Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pecan Pralines

The Mr. and I were in Charleston a few weeks ago.

He went for a meeting . . .

I went to relax.

It isn't often that the two of us get away without the cherubs.

We took advantage of returning to a city that we love!

When we were first married, we lived in Columbia, SC.

Charleston was a little over an hour away and we were young, childless, and spunky!

We would get in the car with our dear friends, Clay and Amy, and we'd spend the day in Charleston.

Much hasn't changed in 20 years in the city of Charleston:

The market is still the place to shop,

the restaurants are still amazing,

and the time walking the battery and enjoying the beautiful surrounds is still relaxing.

We always loved getting pralines when we were in Charleston.

There's something about that buttery, brown sugary, pecan treat that is purely the best!

While we were on this trip, we walked by the store front every day that offered a free sample!

If they were giving,

we were getting!

We didn't buy any pralines until our last day so that we could bring a treat home for the cherubs!

Today, being Fat Tuesday, we are celebrating New Orlean's style!

For dessert, I decided to make pecan pralines.

I found this recipe on about.com.  Of all the recipes I looked at, this seemed to be most like the pralines that we like to eat. 

We prefer the soft, almost crumbly. pecan pralines versus the soft-chewy caramel type.

I did three things:
  1. I didn't use a candy thermometer . . .I don't have one.  I used the "water test" to know if my candy mixture was ready.
  2. I didn't toast the pecans.  I didn't think it would make that much of a difference.
  3. I halved the recipe.  I ended up with 8 pralines, which is plenty for my family!  The recipe I'm posting is not halved, but it's easily to do so!

Pecan Pralines

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 tbsp butter, cubed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and evaporated milk over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then insert a candy thermometer.

Cook the candy, stirring occasionally, until the candy reaches 240 degrees on the thermometer.

Once the proper temperature is reached, remove the pan from the heat and drop the chunks of butter on top, but do not stir. Allow the pan to sit for one minute.

After a minute, add the vanilla extract and the pecans, and begin to stir smoothly and constantly with a wooden spoon. Soon the candy will begin to get thicker and lighter in color.

Continue to stir until the candy starts to hold its shape. It should still be easy to stir, however. It is important not to stir too much, as pralines quickly go from fluid to rock-solid. Once it is a lighter, opaque brown and holds its shape, quickly begin to drop small spoonfuls of the candy onto the prepared baking sheet.

Work quickly to form the candies, as the pralines will start to set in the saucepan. If the candy stiffens before you’re done scooping, add a spoonful of very hot water and stir until it loosens, then continue scooping until you have formed all the pralines.

Allow the candy to fully set at room temperature, for about 30 minutes. Store New Orleans Pralines in an airtight container at room temperature.

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