Sorry to leave you in such suspense! Every time I went to post the second half of this post, my picture wouldn't upload, and really, what good is food porn without the pictures? But now, tada! The other half of my Father's Day package, long since consumed by now.
These are a variant on the petit fours I made earlier. I had lots of caramel and almond praline in the refrigerator, and I wanted to dip something in chocolate because I wanted to be sure the cake would stay fresh (but really, who needs an excuse to dip things in chocolate?) Dad loves almond, as a general rule - he eats them by the handful plain - so these are Almond Praline Petit Fours, dipped in chocolate.
In my opinion, the best part of this recipe was the cake. Subtly sweet and very almondy, I could have eaten it alone. Plying it with caramel and praline seemed almost like a waste, until you tasted the final product. The praline turned out to be essential, giving the overall texture a surprising crunch after biting through the stiff chocolate and soft cake. I snuck a few to keep for myself ;)
Almond Praline Petit Fours (makes ~20)
* 1 recipe Almond Sponge Cake (recipe below)
* 1 recipe caramel (recipe below)
* 1 c almond praline
* 12 oz dark chocolate, melted
* 12 oz white chocolate, melted
Almond Sponge Cake (adapted from Our Patisserie)
* 1/4 c milk
* 2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
* 1/2 c sifted cake flour
* 1/4 c sifted almond flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 3/4 c sugar
* 3 large eggs
* 3 large egg yolks
* 1 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 400F. Line bottom of jelly-roll pan with parchment so that the paper overhangs the pan at 2 opposite ends. Make cuts in corners so parchment lies flat.
Heat milk with butter in small saucepan until butter melts. Reduce heat to low, and keep hot, but do not simmer. Sift flours with baking powder twice. Return to sifter and set aside.
In large heatproof bowl, combine sugar, whole eggs, egg yolks and extract. Place the bowl in a pan of simmering water and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute until eggs are warm. Remove from heat, and beat at high speed until mixture has cooled, tripled in volume, and has the consistency of thick whipped cream.
Sift one-third of flour mixture over batter, and fold in gently by hand, using the largest spatula you have. Fold in half of remaining flour; then fold in the remainder. Pour the hot milk and butter into batter and fold well, scraping the bottom each time and bringing the batter up the sides of the bowl until you can no longer see traces of liquid.
Turn batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes. The cake will have browned on top, and started to shrink from the sides of the pan. Cool cake in its pan.
Caramel (adapted from David Lebovitz)
* 1 can sweetened condensed milk
* pinch of salt
* 1 1/2 c heavy cream
Preheat oven to 425. Empty condensed milk into a glass pie pan and sprinkle salt over top (I like to use 1 tsp +, as I'm a fan of salted caramel). Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with boiling water to halfway up pie pan.
Place roasting pan in oven and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours, until deeply golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool.
Beat heavy cream until medium peaks form (tips droop when lifted). Gently fold whipped cream into cooled dulce de leche and mix until smooth.
These look awesome, especially considering how easy they are. Line a pan with parchment or wax paper. Place 1 oz melted chocolate in a ziploc bag and snip off the very tip (you want a tiny hole or the designs won't look as intricate). Pipe designs onto prepared pan, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Place cooled cake in freezer and let sit 1/2 hour or until solid. Remove and cut in half; return to freezer until fully chilled.
Spread cooled caramel over one half of cake and sprinkle praline over caramel until thickly covered (reserve some praline for topping). Place other half of cake over caramel, sandwich style, and return to freezer again.
Once cake has been frozen, remove, and with a sharp knife cut into pieces. You may need to use the dip-and-wipe process (dip knife in hot water, wipe clean, cut, repeat). Return pieces to freezer while preparing chocolate.
Melt your chocolate (one at a time) and dip frozen cake squares. Scrape off excess chocolate from the bottom and place on a silicone mat or parchment paper. Before chocolate cools, sprinkle with remaining almond praline and top with a chocolate design.
If you want, you can temper your chocolate for a nicer snap. Tempering chocolate scares me, and while I will attempt it at some point, this was not the project to do so. For me, melted chocolate was fine.