Monday, August 10, 2015

Call It Nougatine, Praline Or Chikki

To us Indians, nuts coated in sticky jaggery is Chikki, to the French it is Nougatine or Praline Yeah but if its French suddenly everything becomes a little superior eh?

Traditionally if you go by Larousse Gastronomique both Nougatine and Praline are made the same way. That is caramelizing sugar and then adding nuts to it and then rolling out sheets while hot. Yet there is a slight difference. Nougatine uses ground almonds and the sugar to almonds ratio is 2:1 whereas In Praline blanched and then toasted whole almonds are used and the sugar to almonds ratio is 1:1. Cakes made with Nougatine or Praline are known by these names where traditionally buttercream is flavored with it and then used for filling and frosting the cake. You saw my version of Nougatine and Custard Filled Cake in the last post on this blog.

I told you that you will be surprised at the Indian connection. So here we are making Indian Chikki or Nougatine or Praline. Yes both these French versions have gone beyond the almonds and are made with other nuts of choice and the Indian chikki has expanded its variety by using sugar.

The process is simple but handling caramel is tricky. Be warned that this recipe requires complete focus do not multitask when working on it. This warning is especially for women as we are big time multi-taskers.

200 gms sugar
200 gms coarsely chopped mixed nuts (I used cashew, almonds and pistachio)
1 teaspoon salted butter

In a wide pan measure out the sugar. Put it on medium heat and let the sugar start melting.

Meanwhile prepare the surface of the counter by lightly spreading butter on it.

Add the rest of the butter to the sugar to give it a hint of salt and smoothness. As the sugar melts completely keep stirring as it will foam up evenly. Let the sugar get a nice golden hue while you are stirring.

At this point add the coarsely chopped almonds, cashews and pistachios. Switch off the heat. Mix to evenly coat the nuts with the hot caramel. While this mix is still hot remove from heat and pour on the counter. Press down the mass. Oil a rolling pin and use it to thin out the Nougatine into a sheet.

Let it cool for a few minutes. Then cut up the sheet into pieces, cool completely.

The cut up pieces can be served as Chikki /candy. It is a fantastic energy booster post workout or when traveling to carry along in your handbag.

If you are planning to use it to flavor a Nougatine or Praline cake like I did here then you need to crush the pieces. These crushed pieces can be used as sprinkles on icecreams and other desserts.

Have fun making this candy treat and spread some sweetness around you by distributing some to friends.

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