Don't these just say Christmas party all over them!? The golden glow of the candy, the silvery sparkle of the foil--one gets one's light where one can this time of year--the dark, velvety ganache studded with bits of hazelnut all contained in a dark chocolate cup: divine.
adapted from Farmhouse Cookery, makes 2 dozen
- For the cups:
- 3 oz. dark chocolate
- 24 1-inch candy cups
- For the ganache:
- 8 oz. dark chocolate
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbs. butter, at room temp.
- 2 Tbs. brandy
- 2 oz. ground hazelnuts
- To decorate:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/8 cup water
- 30 (just in case) hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
- For the cups: Arrange the candy cups (sweet cases according to the Farmhouse) on a baking sheet. Chop up the chocolate and place 2/3 of it in a double boiler. Melt over simmering water. Just before it is smooth take the chocolate off the heat and add the remaining chopped up chocolate. Stir, off the heat, until smooth. Line the cups with the chocolate by filling the cup up halfway with chocolate and then either swizzling the chocolate around until the entire cup is coated or using a teaspoon to spread the chocolate around and up the sides. Make sure the sides are thick enough or your cup will fall apart when it is unwrapped. Place in the refrigerator until fully hardened.
- For the ganache: Chop up the chocolate, then place in a food processor and whiz into very small bits. Heat the cream until bubbles form around the edges. Add to chocolate and process until mostly smooth. Transfer chocolate mixture back to the pan and add butter. Stir until smooth. Add the brandy and hazelnuts and mix until combined. Allow ganache to cool until pipable.
- For the decoration: Stick each hazelnut on a skewer with the top of the hazelnut pointing down when the skewer is held parallel to the floor. Prepare an ice bath that can accommodate your pan. Combine sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, stirring until sugar is COMPLETELY dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil and heat to just below hard crack, about 300°F, wiping the sides of the pot down with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming and ruining your syrup. When the desired temperature is reached, plunge pot in ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove and let cool until a skewer dipped into and then pulled out of the sugar leaves a thread trailing behind it. One by one, dip the hazelnuts in the syrup and pull them out. Let any excess sugar drip back into the pan. Cut the thread with scissors when it has stopped dripping and secure the skewer with the tip of the hazelnut pointing down between the counter and a breadboard. Allow to cool and harden completely. If the candy in the pot becomes too hard to work with, put it over low heat until it liquifies enough for dipping.
- To assemble: Take chocolate cups from fridge. Transfer ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized star tip. Pipe ganache into cups and top with hazelnut drops.
Taste one to confirm they're divine and give the rest away as soon as possible.
You might be tempted to make these larger, but in this case more of a good thing would just be too much. Like this they're a single mouthful of heart melting decadence without the sinful edge.