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Old 03-05-2005, 10:13 PM
GregoryD
 
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On Sun, 17 Apr 2005 20:24:25 +0000, Michelle in WA state wrote:

Just curious: What kind of texture are pralines supposed to have?

I have a box of 'em here, "Kate Latter's" brand, that came -- with
attendant regional fanfare -- from New Orleans. Maybe I've never had
pralines before (except in ice cream or something), but for some reason I
was expecting something quite different. These are basically disks of
fairly crystalline light-brown sugar with a few pecan pieces in 'em.

Actually, apart from the shape, they remind me quite a lot of the "maple
sugar candy" items I tried (once) years ago: Sweet enough to knock you to
your knees, and very little other flavor really.

I guess I had always thought, for some reason, that pralines were rather
heavy on the pecan, and that the sugar was more or less a firm-to-hard
rather caramelized sort of candy, smoothy/creamy rather than
crystalline/grainy.

Was I mistaken, or are these "pralines" just exceedingly poor
representatives of their species?

Thanks for any enlightenment!


Pralines, as known in the southern US, come in two varieties... the firm
crystalline candy and the soft and smooth variety.

The difference?

The care taken to make sure that the sugar/milk/butter mixture is not
overcooked. If you cook it too long, you will end up with a more
crystalline candy. Some people prefer one kind, some prefer the other. My
mom makes the harder, crystalline kind... which was why I always tended to
prefer my grandmother's. Turns out, my mom got her recipe from a cookbook
and my grandmother received hers from her mother.

Me? I like the softer variety. I use heavy cream instead of milk to keep
the mixture rich (my own variation), and I lightly roast the pecans (275
at 25) to bring out their flavor. People have gone nuts over these when I
make them around Christmastime.

Recipe (from memory):

* 1.5 cups sugar
* .75 cup light brown sugar, packed
* .5 cup heavy cream
* 2 tsp vanilla
* .75 stick butter
* 1.5 cups roasted pecans

Combine all ingredients and bring to soft ball stage
(238-240 degrees F.. yeah, get a candy thermometer), stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir until mixture thickens, becomes cloudy, and
pecans stay suspended in mixture. Place a newspaper down, and place wax
paper on top. Spoon out your pralines on the wax paper.

GregoryD