Brown Sugar and Butter and Pecans: Happy National Praline Day!

Praline

Welcome back to Kathey Jo’s Kitchen! The praline is a Southern tradition. You create it with sugar, corn syrup, milk, butter, and pecans. The praline was traced back to Chef Clement Lassagne, who worked for César duc de Choiseul, Comte du Plessis-Praslin around the 17th century.

Chef Lassagne’s original praline recipe brought together almonds bound by a caramelized coating. He named it for his employer, the praslin. Through the centuries in Europe, the Southern praline eventually evolved from the praslin. In France and Belgium, the recipe often features ground nuts and cocoa, instead of a halved nut.

The pralines of today’s SSouth came through New Orleans via Ursuline nuns. These French nuns taught their young charges the domestic arts, which included cooking and baking. The girls married and moved throughout the South, bringing with them the praline

and improving on it as the years went by.

During the mid-1700s, almonds weren’t easily found in the South, as the original recipe called for a great treat. Pecan trees are native to Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, and other Southern states. Instead of letting the recipe go, they modified the recipe to incorporate pecans and not almonds. The pecan praline quickly became the mainstay in the method throughout the South.

Southern Pralines

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Two tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cream, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until a candy thermometer reads 230° (thread stage), stirring occasionally.
  2. Test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.
  3. Carefully stir in pecans and butter. Cook, occasionally stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 236° (soft-ball stage).
  4. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until the candy thickens and begins to lose its gloss, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Quickly drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper; spread to form 2-inch patties. Let stand until set. Store in an airtight container.

Almond Pralines

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • One tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Juice of half a lemon (1 tablespoon)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place almonds on a baking sheet, and toast until golden brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Butter a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet. Spread toasted almonds in an even layer on the pan.
  3. Place sugar and water in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Place over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, brushing down sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystals from forming. After dissolving the sugar, cook without stirring until sugar is deep amber.
  4. Add lemon juice; immediately pour over almonds, coating with a thin layer. If caramel doesn’t cover all the nuts, tilt the pan slightly to distribute, or stir in nuts with a wooden spoon, being careful not to touch caramel or hot pan.
  5. Cool completely. Gently twist pan to release praline. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

 

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