow the praline to cool for 3 minutes.
Using the oiled cake spatula, carefully loosen the undersides of the caramel
to prevent it form sticking to the baking sheet. Let the caramel cool until it hardens
Coarsely chop the praline and put it into a food processor fitted with the
metal chopping blade. Process for 15 to 20 seconds, until it is finely ground.
Continue to process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture forms a crumbly paste.
Scrape the praline paste into a small, heavy saucepan. (Do not clean the work
bowl or metal blade, as you will be using it again to chop the chocolate.)
Using the tip of a small knife, remove the paste of tiny black seeds from the
inside the split vanilla bean. Add the scraped vanilla pod and seeds to the
saucepan. Add the heavy cream and stir with a wooden spoon until blended. Cook over
medium heat, stirring constantly until the praline paste is completely dissolved
and the mixture is scalding hot. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the
mixture to infuse for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop the dark chocolate. Put the chocolate in the food processor
with the metal chopping blade. Process for 15 to 20 seconds, until finely
chopped. Remove the lid of the food processor and leave the chocolate in the
Add the invert sugar to the praline-cream mixture and reheat, stirring
frequently until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Using tongs, remove the
vanilla bean pod and discard. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate in
the food processor work bowl. With a rubber spatula, press down on the chocolate
so that is is almost completely submerged in the hot cream. Let the mixture
stand for 1 minute. Replace the lid of the food processor and pulse 6 to 8
times, until the mixture is creamy. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl, and
add the cognac and Fiori di Sicilia. Pulse 4 to 6 more times, until smooth.
Scrape the ganache onto a baking sheet, letting it spread into a thin layer.
Cover the surface with plastic wrap and freeze for at least one hour, until