How to cook Soviet praline with crushed hazelnuts at home

Vasilisa Malinka
The “Little Squirrel” is one of the sweet symbols of the Soviet Union. It’s filled with chocolate praline and crushed hazelnuts: so rich and indulgent. Let’s try to master how to make it.

The “Little Squirrel” (Belochka) has long been a part of the New Year’s candy sets traditionally given to kids in Russia on this holiday. Adults love it for the decadent taste. “The Little Squirrel” was even popular in the Kremlin, and was always served with tea at important receptions. 

Since the “Little Squirrel” first appeared on sale in the 1940s its wrapper has not seen significant changes. The legendary image of the squirrel has been slightly adjusted, the color palate and some details of the nuts were changed, but the font of the name and the composition remains unchanged: а squirrel in the middle holding a nut, and hazel branches along the wrapper’s edges.

Nowadays, you can find “Little Squirrel” with an original label design, both sold in boxes and by the kilo. But it’s actually not that difficult to make this legendary candy at home. With just a few ingredients the result will amaze you.

Ingredients:

  • 180g cream
  • 50g corn syrup or honey
  • 20g butter
  • 60g almond butter (or any nut butter of your choice)
  • 420g dark chocolate
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • Salt 
  • Dark chocolate for coating

Cooking:

1. Heat your oven to 140°C and roast the hazelnuts for 45 minutes. Cool them and smash into small pieces with a rolling pin.

2. Place 420g of chocolate in a heat proof bowl and put on a warm water bath until it melts completely. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl combine almond butter with butter and place on the same water bath. Stir until your butter melts and the mixture becomes homogeneous. Set aside.

4. In a small pot combine cream and corn syrup, and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and let the liquid cool a little bit. Add a part of it to your almond butter mixture, and stir until combined.

5. To your chocolate add the rest of the cream, and mix with a spatula.

6. Then add the almond butter mixture, and mix again until homogenous and glossy. Then add your hazelnuts.

7. Prepare a mold or a plate with a flat bottom by lining it with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Pour in your candy mixture and spread so it is flat. Cover the mixture surface with plastic wrap, and let it set in a cool place for at least a couple of hours.

8. Once your candy mixture has set, take it out of the mold and get rid of the plastic wrap.

9. With a hot dry knife carefully cut off the uneven edges and cut your block into small sized confections.

10. You will need about 300-400g of chocolate for coating. Temper it on a water bath and bring it to 31-32°C.

11. Start coating your candy one by one with the help of a fork, shaking and taping it against a bowl to get rid of the excess chocolate.

12. Place the coated candies on parchment paper and wait for it to set. Indulge! 

Read more: How to prepare Soviet candies with a peanut flavour

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