Here’s a quick and easy way to prepare hazelnut praline paste. While this method isn’t traditional, it’s incredibly effective and it gives just as mouth-wateringly delicious results. You can use the praline paste to swirl into brownies, cheesecake or frosting – or just enjoy it with a spoon.
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Fair warning: once you try this hazelnut praline paste, you’ll want to put it onto and into everything. Swirl it into brownies or cheesecake bars, fold it into frosting for cupcakes or cakes… or, you know, just go at it with a spoon.
(It also makes a wonderful Nutella substitute if you mix it with a bit of Dutch processed cocoa powder. You’ve heard it here first.)
So, without further ado, let’s have a look at how you can make this wonderful combination of roasted hazelnuts and caramel yourself, in no time at all.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this wonderful praline paste – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
What is hazelnut praline paste made of?
Hazelnut praline paste is an originally French spread made from hazelnuts and caramel.
In my recipe, I use toasted and de-skinned hazelnuts, and a “wet caramel” where the sugar is cooked with a few tablespoons of water until caramelised to a deep amber colour. Once it reaches that colour, the caramel is poured onto a baking sheet lined with a piece of baking/greaseproof paper and left to cool down until hardened into a big caramel shard.
I usually toast the hazelnuts in a (dry) frying pan or skillet on the stove, over a medium-high heat, until their skins are loosened and they get deep brown spots. However, you could also toast them in the oven: just spread them out evenly on a baking sheet or tray and pop them into the oven pre-heated to 350ºF (180ºC) for about 10 minutes, giving them a stir halfway through to ensure even browning.
Disclaimer: this isn’t the “traditional” way of making praline paste
Traditionally, praline paste is made in one of two ways:
- The “more traditional” method: Start making a “wet” caramel, and then when bubbles start forming at the sides of the saucepan, add the raw hazelnuts – this will cause the sugar to crystallise. Cook this sugar-hazelnut mixture with constant stirring, so as to coat the hazelnuts in sugar. Continue cooking until the sugar melts and turns into a deep amber caramel. Then, pour the mixture onto a piece of baking/greaseproof paper or a silicone baking mat. Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces, which you then blend/process in a blender or food processor until you get a paste.
- The “less traditional” method: Toast the hazelnuts, remove the skins and spread them evenly in a single layer on a piece of baking/greaseproof paper or a silicone baking mat. Then, make the caramel and pour it over the toasted hazelnuts. Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces, which you then blend/process in a blender or food processor until you get a paste.
The method I’ve outlined below and in the recipe is a simplified version of method number 2 above, just without pouring the caramel over the hazelnuts. Instead, the two are kept separate until you put them into the food processor or blender.
I also use another “cheat”: if your praline is being stubborn and doesn’t want to make the transition from a powder to a paste – add a teaspoon or two of sunflower oil (or other neutral-tasting oil). This is enough to kick-start the transition to a paste and makes the whole process significantly quicker – but, importantly, you won’t be able to taste the oil in the final praline paste.
How to make hazelnut praline paste – the quick & easy way
And then – start blending.
The mixture will first form a powder, but it should eventually transform into a smooth and runny praline paste after 5-10 minutes of blending. You might need to use a spatula to scrape down the bowl of the food processor or blender from time to time.
If the mixture is proving particularly stubborn and doesn’t want to form a paste even after prolonged blending, add a teaspoon or two of sunflower (or other neutral-tasting) oil to speed up this process. You can also add a pinch of salt to make the flavours really pop.
The final hazelnut praline paste shouldn’t be too thick – instead, it should be pourable, smooth and glossy.
And that’s really all there is to it – seriously, how easy is that?!
Once you’ve made the praline paste, transfer it to an air-tight container, like a mason jar, and keep it in the fridge for up to 1 month.
The possibilities of using this hazelnut praline paste are pretty much endless. Here are a few ideas:
- Swirl it into brownies or cheesecake.
- Add it to whipped cream or plain vanilla buttercream – you can then use this frosting to top cakes or cupcakes. It’s especially wonderful in combination with chocolate cakes and chocolate cupcakes, for those amazing Nutella vibes.
- Add it to chocolate ganache, and use that as a filling for sandwich cookies or even stuffed cupcakes (for example, substituting the chocolate fudge sauce in these Triple Chocolate Cupcakes).
However you end up using it – enjoy.
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How to Make Hazelnut Praline Paste (Quick & Easy Recipe)
- 300 g (2 heaped cups) raw hazelnuts
- 225 g (1 ⅛ cups) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 2-3 tsp sunflower (or other neutral-tasting) oil, optional
- ¼-½ tsp salt
Toasting the hazelnuts:
- Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan or skillet on the stove over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes, until their skins start loosening and they get deep brown spots.
- Tip the toasted hazelnuts into a tea towel and use it to rub off their skins.
- Cool the hazelnuts completely and discard the loosened skins. Set aside until needed.
Making the caramel:
- Line a baking sheet or tray with a piece of baking/greaseproof paper.
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has melted and turns a deep amber colour.
- Pour the caramel onto the lined baking sheet/tray in an even, thin layer.
- Allow to cool and harden completely, then cut into smaller shards with a sharp knife.
Making the hazelnut praline paste:
- Start blending/processing the mixture. Initially, it will form a fine powder. After 5-10 minutes, it will start forming a paste. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor or blender as needed.Tip: If the mixture is proving particularly stubborn and doesn’t want to form a paste even after prolonged blending, add sunflower oil (1 teaspoon at a time, but no more than 3 teaspoons) to kick-start the transition to a paste.
- Blend/process the paste until smooth and pourable. Add the salt and blend/process until evenly distributed.
- Pour the finished hazelnut praline paste into an air-tight container, such as a mason jar, for storage.
- The hazelnut praline paste keeps well in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to about 1 month.