Southern Kitchen – Pralines vs Pralines

pralines

One of the easiest ways to travel (through space and/or time) is through food.  The tie between memory and taste is one of the most wonderful things about eating.  Because we reminisce about our grandmother’s cooking or we miss certain dishes associated with our travels, we try to re-live those experiences in our kitchen. This was likely the reason that the French colonials living in New Orleans created the pecan praline.  Longing for the almond and sugar treat known as a prasline back in their homeland, yet lacking the skills or ingredients to truly produce it, they ended up creating a distinctly American treat (less healthy, bigger portion, diabetes inducing…..) now associated with the city of New Orleans.

pecans

My family’s first taste of pecan pralines came when my grandparents honeymooned in New Orleans.  They loved them so much that my grandmother sought out a recipe so she could conjure up some memories any time she wanted to.  Thus my mother grew up eating and making them, and so did I.  Little did we know that I’d end up marrying a Louisiana girl and giving out homemade pralines as wedding favors.  This little candy just continues to weave itself into my family history.

boil

Enough with the stories and on to the Southern food.  Pralines are actually very easy to make, but hard to get right the first time. Thankfully, even if you mess up, it’s still gonna taste pretty good.  I strongly suggest that if you are not familiar with them, buy a few so you know what consistency you’re aiming for.  For this post, I tried out Paul Prudhomme’s recipe and my family recipe.  Both produce very good and very different pralines.  It really just depends on what you like. Paul’s recipe produces a darker, richer candy that walks a thin line between crumbly and chewy, while the family recipe is lighter and crumblier, with more of a sugar sweetness rather than a caramel sweetness.  I’m sure the variation in the sugar to butter ratio between these recipes has a little to do with this.

boil

To balance out my natural bias, I made plenty to share with friends and co-workers. The clear favorite was Prudhomme’s pralines, but all pralines were properly devoured by lunchtime.  Only myself, the Head Southerner, and his wife preferred my family recipe, mostly because we share a love of sweetened condensed milk.  If your sweet tooth need’s tickling, give one (or both) of these recipes a shot and let us know any stories you might have on pralines.  Till we eat again….

Ben O.
Head of Southern Food Engineering

praline

Paul Prudhomme’s Pecan Pralines

  • 1-1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 2 tbsp vanilla or 1 tbsp each vanilla and bourbon

Melt the butter in a large, heavy pan over high heat.  As soon as it’s melted, add cream and sugars.  Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly.  Add milk and chopped pecans and cook for 4 minutes more, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking and whisking for 5 minutes. Add the pecan halves and vanilla and continue cooking and whisking till done (approx 15-20 minutes).  A candy thermometer will read about 230-240 degrees when it’s ready.When done, remove the pan from the heat and quickly scoop out the batter onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Let cool completely before storing in plastic wrap or airtight container.


family

Na-Na’s Pecan Pralines

  • 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups pecan pieces

Melt butter over medium heat. When melted, add sugars, milks, and salt.  Slowly bring to a boil, whisking occasionally to prevent/monitor scalding.  When the candy thermometer reads 230-235 degrees, remove from heat and stir in nuts.  Quickly scoop out batter onto wax or parchment paper.

A few notes on making pralines:

  • Don’t feel married to the candy thermometer.  Make test pralines as you get close to done, watching for the perfect consistency and opaqueness.  It’s usually good to go when it loses its sheen and begins to dull, and a thread will form on top of the batter when drizzled from a spoon.
  • Do not try to multiply or divide the recipe.  Speaking from experience, it won’t work out well.
  • Whisk the batter often early in cooking, but only enough to keep from burning as it gets close to done. To much whisking late in the game may lead to crystallization.
  • Boil water in the pan with all cooking utensils to aid in cleanup.
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18 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Cooking Tutorial, Food, Southern Food, Southern Kitchen, Southern Recipes

18 responses to “Southern Kitchen – Pralines vs Pralines

  1. Diana

    Have been making pralines for a few years myself. And I make 2 different kinds as I am from SA and my husband was from Louisiana. At Christmas time, our kids would always leave Santa a plate of them instead of cookies.

  2. Pam

    Favorite way to eat pralines? First I make them, cool and wrap in wax paper and store in a Christmas Tin, no matter the time of year. They must be stored in a Christmas Tin.

    The first taste is while “cleaning” the pot, it’s about spotless by the time I’m through with it. Now, having said that…the real fun begins around 10pm when I can wait no longer. I stroll into the kitchen and slowly open the tin’s lid, trying to be as quiet as possible. I don’t want to alert the household that the pralines are open and ready to eat. Somethings I like to keep to myself. I take one wax paper wrapped piece of heaven and place it on one of my mother’s small dessert plates that have beautiful handpainted dogwood blossoms and remind me of her. I pour ice cold milk into a beautiful glass, pick out a beautiful linen napkin and sneak into my bedroom. Where I sit in my favorite chair and slowly unwrap the prize, I love the feel of the wax paper against my fingertips and the difused crunchiness of the paper in my ears. The sweet smell of vanilla and toasted nuts hits my nose and then….the first tiny bite…I let the bite sit on my tongue and start to melt and then rub the grainy texture across the roof of my mouth. At last the first sip of icy cold milk washes it down and I am content. I sit back, think of all the wonderful people, times and events in my life and I say ThankYouGod.

    Feast

  3. Ben O.

    If ever in Nashville around 2nd Ave., stop by Leon’s for what may be the best pralines on the market. My first summer job was just around the corner from there. I’d stop in at least once a week to grab a couple of fresh made pralines on my lunch break. They’re as good (if not better) than any I’ve had in New Orleans.

    http://www.leonscandy.com/

  4. Love, love, love pralines 🙂 But to be honest I now live off praline crumble. Goes great with granola, parafit, ice cream and over berries. I would have to Na Na’s is how I know them best.

  5. These sound beyond amazing- my best friend in high school went to college in NOLA and used to bring pralines home all the time–mmmmm! 🙂

  6. Wendy

    Thank you NaNa! Just got back from charleston SC and was missing the pralines, my first try was a dud, but your recipe was the key. Thank you! Wendy

  7. Martha

    Hi, I worked at Paul’s La Kitchen in the French Quarters, in the bakery and I am from New Orleans and my pralines never came out that dark and were never chewy. They needed to be crumbly because they were also used for cakes. Did you use dark brown sugar and not let them cook long enough? Just wondering…

  8. Lady Fancy Pants

    I just Made Na na’s pralines and Scooped them in to Christmas cookie cutters, they are so yummy and cute!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. First attempt. They were tasty, very sugary and after a few days there were white spots on them. Not attractive. Help, please.

  10. Becki

    I tried Prudhommes recipe and these have to be the best pralines I’ve ever tasted, however, I’m having trouble removing them from the wax paper, they are completely cooled but stuck. Can you tell me what I did wrong?

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