Friday, January 29, 2010

New Orleans Superbowl Party Snack - PECAN PRALINES

In France, they are made with Almonds, but in New Orleans, The PECAN is the Queen and this caramelized sugar creation is the KING of Mardi Gras country! Pronounced PRAWLEAN (and BTW, Pecan is pronounced like pee KHAN (think Star Trek's Ricardo Montalbahn)... Only tourists call them PEE CAN (those are kept under the bed)). The praline derived it's name from Marshal Luplesis-Praslin and his butler's recipe fro almond coated in sugar. When the French settled around New Orleans, the pecan was substituted, cream was added to thicken the confection. As in all things, legends have arisen from the candy. My very favorite paints du Plessis-Praslin as a notorious ladies man, who asked his chef to come up with an irresistible treat he could present to the women he would court. It is said that he would put the sweet sugary nuts into little parcels marked with his name, which is why people began to call the sweets after him. Two things about this recipe...
  • sugar, butter, fattening... Really fattening. So, I am going to dedicate this post to one of my favorite bloggers, Penny from Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. Penny just signed up for Weight Watchers and announced that to the world yesterday. Everything in moderation is what you will learn, and I wish you luck... sorry about this post.
  • Next, you need to stir constantly for about 10-15 minutes. Your arm will get a workout. Learn to be ambidextrous. . Hook up your iPod and pick your playlist accordingly. I played Elvis. "Teddy Bear" and "Viva Las Vegas" worked perfect to get me in the rhythm. Unfortunately, at the key 10 minute mark, the slower "Love Me Tender" started. Much harder to keep rhythm.
Go ahead, hit play on this and imagine yourself stirring away while you read the recipe...

Mise en Place (assemble your ingredients)

1 1/2 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar packed
1/2 cup Milk
6 Tablespoons Butter
1 1/2 cups Pecans
1 Tablespoon Vanilla

Combine all ingredients in saucier pan over medium heat and bring to a softball stage (240 degrees) while stirring constantly.

Stir until mixture thickens, becomes creamy and cloudy and pecans become suspended.

If you have never made pralines before, take a close look at the shot on the left (early stages of cooking), and the shot on the right (when the mixture is done cooking).
It is a little lighter in color, but you can see on the spoon that the mixture has thickened.

If you double click the images, the magic of the Internet will make the photos much larger for easy comparison.

Spoon out on buttered wax paper or parchment paper. Be sure to buffer with a newspaper, as hot wax will transfer to whatever is beneath. Work VERY fast, as the candy will harden quickly.

Personally, I prefer the classic Praline in the recipe above. But some folks like chocolate pralines.

Once I had 4/5ths of the batch spooned out, I just added a few chocolate chips to the mix. You can see that this addition cooled the mixture a great deal. So, instead of the thick smooth look of the earlier pralines, they came out thicker and more cookie like look.

Here they are side by side... The look was a little off, but they tasted just FINE!

GOOD EATS, and perfect for the party. You can make ahead, but they are by far best if served fresh. Maybe if you have little interest in the actual game, you could start them at the beginning of the second quarter so you can serve them fresh and a little warm at the 2 minute warning.



  1. What a great post! I've never made these. Isn't there some problem making them when there's too much moisture in the air? Love the photos you took. Very helpful!!!

  2. I'm allergic to pecans but dang, this made me want to make some peanut brittle in the worst way.

  3. What a fun post - I'm still singing "Viva, Las Vegas!" The pralines look sinfully delicious, and rightfully so. I love pecans and miss my huge pecan tree in Texas . . . they just aren't the same up here.

  4. yes, soooo fattening! But I don't think I can resist!

  5. There is nothing like a pecan praline from New Orleans! YUMMY!

  6. These are gorgeous pralines--what a great way to celebrate the Saints!

  7. Mmmm, I want to lick the screen for these sweet treats-glad you used pecans! A very interesting post, Dave...thanks.

  8. drooooooling. i love these! the jambalaya below looks amazing too! have a great weekend!

  9. OMG... I'm losing it over "pee can" being kept under the bed...LMAO!! You're a hoot.


  10. Mags and I think so much a like that I find it scary. But how did you know that we kept it under the bed?

  11. Mmm... love anything pecan! What a great idea for the big game.

  12. These make my teeth hurt looking at them, but in a good way. I love that sugary buttery mixture. These would not make it to any superbowl party because I would have eaten all of them before leaving the house!

  13. OK Dave, you are killing me here. I'm not sure I could resist these. The hardest part of being on this diet is reading posts like this. To add to the pressure we just saw It's Complicated with Meryl Streep and Steve Martin and now I am craving Chocolate croissants. I am determined to make them soon. But keep it up. I can take it!

  14. Can I have one of these without being forced to watch football? They sound so good!

  15. Fabulous take on praw-leans and pah-cawns! You are the best (honorary) Cajun chef I know! Bravo for a job well done, cher! Cheers!

  16. That’s wonderful. I hope I have plenty of time to make one of those candies. Though, I after very busy weekdays I think need to indulge myself into something sweet.