Recipe: William Curley's hazelnut rochers

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As it’s National Chocolate Week this week, we thought it was only right that we asked one of the country’s top patissier chocolatiers for his favourite recipe.

Fife-born William Curley - the four-time winner of the Britain’s Best Chocolatier title - started his career with an apprenticeship at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel, and has since trained with some of the UK’s finest chefs to hone his confectionery craft.

Following his stint at The Savoy, where he became the youngest chef patissier in the iconic venue’s history, William launched his own business over 13 years ago and in that time has accumulated an impressive collection of awards.

A good afternoon tea really needs to have different combinations: choux, tarts, chocolate, something fruity. You must present a range of textures and flavour combinations, something sharp and something rich. But most of all, it’s got to look great.
— William Curley

This November, foodies in Aberdeen will have an opportunity to try his tempting creations when he hosts an afternoon tea at Signature at The Chester Hotel – Scotland’s fine dining festival.

“We’re very much looking forward to coming to Aberdeen and will certainly be presenting our jaffa cake tart – a signature for our brand which works incredibly well at afternoon tea parties,” William says.

“There’s no doubt that the popularity of afternoon tea is on the rise and that’s partly down to more awareness of cakes and patisserie through television shows. But it’s also down to a shift in our attitude to eating out.

“Afternoon tea in Britain is now experiencing that same cycle that restaurants have been through. People want to enjoy afternoon tea for celebrations with families and friends, but more and more it doesn’t have to be only for special occasions.”

To give you a taste of what’s to come at William’s afternoon tea at Signature on November 4, here’s his recipe for deliciously decadent hazelnut rochers.

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William Curely’s hazelnut rochers recipe

Ingredients:

For the praline ganache:

  • 160ml whipping cream

  • ½ vanilla pod split and scraped (optional)

  • 150g Gianduja chocolate, finely chopped

  • 80g dark (bittersweet) chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

  • 22g room temperature unsalted butter, cubed

To finish:

  • 500g tempered milk chocolate

  • 250g roasted nibbed almonds

  • 100g whole roasted hazelnuts

Method:

  1. Put the cream in a saucepan and scrape in the seeds from the split vanilla pod (bean). Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the infused cream into a clean saucepan, add the invert sugar and bring to the boil.

  2. Put the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Pour the boiled cream over the chocolate and mix until emulsified and a ganache consistency is formed.

  3. Add the softened butter and mix well until fully incorporated. Leave to set at room temperature for about 1 hour.

  4. Put the praline ganache in a piping bag fitted with a 12mm nozzle. Pipe small bulbs of the ganache onto a silicone-lined tray. Put a whole roasted hazelnut onto each bulb of ganache. Pipe a larger bulb of ganache on top of each hazelnut and leave to set in a cool, dry area.

  5. When set, roll each piped chocolate into a ball. Temper the milk chocolate and mix with roasted nibbed almonds. Coat each chocolate with the almond mixture.