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To make the praline, spread out the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated hot oven for 5–10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, rub between the palms of your hands to remove the papery skins. Chop roughly.
Place the sugar in a small pan with 1 tablespoon cold water. Stir over a medium heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat. Boil until it turns a light brown, watching the pan constantly. Immediately tip in the hazelnuts, bring back to the boil and remove from the heat. Pour on to a lightly oiled baking sheet and leave to cool and harden. Break into pieces, and grind to a powder. Store until needed in an airtight container.
To make the charlotte, put the coffee and milk into a pan, and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain through muslin, return to the pan and reserve.
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Bring the coffee-flavoured milk to the boil and pour on to the egg yolks and sugar, whisking constantly. Return to the pan and stir over a low heat for about 5 minutes, without boiling, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Strain.
Stir the gelatine into the warm custard until thoroughly dissolved. Leave to cool. When almost set, whip the cream lightly and fold in with the praline.
Fill the mould with the praline cream; tapping it against the work surface to expel any air bubbles. Cover the top with the remaining biscuits and any trimmings and sprinkle with the rest of the Tia Maria. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 12 hours or overnight. Turn out before serving and peel off the clingfilm.
© 1990 Joyce Molyneux. All rights reserved.