Pralines are hard sweets almost the same as peanut brittle. Pralines originated in France where the confection has been made since the seventeenth century. Pralines are made with caramelized brown sugar and nuts. When Frenchmen settled in Louisiana, they brought the recipe for pralines with them. Louisiana at that time had plenty of sugar cane fields and pecan trees. This made pecan pralines popular in the American South. Pralines became synonymous with Louisiana and pralines are traditionally served from November until the end of the Mardi Gras season. Pralines are also normally served to guests of a household for any special occasion. Some versions of pralines made in the United States include cream.
You, too, can make pecan pralines at home using a simple and foolproof recipe that is guaranteed to bring completely satisfying results.
- In a large microwave safe mixing bowl combine one half pint of whipping cream and one pound of light brown sugar, a pinch of Cream of Tartar and a pinch of salt. Place inside the microwave and nuke the ingredients for seven to ten minutes on high setting. The length of time to cook the ingredients will depend on the wattage of the microwave oven. The ingredients will cook to a soft-ball stage in 13 minutes on a 900-watt microwave.
- Lightly roast two cups of pecans on a pan over low heat, turning the pecans frequently to prevent them from getting burned. Allow the pecan to cool as you remove the whipping cream and sugar mixture from the microwave oven.
- Add two tablespoons of butter to the hot whipping cream mixture and stir it until the butter is melted. Continue to stir until the mixture has lost its gloss and turns cloudy. Quickly add the roasted pecan nuts and one teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
- Spread a long sheet of aluminum foil or waxed paper over some folded newspapers if you do not have a heatproof counter top. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the foil or waxed paper and leave them to cool and harden. Store the pecan pralines in an airtight container. The recipe will yield about 24 pecan pralines.
- In a heavy bottom saucepan combine three-fourths cup of white granulated sugar, one and three-fourths cup light brown sugar, one half cup of evaporated milk and bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Stir the mixture constantly. The mixture will be done in about six minutes. The mixture should reach the soft-ball stage before you remove it from the fire.
- Immediately add one-fourth stick of butter, one teaspoon of vanilla extract and a dash of salt. Stir until the butter is melted and the rest of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Add one cup of pecan halves into the mix and give it another stir until the mixture has lost its gloss.
- Quickly drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto waxed paper or aluminum foil that you have laid out over folded newspapers and allow the pecan pralines to cool before storage.
Make sure that all your ingredients as well as your aluminum foil or waxed paper liners are ready before you start cooking the pralines. You have to work fast once it is cooked because as soon as the mixture begins to cool you will not be able to drop the mixture onto the aluminum foil or waxed paper liner.