When you think of gifts from the south, you think of King Cake, Cajun Spices, Hot Sauce, Beignets and Pralines. I usually go for savory items and I’m not a big dessert person, but I’ve become curious about the history and the how-to of famed New Orleans culinary curiosities. Pralines are surely one for the record book.
The story goes that there are two basic forms of Pralines. The French version which is a firm combination or almonds and caramelized sugar and American Pralines, a combination of sugar, pecans and milk or cream making a confection much like fudge.
It’s originally believed that Pralines are from France and named after Marshal du Plessis-Praslin (1598-1675). There are also Belgian versions of Pralines with a chocolate coating and a variety of fillings. It can cause the Praline definition to become quite confusing, but Pralines made their way to New Orleans.
It is legend that French settlers brought the recipe to Louisiana, where sugar cane and pecan trees are in great abundance. During the 19th Century New Orleans chefs substituted Pecans for Almonds, added cream to thicken the confection and thus Southern Pralines were born.
I have an old Candy Thermometer and recently I decided to embark on a Praline making adventure. This is a simple recipe that I changed to suit me. Enjoy!
2 Cups Toasted Pecans Chopped
1 ½ Cups White Sugar
¼ Cup Butter
1 ½ Cup Brown Sugar
½ Cup Evaporated Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Bring sugars and milk to a boil in a Dutch oven, stirring often. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, 11 minutes or until candy thermometer registers 228° (thread stage).
Stir in butter and pecans; cook, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer registers 236° (soft ball stage).
Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon 1 to 2 minutes or just until mixture begins to thicken. Quickly drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto buttered wax paper or parchment paper; let stand until firm.