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I attempted this recipe:

70 g hazelnuts
100 sugar
1 pinch salt

Toast nuts at 400 F for 10 mins.; let cool.
Put sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and render into caramel over medium-low heat.
Combine ingredients in a food processor and process 3-5 mins., scraping down the bowl as necessary, until it all becomes a smooth, even paste.

Yield: 1 C.

All seemed well until I got to the food processor, at which point the following happened:

  • Some of the caramel turned to obsidian on the bottom of the food processor bowl.
  • The paste never became "smooth and even," but remained gritty and unappealing.
  • The yield was maybe 1/2 C.

What should I do differently next time? I thought maybe I should have let the caramel cool a bit, but the recipe said it should still be hot. Otherwise, I don't know what there is to change; it's about as simple as recipes get.

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    Your yield from 170 g of ingredients will always be 170 g minus whatever got smeared on the utensils. I would be surprised if you can make a paste (not a whipped mousse) from 170 g of ingredients that gave one full cup of volume. – rumtscho Dec 18 '16 at 13:37
  • True. Any ideas about the texture & the vitrification? – crmdgn Dec 18 '16 at 20:49
  • I expect the volumetric yield was based on whipping in a bunch of air. Perhaps nuts first, fire up the blades, pour the caramel down the feed tube with the blades running? I wonder if inverting the order might work better - grind them together first and then caramelize - or would that be too hot for too long for the nuts? – Ecnerwal Dec 18 '16 at 22:31
  • Yeah, the nuts toast pretty quickly. I'd worry about them burning that way. – crmdgn Dec 19 '16 at 1:07
  • Maybe choose a different temperature for treating the sugar, using commonly documented "candy making stages"? – rackandboneman Dec 19 '16 at 9:01
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Upon reading those instructions, I can picture vividly the scenario you describe. It seems like the caramelized sugar would of course solidify and cleave to the bottom of the (relatively cold) food processor as you pour it in. Or is the friction of the food processor supposed to keep the caramel melted at its original temperature as it whirls around while the nuts pulverize? That even sounds kind of unsafe somehow.

Curious, I looked up other recipes for praline paste on the internet - and there are lots. These are the first 4 I came across:

http://joepastry.com/2011/making-praline-paste/

http://www.thedomesticfront.com/pralinepaste/

https://beammeupbiscotti.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/useful-tips-how-to-make-praline-paste/

http://www.chefrachida.com/homemade-hazelnut-praline-paste/

All of these specify letting the caramel and nut mixture harden and cool on a non-stick surface first, and then you break it up into pieces and put into the food processor. The first reference shows pictures of the progression of the product from chunks to powder to paste as the food processor works.

Even though it is contrary to the recipe, perhaps it would work better if you cooled the mixture before processing. I wonder if some sentence or phrase about the pre-processor cooling step got accidentally left out of your recipe.

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