Get your sweet tooth ready….. this one is going to send you into a sugar coma!
Well, I’m home from New Orleans. The meeting I attended (primary reason for being there) went really well. But as you’ve been reading what was really exciting for me was the sights, sounds, and seasonings of N’awlins. As you know, I found the New Orleans School of Cooking and signed up for a class. We made such wonderful treats – Gumbo to die for, Jambalaya to make your heart sing, bread pudding to satisfy every craving for comfort, and Pralines…. oh my!
You should know, I bought a box of freshly made Pralines from the school’s general store to bring home to my husband. But today, I decided that would be a great place to start! So here we go… get your aprons on, let’s make some delicious New Orleans’ Pralines.
You’re going to need butter. This is important and I cannot stress that enough. NEVER EVER substitute margarine for butter. I’d go a step further and say never ever BUY margarine!
In a heavy stainless steel pan, combine 1 1/2 c sugar, 3/4 c light brown sugar, packed., 1/2 c milk, 6 TBSP butter (3/4 of a stick), 1 Tsp vanilla (don’t use artificial, just doesn’t have the same flavour!) and 1 1/2 c pecans.
Now, if you are Canadian and you read “3/4 of a stick” you would do exactly what I did… ask “what the heck is a stick?” Basically, a stick is 4 oz of butter or 1/2 cup. So 3/4 of a stick… well, you figure it out!
Okay, you’re going to get everything mixed in a pot, and bring it slowly to a “softball stage”. Should take about 3-5 minutes to get there. Stir this constantly – do not stop! It burns really really quickly! To check for that softball stage, take a glass of ice water and drop a bit of your butter mixture into it. If it forms soft balls as it drops to the bottom, you’re there! To double-check your softball stage, take those same drops and see if you can press them against the glass – did they stay there? You’re done!
Remove the pot from the heat and keep on stirring! The mixture is going to thicken and become creamy and cloudy, and the pecans are going to stay suspended in the mixture rather than floating on top. When the sugary mixture sounds a bit gritty again you’re done! Should look like this:
Now, what I should have said is this – before you start, lay out a sheet of parchment paper because when you’re at this stage with the pot, it’s too late to stop and do it! If you are using waxed paper, be sure to use it ‘wax side down’ and also lay a sheet of newspaper or paper towel under it as the wax will melt onto your countertop!
Okay, where were we….
Ah, ready to make pralines!
Now, using the same wooden spoon you’ve been stirring with, spoon out whatever size you wish (mine are about 2″ circles) onto the parchment and let cool completely. You’ll be ready to devour these little goodies in no time! As they cool, they will lighten up in colour – as shown here:
This makes about 24 x 2″ pralines. You could make more if you wanted to make them smaller. Smaller is not such a bad idea, they are insanely sweet. But then again, I didn’t see a single SMALL praline in New Orleans!
That’s one of the first recipes from my time in NOLA. Let’s make a Gumbo or Jambalaya next?
Until next time,