Pralines are a southern candy loaded with pecan goodness. This recipe combines the old fashioned molasses version with the newer sugar recipes and gets the best of both worlds
I was given a copy of Toni Tipton-Marton’s Jubilee by Clarkson Potter Publishers. As always, all opinions are honest and my own.
Making your own caramel-ly pralines is not as difficult as you’d think. This recipe combines old world roots with new world conveniences.
It is a perfect way to highlight pecans and are perfect enjoyed on their own. The are also great chopped into pieces and served as a topping on other recipes. Make extra so you can have some for each.
Before we really dive into the recipe here, we need to go over some really serious business. If we are going to make pralines, we should know how to say the word.
Do you say pr-ah-leen? You know like when you are at the dentist and he asks you to say “ah.”
Or do you say pr-ay-leen? You know, like what you do in church.
And while we are on the subject, do you have pe-cans in them? Like you can do it.
Or is it pe-cahns? Like he got fooled by a con artist.
I wonder if there is a pair that goes together. Like if you say pr-ah-leens that you must say pe-cahns because if one a sounds like an o they both should?
I am not sure we will get to the bottom of this mystery today, but I would love to hear your thoughts! Let me know in the comments or hit me up on social media to let me know how they should be said.
No matter how you say it, you should give making your own pralines a try. Toni says in her new book, Jubilee, that pralines were originally made from with molasses and pecans.
Molasses was a low value by-product from refining sugar, so it was easy to acquire. The molasses was boiled until dark and caramelized then mixed with peanuts, pecans, sesame seeds or sometimes cornflakes.
For a creamy praline, a little butter was added. Then the candy was poured onto corn husks to cool and set up. They were sometimes even sold door to door.
As sugar became more affordable, boiled sugar mixtures began to be used to make pralines. This recipe uses just a hint of molasses as a not to their origins along with the granulated sugar.
I used milk in my recipe because I always have whole milk on hand and rarely have cream. If you want a thicker, creamier candy you are welcome to use cream instead.
This look at the evolution of pralines may help you appreciate the next bite even more. That crunch from the pecans and the sweet slightly crumbly buttery feeling from the candy itself blend into such a delicious treat.
Some people liken the flavor to a nuttier version of fudge, but it is definitely a class of its own. These candies have a touch of nostalgia, a healthy dose of southern and a kick of sweetness that will have you falling in love.
If you are looking for a beautiful walk through history and southern cuisine, Jubilee is for you. The sultry pictures and fabulous recipes are sure to make you want to spend a little more time in the kitchen.
There is a nice array of recipes and plenty of peeks into the origins as well. With the amazing photography, you could use it as a coffee table book when it’s not in use in the kitchen!
Tools for making this recipe:
- You will want a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan because the mixture will get extremely hot and may foam and grow. I used my cast iron saucier to make sure I had plenty of room and minimize the chance of scorching it.
- A candy thermometer is not absolutely necessary, but it is a much more accurate and easy way to ensure you got to the right temperature. Judging soft ball is harder than reading a temperature. Plus a few degrees one way or the other can make a big difference in candy making.
- You will also want parchment paper or wax paper to drop your candy onto.
How do I know when my candy is ready to come off the heat?
- The easiest way is to use a candy thermometer and make sure it reads 240 F.
- If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you cook it to soft ball stage. To determine if it is at soft ball stage, drop a tiny bit off a spoon into a bowl of cold water. If it forms a soft ball, it is ready. If it forms a hard ball, it has been cooked too long. If it falls apart, it needs to cook longer. Be very careful because the hot sugar mixture is sticky and can burn you.
Southern Pecan Pralines
- 1½ cups packed brown sugar
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons molasses or corn syrup if you prefer
- 1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 2 cups pecans*
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- First, toast the pecans. You can do this on the stove over medium-low heat or in the oven at 300° F. Heat them until they are just fragrant and toasty, 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Remove them from the heat and set them aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set aside.
- In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the sugars, molasses, and milk. Heat over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
- Bring to a boil and continue to cook for about 5 minutes. The candy should be at the soft ball stage or read 240° F on a candy thermometer.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, pecans, salt and vanilla. Stir vigorously for about 2-3 more minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Quickly drop heaping Tablespoons full of praline mixture onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Allow them to cool completely then store in an airtight container at room temperature.