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Author Notes: Bajadera (Bah-ya-deh-ra) is a famous chocolate praline created by the Kraš confectionery company in ex-Yugoslavia, now Croatia. Yugoslavia did not survive as a country, but a recipe for home-made Bajadera is still widely popular across the ex-Yugoslavian territories – Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia. Making Bajadera at home is a lot of fun, it is a relatively simple no-bake desert, based on a nougat paste from ground nuts, chocolate, cookies, sugar syrup and butter. Needles to say, there are as many Bajadera recipes as there are cooks in the Balkans. Below is a version that my family used for years. And in case you are wondering, the real thing can nowadays be purchased on Amazon, see http://www.amazon.com/Kras-Bajadera-Nougat-Dessert-500g/dp/B000LQNB72. —QueenSashy
Makes 64 cubes
- 500g granulated sugar
- 12 tablespoons water
- 200g hazelnuts
- 200g Petit Beurre biscuits (I used Leibnitz and LU)
- 250g butter
- 100g dark chocolate
- 100g dark chocolate
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon butter
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Pour the hazelnuts on the baking sheet in one layer. Roast the hazelnuts for about 20 minutes. Toss occasionally to make sure they roast evenly. When the hazelnut skins begin to crack and the nuts turn golden brown, remove them from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Once the hazelnuts have cooled completely, rub them with your hands, or between two kitchen towels, to remove the skins.
- Bring the sugar and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to boil to make syrup. (Occasionally remove the sugar from the edges of the pan with spatula so that crystals do not form.) Once the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage (about 238F) remove from the heat. Place the bottom of the saucepan in the cold water to prevent the syrup from overcooking. Let the syrup cool.
- In a food processor grind the hazelnuts and biscuits as finely as possible (the closer to powder the better). Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the syrup and butter. Coat your hands in powdered sugar and begin to knead until it forms smooth paste.
- Split the hazelnut paste into two equal parts, and then take 50g of paste from the first batch and add it to the second. (We will be adding chocolate into the first batch and this will ensure that at the end we have the equal amounts of the dark chocolate paste and the light hazelnut paste.)
- Melt the chocolate and add it to the first (smaller) batch. Mix well until the paste is smooth.
- Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Turn the chocolate mixture into the pan, spread and then press with a flat spatula or your fingers to form a dense, even layer. Place the pan into the fridge for about 30min to an hour, until the chocolate layer becomes very firm.
- Pour the light paste on top of the chocolate layer, spread and press into a dense, even layer. Place the pan again into the fridge and refrigerate until the second layer becomes very firm.
- Remove the nougat from the pan, and place on a cardboard square, or cutting board (I do not own a glazing rack). Prepare the chocolate glaze. Combine the dark chocolate and water, and melt in a double boiler. After the chocolate has melted add the butter. Continue to cook until the butter is fully melted and the glaze is uniform. Remove the glaze from the heat, let it cool for about a minute and then pour it over the center of the nougat. Use an icing spatula to coax it over. (Do not glaze the sides.) Allow the glaze to set, and then transfer the nougat to the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- Thirty minutes before serving, remove the nougat from the refrigerator, and while still cold cut into small squares or rectangles. The nougats are extremely rich, and small bites will do nicely.