Today we are cooking up some Southern food, or Southern candy to be more precise.
New Orleans Pecan Pralines!! This is truly a great candy that when made right has a delicious, smooth, and creamy texture. Like divinity and fudge, the Pecan Praline can be a little finicky as there are many factors involved in nailing the recipe. I call this the triple “P”.
Patience, Practice, and Persistence! making Pecan Pralines is undoubtedly an emotional experience. The slow process of stirring as you watch watch the sugar syrup slowly change colors from a creamy white to a toffee like color can be taxing to the impatient but don’t rush the process. Your patience will pay off as the calm joy of finally hitting your desired temperature quickly turns into frantic panic of mixing in the rest of your ingredients as you try to hit that sweet spot to form the perfect praline.
So if you enjoy a challenge and you don’t mind failure then making the Pecan Praline is a perfect candy for you to try. I’ll be sharing a few pointers through this post so that hopefully it will increase the chances for your success, but with that being said experience is the best teacher.
Let’s get Nuts
Let’s start off by talking nuts. Originally the Pecan Praline wasn’t made out of Pecans. It was made out of caramel and almonds in France (17th century), and because almonds don’t grow so well in Louisiana Pecans were used instead. My point is that you can use just about whatever nut you want to make these candies. I’ve made these with almonds and even walnuts with great results. You can even go nut free and add rice puffed cereal if you want to.
I personally like to toast the nuts in this recipe. I find that the toasted nuts do add a nice elevated flavor and it reduces the moisture content in the nuts which adds a nice texture to the finished product. This is optional.
What Sugar should you use?
I like to use turbinado sugar (raw sugar) as it’s cheap and readily available, but you can use white refined sugar, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, or any combination of the above mentioned. The darker sugars will produce a darker colored praline. The choice is yours as I’ve made this recipe with all of the above sugars with success and the one I liked the most was turbinado, for what it’s worth.
If you plan on using only refined white sugar then the addition of baking soda to the recipe will help increase the maillard reaction and help speed up the process of getting those beautiful caramel/toffee colors.
What milk should you use?
This is a question I get a lot when it comes to making pralines. The truth of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter as all milks will work for this recipe. With that being said different milks will produce different outcomes so I say experiment with the different options to see which one you prefer.
Heavy cream is a popular choice for making pralines. This will produce a very rich and creamy candy. I personally like using buttermilk as I like the overall creaminess and slight tang that it delivers in this candy. Evaporated milk is another popular choice as well.
I’ve made this candy with all of the above including half & half, goats milk, and whole milk. If you are the experimenting type, give them all a try and see which one suits your tastes. If you would rather not make 6 different batches of pralines then just stick with either buttermilk or cream, it’ll be fine.
10 Tips on Making the Perfect Pecan Praline
- Make this candy on a nice day with low humidity. If the humidity is high, cook the pralines a few degrees (1 – 2) above your target.
- Have all of your ingredients readily available and close by.
- Don’t double this recipe. At least the first few times till you get the hang of it😉
- Don’t try to speed the process up by increasing the heat during the cooking stage.
- Don’t under mix or over mix 😅. Slow steady mixing at the beginning while the sugar melts is perfect then more frequent consistent stirring towards the end as the temperature starts to reach soft ball stage (Patience is key here)
- Pay attention to your thermometer. I like to start checking for soft ball a little early so as to not overcook the mixture. Our goal is 135f – 137f.
- Learn to read the syrup. As you get closer to soft ball stage the praline mixture
- Once your praline mixture has finished cooking and your ready to start forming the candies, work quickly.
- If you praline mixture starts to thicken to quickly (when you are forming your candies) add a few drops of warm water or warm milk to loosen the mixture up
- If your Pralines end up with a grainy texture you can use a small amount of Corn Syrup in the recipe to help overcome this issue. This is not necessary, but it’s a great crutch if you are having troubles in the beginning.
Here are a few things you might find useful when making this recipe
- Kotai Kitchen Knives (for 15% off use discount code – 2guys )
- Custom Cutting Board
- DOT Kitchen Temperature Reader
- Candy Thermometer
- Silpat mat
- Mexican Vanilla
- Ice Cream Scooper (just under 2 tablespoons)
I hope you enjoy this week’s video and recipe. If you give this a go be sure to let me know how your came out and if you have any questions ask away in the comment section below.
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