As Easter approaches, we dragged out one of our favorite Easter recipes from Linda Collister's Chocolate. Collister has written a series of small books on chocolate. Several of them published by Ryland Peters. We have spoken before of our devotion to books by Ryland Peters. They are small and beautiful books that make food look its most seductive.
Truly, however, it may just be time to grab up all of Collister's "chocolate" books and make one big book. Until then, here is a favorite treat from just plain, Chocolate.
6 very fresh eggs with pretty shells
5 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/3 cup whole unblanched almonds
1/3 cup whole skinned hazelnuts
1/2 cup sugar
Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, gently cut a small hole in the pointed end of each egg, then carefully snip away the shell with shearers to cut off the top, leaving a hole about 3/4 inch diameter. Empty out the eggs by shaking them over a bowl -- the contents can be saved for omelets or scrambled eggs. Wash out the empty shells thoroughly, then set them on apiece of wax paper in a baking dish and dry them in a preheated oven at 300 F for about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, to make the praline, put the nuts and sugar into a small, heavy saucepan and heat gently on top of the stove. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts, then watch carefully, stirring frequently, as it cooks and turns chestnut brown, ant the nuts start to pop. Take care with hot caramel, because splashes can burn.
Lift the saucepan off the heat, g quickly pour the mixture onto the oiled baking tray and, using a wooden spoon, spread it out evenly. Leave until completely cold and set, then coarsely break up the praline with a rolling pin or grind it in a food processor.
Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Put the cream into a heavy saucepan, heat until hot but not boiling, then pour it over the chocolate. Leave for 1 minute, then stir gently. Let cool for 5-10 minutes until thick, then stir in the praline. Stand the egg shells upright in an egg carton or rack and carefully spoon the chocolate mixture into the shells. Chill overnight until firm, then remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving.
First, we just love recipes that say "1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon" it is just so confusingly obtuse. Secondly, after one has procured lovely egg shells, spooning chocolate into them will not only make them a mess but well... let's just leave it at that. Grab a Ziplock bag, scrape the chocolate and praline mixture into it and clip off one corner and use that to add the chocolate. It may seem messy at first, but try spooning chocolate into eggs shells and you will see the wisdom.