Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
(177 degrees C). Bake the hazelnuts for 10 - 15 minutes or until the skins start
to blister and the nuts are fragrant. Remove from oven and wrap the nuts
in a clean towel and steam for 5 minutes. Rub the towel briskly to remove
the skins. Let cool. Remove 60 hazelnuts to be used as garnish and
then place the remaining cooled hazelnuts in
a food processor and process until finely ground. Set aside.
Coarsely chopped the chocolate
and place in a heatproof bowl.
In a small saucepan bring the
cream to a boil. Immediately, remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate.
Gently stir the mixture until smooth and then add the alcohol or vanilla extract
and finely ground
hazelnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the mixture until
thick but not solid (about 30 minutes).
Transfer the mixture to a
pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe the ganache into small candy cups until
they are 3/4 full. Place a toasted hazelnut, pointed end up, on top of
each cup. Chill the ganache cups until they are firm (about 1 hour).
Store in an
airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks or they can be frozen
for a few months. Best served at room
Makes about 60
1 inch (2.5 cm) ganache