Homemade Pralines

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No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a sampling of pralines—those intensely sweet disks of sugar, butter, and pecans. I learned this during my first visit to New Orleans with Matt a couple of years ago. Now the question that is open for debate is exactly where you want to buy these little delicacies. My vote goes to Southern Candymakers, which is a family-owned store in the French Quarter. When you walk in the door off of Decatur Street you are immediately greeted with the vision of fresh pralines being scooped onto a marble slab. Only two words can describe these candies. Simply… decadent.

But alas, everything that you can purchase in the store can also be homemade. And for the fourth and final installment of my February Homemade Baking Challenge, I’ll be showing you how to make these little delicacies right in your own kitchen. Very similar to the homemade caramels that I shared with you earlier this month, the basis for pralines consists of sugar, butter, and milk. I think that often making candy can be intimidating and that’s why we default to buying it in the store. I’m here to demystify the process and show you how it can easily be done in your kitchen.

For those that are interested in a little history, French settlers brought the recipe for pralines to Louisiana. Although the original French recipe called for almonds, New Orleans chefs substituted pecans and added cream to thicken the confection, thus creating what became known throughout the American South as the praline.

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Homemade Pralines Recipe
Makes approximately 20 candies
Adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/8 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
In large saucepan over medium heat, combine pecans, sugar, butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla. Heat to between 234 and 240 degrees F (112 to 116 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from the water and placed on a flat surface.

When your mixture has reached the desired temperature, remove from heat and transfer hot pan to an ice bath. Beat the mixture until light in color and thick, then spoon (using two spoons) onto a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper brushed with butter. Let cool, then peel wax paper or parchment away from the pralines.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Try not to stir the syrup after it starts boiling to prevent early crystallization. If you’re tempted to scrape down the sides, don’t do it — instead, cover the pot a couple of minutes and let the steam wash them down.

And that wraps up my February Homemade Baking Challenge! Feel free to check out my Homemade CaramelsHomemade Marshmallows, or Homemade Ritz Crackers if you’re interested in making some treats of your own!

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19 thoughts on “Homemade Pralines

  1. I have so enjoyed your homemade series Heather, and also the lovely little background stories you shared. New Orleans is a place I would so love to visit one of these days. I bet the food there is just out of this world…just like these wonderful pralines! I was very interested to learn how they came to be! As they say over at Southern Candymakers… laissez le bon temps rouler
    ;-)

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  2. What a great way to finish your wonderful series, Heather! Your pralines looks amazing. I’m a huge fan because I adore nuts and crunchy but I only new the French ones. I didn’t know the history behind them thought! :-) I love pecans too so I’m definitely bookmarking your recipe. Thank you! :-)

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  3. I don’t know why you’re posts haven’t shown up in my reader for the past 3 weeks! Argghhh. I am going to try to fix that my clicking unfollow and then clicking follow again. (And if you get some weird alert that I unfollowed you, you’ll know why!)

    These look nummy. I’ve been craving nut sweets. But more than that, I’ve been craving a substitute for Ritz, which I will no longer buy because of all the added ingredients. I’m popping over to that post right now to get the recipe!

    You’re a treasure, Heather. February was a great month of blog posts for you–I’ve enjoyed them all!

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    • The mysteries of Word Press!! Although I love it dearly, every now and then there is a glitch that just leaves me scratching my head.

      The pralines are a real treat. You could probably substitute in any type of nuts that you are craving. I’m a big fan of cashews and I bet they would be delicious mixed in!

      On Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM, Sweet Precision wrote:

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      • Speaking of cashews, I just made up a bunch of not-very-sweet cashew cake (with whole wheat flour) doused with not-very-sweet dulce de leche (I have a problem with the combination of a lot of sugar and refined white flour). Now I know what to do with the rest of that huge bag of cashews!

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        • That sounds like a really interesting recipe! Although I have a terrible sweet tooth I really enjoy desserts that are not cloyingly sweet and somewhat understated. Will you be posting about your cashew cake? It sounds like a unique recipe!

          On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 9:58 AM, Sweet Precision wrote:

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  4. Oh my! My mouth watered the first time I read your post and is again. Last time dad and I were in New Orleans out hotel was way too close to Southern Candymakers and I must have gone in every day for my ‘friendly sample’. Your pralines look scrumptious. I look forward to visiting YOUR kitchen for any ‘friendly’ samples you may have!

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    • They are such a wonderful treat and remind me so much of New Orleans. I think that from now on I will be getting all my treats from Southern Candymakers. I also really enjoyed their fudge and was thinking that would be a fun baking adventure!

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