Makes about 3 dozen pralines
Although the idea of mixing nuts (traditionally almonds) with caramelized sugar is French in origin, these pralines are Louisiana ingenuity pure and simple. The earliest recipes called for locally grown pecans and raw sugar brought into the port of New Orleans from Cuban cane fields. Avoid making pralines on a humid day. They will not set up properly.
3 cups (1-1/2 lb/750 g) sugar
3-1/2 cups (14 oz/440 g) pecan halves
1-1/3 cups (11 fl oz/345 ml) buttermilk
6 tablespoons (3 oz/90 g) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (essence)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1. Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper.
2. In a large, heavy saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, pecan halves, buttermilk, butter, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves completely about 10 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil before the sugar dissolves or it may crystallize and become grainy. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally but being careful not to scrape any hardened candy mixture from the sides of the saucepan. Cook to the soft-ball stage, 236 degrees-239 degrees F (113 degrees-115 degrees C) on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and the baking soda. As soon as you add the baking soda, the mixture will become lighter in color and foamy in texture. Beat rapidly with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to cool, thicken, and lose some of its shine, 5-7 minutes.
4. Working quickly, drop the candy by heaping tablespoonfuls, using one spoon to scoop and another to push the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets. Let stand at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour. Eat immediately or store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
Nutritional analysis per praline:
Calories 160 (Kilojoules 706); Protein 1 g; Carbohydrates 21 g; Total Fat 9 g; Saturated Fat 2 g; Cholesterol 6 mg; Sodium 78 mg; Dietary Fiber 1 g.
New American Cooking Series
Time Life Books, 2000
Color photographs throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created July 2000
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