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Hello! I am searching for the best method of achieving pronounced hazelnut flavor in dark chocolate ganache. I have roasted them whole, roasted them crushed, varied the amounts, supplemented with Frangelico, but it's just not coming through strong enough. What's the secret? A paste? Thanks in advance!

Kate

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How you roast can significantly impact flavor of the nuts.  My guess is that since hazelnuts are a more delicate flavor, the fact that you're putting them in a HIGHLY flavorful base (dark chocolate) they're just getting overpowered.  Hard to say for certain w/o details.

Hi Sebastian! Good point. I planned to try with milk chocolate to see if that helped. I was also interested in hearing what other people do -- how they roast the nuts, whether they include them whole or minced, if they use any added flavorings, etc.

Try adding a little salt, salt makes nuts taste nuttier. You don't need much but the change is remarkable.

Excellent tip, Tom! Thank you.

thank you for the salt tip tom. Never thought salt would make such impact nuts. I'll try it out for sure

The secret to getting pronounced hazelnut flavor and aroma is to start with the best hazelnuts (especially cv. Tonda Gentile delle Langhe, though Tonda di Giffoni and Tonda Gentile Romana are also very good).  Nothing you can do to kernels from a lesser cultivar (e.g., Barcelona from Oregon or Tombul from Turkey) will close that gap in quality and intensity.

aha! That might be the ticket. I have noticed the nuts themselves really don't seem that"nutty" by themselves. Thanks again.

Exactly. Unfortunately, it's tough to get the best hazelnut cultivars outside of Europe.  Even when you can get them, they're more expensive to begin with, and with higher transportation costs to get them to the US, they can be cost prohibitive.  

You might want to try making a basic praline.  Take 50:50 sugar and hazelnuts, you can caramelize the sugar with them, like a croquant, or partially, or just a blend depending on your target flavor profile.  Grind them to a nut butter and refine.  You can then add cocoa butter or some dark chocolate to make a finished praline or gianduja.  As mentioned above the quality of the nuts and the roast technique are the most significant factor.

Thanks Mark! I will definitely try that.

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