We like our romances sweet, and our pralines sweeter!
At Mardi Gras Carnivale Random House sponsored the pralines table, and we couldn’t have enough of the delicacy–they’re so delicious that we wanted to share the sweetness with our readers, courtesy of the New Orleans School of Cooking! If you’re in town for the convention and need a taste of New Orleans, you have to stop by–it’s one of the must-see foodie stops in the city, featuring cooking classes with hometown chefs and a general store chock-full of ingredients that are special to the area. For readers who can’t make it to NOLA, Gretchen Erickson of The New Orleans School of Cooking shared her knowledge of pralines and the perfect recipe for you to make them right at home in your kitchen.
If you love this recipe, or can’t wait to try out other Creole dishes and confections, take a look at CLASS ACT: Simple, Authentic Recipes from the New Orleans School of Cooking. Onto the recipe!
Creole confections occupy a unique position in the United States; the most popular of these is the praline. Pralines derive their name from Marshal Luplesis-Praslin (1598-1695) and his butler’s recipe for almonds coated in sugar, used as a digestive aid. When Louisiana was settled by French colonists, native pecans were substituted for almonds.
No lengths were spared by the Creoles to achieve perfection in candy making. Along with their vast collection of Creole recipes, cooks had their own secret method for making the best pralines, which they guarded carefully and handed down from generation to generation.
Today, pralines are as many and varied as they were in the very beginning. We hope your memories of New Orleans are as sweet as pralines!
1½ C. sugar 6 Tbsp. butter (3/4 stick)
¾ C. light brown sugar, packed 1½ C. pecans, (roasted optional)
½ C. milk 1 Tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients and bring to a “softball stage”* (238 – 240 degrees), stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir until mixture thickens (again stirring constantly), becomes creamy and cloudy, and pecans stay suspended in mixture. Spoon out on buttered waxed paper, aluminum foil or parchment paper. When using waxed paper, be sure to buffer with newspaper underneath, as hot wax will transfer to whatever is beneath.
NOTE: To roast pecans, bake them on a sheet pan at 275 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant
OPTIONS: Praline sauce (add ½ cup corn syrup to mixture.) Chocolate covered praline candy. Flavored pralines (chocolate, coffee, brandy, etc.)
***Makes 1-50 Pralines Depending On Size***
Stop on by if you’re in town! The New Orleans School of Cooking. 524 St. Louis Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. 504-525-2665.