Plum and hazelnut praline crumble
Summer is slowly slipping through my grasp. The leaves are starting to turn golden on the trees across the road and the nights are suddenly creeping in. As I came out of the tube at 8pm the other evening, I was surprised to find that it was already dark. It was a particularly cool evening, beset with thick drizzle and my flip flops suddenly felt rather foolish. So I trudged home with cold, damp toes and did the only sensible thing – made a crumble to cheer myself up.
I had a lovely, large punnet of English Victoria plums in the fridge and a packet of hazelnuts in the cupboard, perfect for an impromptu warm pudding. As I set about crushing the hazelnuts for the topping, I had the sudden inspiration that I could caramelise them first, thinking that a handful of hazelnut praline would add some extra crunch and a richer flavour to the finished dish.
Making a basic caramel for this isn’t at all complicated, but you do need to keep an eye on it to ensure you catch it at the point where it has a good caramel flavour, but before it burns.
Start by lining a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment, ready for you to tip the cooked caramel onto. Put around half a cup of caster sugar into a heavy based saucepan, add a splash of water and cook over a medium heat, swirling the pan every now and again so the sugar melts evenly. Once the sugar has melted, turn up the heat a little and the sugar will start to colour. When a you have achieved a good caramel colour, tip in around 50g slightly crushed hazelnuts, swirl to coat, then tip out onto your tray to cool. The caramel will colour quickly once it starts, so take care not to let it burn. My general rule of thumb is that when I think I will just give it ten more seconds, that is the point I need to stop!
While the praline cools, make the rest of your crumble topping. Rub 100g cubed cold butter into 150g flour until you have chunky crumbs. Add a good pinch of salt and a generous tablespoon of light brown sugar. Most of the sweetness will come from the praline though.
Once the caramel has set and cooled, break it into chunks and then bash it into fine crumbs, in a pestle and mortar or using a rolling pin or even the base of a heavy saucepan. Stir the praline into the crumble.
Cut 750g plums into large chunks, sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar and maybe a slosh of amaretto. Pile on the crumble and bake at 165C for 35-45mins until the fruit is bubbling and the crumble is golden.
A good dollop of vanilla ice cream wouldn’t go amiss.
1/2 cup caster sugar
4tbsp light brown sugar
150g plain flour