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He may not have a sweet tooth, but Adam Chandler has a passion for chemistry that makes him a master of tricky confections—baking is, after all, a science. Chandler, formerly a pastry sous-chef with the Loden Hotel and the Fairmont Pacific Rim, creates innovative (and award-winning) truffles in unusual flavours—like tobacco and imperial stout—for his confectionery company Beta5. A lover of local, seasonal ingredients, he uses Agassiz hazelnuts to create a perfect holiday-season hostess gift.
How to buy
More than 330,000 kilograms of hazelnuts are produced in B.C. annually, so look no further than your local farmers market. The best way to guarantee freshness, says Chandler, is to buy from local producers like Poplar Grove Arbour. Nuts should be stored in a cool, dark place (like the fridge) to prevent oils from turning rancid. Chandler suggests cracking one open before purchasing to make sure it doesn’t taste bitter. “Plus,” he adds, “there’s something therapeutic about cracking nuts.” Chocolate tip: cacao beans, like wine, have a flavour specific to the plantation and region where they’re grown. Chandler’s current favourite is a herbacious Dominican Republic chocolate from France’s Michel Cluizel.
How to cook
Crack and blanche the hazelnuts, then dry in the oven for 20 minutes at 300º F. Cook down a simple syrup until it becomes thread-like, and stir in hazelnuts over medium heat until a crystallized sugar coat forms around the nuts. Pour nuts into a clean pot and continue to stir over heat until the sugar turns into a dark caramel. Scatter onto a tray, separate each piece, and allow to cool. Melt 400 grams of chocolate for every 200 grams of nuts, and mix in a bowl until chocolate solidifies. Finish with a dusting of cocoa powder.