Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pralus Creme de Noisette

Pralus Creme de NoisetteOne of the crazier purchases I made in San Francisco last month was this tube of Pralus Chocolatier Creme de Noisette. If you’re thinking that I’ve started reviewing beauty products, it’s okay, this is candy.

The only other tube candy I’ve reviewed before were some Wonka (Nestle) items that simply couldn’t be much more different. (And they probably don’t have a single ingredient in common.)

First, Pralus is known by experts as one of the best chocolate makers in the world, right up there with Amadei, Michel Cluizel, Domori and Guittard (see a rankings list here at SeventyPercent). The company is one of only three remaining French chocolate masters to make chocolate from bean to bar. Their line of single origin bars are highly prized (I’ve tried many of them, but for some reason I’ve never reviewed them) and their Patisseries in France are known for their wide variety of sweet delights including their Pralulines.

Pralus Creme de Noisette

The tube is quite heavy, clocking in at 8.8 ounces (250 grams). I spent a pretty penny on it, $14.99 at Bi-Rite Market. But I rationalized that it’s over a half a pound, which is a lot of confection for 15 bucks, especially for something imported from France.

The ingredients are dead simple: Grilled Hazelnuts and Almonds, Sugar, Chocolate and Vanilla. It’s basically a decadent Nutella. Now I must admit that I had a long affair with Nutella once. I was introduced to the stuff in Toronto in 1986 and though I had little money, I took home two jars (well, I started with three only two made it to the border). Whenever I was able to find it, I certainly bought it. I didn’t spread it on toast or use it in recipes, I simply ate it by the spoonful.

As years went by Nutella became more accessible in the big city (Los Angeles), but I found I didn’t like it as much. It seemed sweeter and greasier than I remembered. I’m told the stuff in Italy is actually better, but I kind of gave up on it and switched to straight gianduia by then. (The ingredients in Nutella sold in the USA go like this: sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, soy lecithin and vanillin.) I’ve actually seen commercials for Nutella on TV now, highlighting its nutritiousness but for something that’s mostly sugar and palm oil, I have trouble believing it’s anything other than nutty frosting.

I can say this, Pralus Creme de Noisette is nutty and it can be used as frosting but it’s oh so much better.

Pralus Creme de Noisette

The texture at room temperature is like brownie batter, in fact, it looks rather like brownie batter. It’s much darker out of the tube than in it. It smells like toasted hazelnuts, quite dark and caramelized. The flavor is immediately hazelnut as well, quite deep and slightly bitter. The cocoa notes are rich and on the smoky and coffee side. I’m not getting anything out of the almonds but that’s fine with me if they’re just filler.

The texture is also a little like a batter, it’s mostly smooth but every once in a while there’s a little sugar grain or nutty grain to it. Sometimes the sugar is quite a toasted flavor, like the whole thing was roasted together. It’s decadent and great for just squeezing onto a spoon or finger as a treat.

I also tried it a few other ways:

  • With Apples - eh, maybe it was because these weren’t good apples, but I found the tartness and watery crispness of the apples to be a distraction from the nuts and chocolate.
  • On Pretzels - this was fantastic. I had a bag of Newman’s Own Organic Spelt Pretzels. They’re crunchy and have a little dark tangy bite from the pretzel wash on them and of course the coarse salt made all the flavors and textures pop.
  • On Cookies - I had the triple ginger thins from Trader Joe’s. They’re quite buttery and crispy but also have a good toffee note to them in addition to the strong ginger. I made little sandwich cookies. The hazelnut flavor completely overpowered the ginger. 
  • I fully plan to repeat the last two (with some variations) until the tube is gone. So far it’s been lasting quite a long time. It’s easy to keep in my desk drawer as well and is rather easy to keep neat.

    My only other issue, besides price and availability, is spreadability. I can’t really blame the product but in the winter I have a bit of trouble squeezing it out of the tube. My house isn’t completely heated, so at anything below about 70F the tube becomes rather stiff and hard to squeeze the stuff out. (Something to keep in mind if you’re thinking of taking it camping - but the solution is just stick it under your arm for a while.)

    Related Candies

    1. Aldi Chocolate Swiss Assorted Chocolate Squares
    2. Storck Toffifay
    3. Short & Sweet: Hazelnut Bites
    4. Ice Cubes
    5. Caffarel Gianduias
    6. Lake Champlain Hazelnut Eggs
    7. Scharffen Berger Gianduja
    Name: Creme de Noisette (Hazelnut Cream)
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Pralus Chocolatier
    Place Purchased: Bi-Rite Market (San Francisco)
    Price: $14.99
    Size: 8.8 ounces
    Calories per ounce: unknown
    Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Pralus, France, All Natural

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:02 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

    Comments
    1. Chocolate in a tube…now that’s just wrong somehow.

      Comment by Pam Walter on 12/17/09 at 2:53 am #
    2. This would be way too dangerous for me.  I would just be squeezing this directly into my mouth.

      Comment by LL on 12/17/09 at 7:57 am #
    3. Synesthesia's avatar

      oh man, this sounds soooo yummy. it together with pretzels sounds like a killer combination

      it would be really funny to bring this into a bath and body store, pretend to pick it up off a shelf, and then proceed to open it up and squeeze some in your mouth (and make an unpleasant face for good effect).  i bet people’s reactions would be priceless!!!

      i actually sort of had something like this happen to me, but the situation was a little different.  do you remember when jessica simpson came out with a line of “edible” body products (lotion, powder, fragrances, ect.)  well, needless to say, i saw some in a store and decided i needed to eat it….big mistake!  definitely NOT candy!!!!  i dont know how they were allowed to call that stuff edible!

      Comment by Synesthesia on 12/17/09 at 9:40 am #
    4. Aaaahhhh….armpit candy!!!  Thanks for the giggle (Yeah, I know it is a good suggestion and you meant it in all seriousness, but I just can’t be that way!)...Beautiful photos!

      Comment by Michelle F on 12/20/09 at 7:52 am #
    5. Sigh.

      Crap.

      Hi, I’m Jess…and I’m from the East Coast.

      *everyone…Hiiiiii, Jess*

      So I don’t know what this Bi-Rite is. Is it like a CVS? Would my CVS have this amazing thing? I want one. Now. In my stocking. Because I’m so addicted to Nutella, but can’t carry it around in my purse, pocket, or shirt, and this just looks like utter perfection.

      Comment by Jess on 12/21/09 at 9:37 am #
    6. This isn’t candy at all, but have you tried hazelnut butter (like pb/almond butter, but made of hazelnuts?) I recently tried some (Kettle brand, it’s roasted & unsalted), and it’s amazing - equivalent to gianduja without the chocolate. I have dreams of melting it with chocolate (dark, milk, so versatile!), but thus far I’ve been content to eat it plain (off the spoon) or on fruit. It was $8 for an 11oz jar, I think.

      Comment by emi s. on 1/01/10 at 8:21 am #
    7. Where can this Hazelnut cream be purchased? I bought this divine stuff in a chocolate shop in DC, but cannot find an online source.

      Comment by Maria Brandriff on 6/13/11 at 5:02 pm #

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