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Pecan Pralines

Recipe from Pinehurst Inn Bed & Breakfast in Bayfield, Wisconsin

It all started when Mike and I took a cooking class at New Orleans School of Cooking during one of our many trips to NOLA–what a fun afternoon. A recipe for pralines was demonstrated and Mike even volunteered to assist the chef in scooping out the luscious delights. I wish I had thought to take a picture back then, but I was just enjoying the moment (sitting back watching Mike work in the kitchen). When we got back home, I could not wait to try out the recipe. Unfortunately, it was a total flop (not because of the recipe, but my inexperience)–my consistency was way off, the pralines were too gooey and didn’t harden properly. The consistency was better on my next batch, but as the pralines hardened, they were full of sugar crystals. So my quest began to find the “perfect” praline recipe (at least from Mike’s and my perspective). Over the years, I tried many different recipes for pralines and was amazed at how many different techniques there are for making pralines. I would go on binges trying all sorts of recipes and techniques to create this perfect decadent treat. After many binges and corresponding sugar-highs and crashes, I came up with our perfect praline recipe, which I am now willing to share. This is my tried and true praline recipe, with step-by-step instructions to help you make this creamy, fudgy, crunchy, sweet treat. CAUTION: THEY ARE ADDICTING! 

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour and 15 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour and 30 Minutes
Servings: 18 to 24 depending on size

Ingredients:

  • TOASTED PECANS
  • 2 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 2 TBLSP salted butter, melted
  • PRALINES
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 TBLSP dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 TBLSP salted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1 TBLSP pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. TOAST PECANS: Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. (Optional - Place pecan in large baggie, lay flat and partially close. With a rolling pin, roll over the pecans in the baggie to break them up a bit. I usually make 2 passes with the rolling pin so you still have large pieces, but feel free to keep the pecan halves as is). In a small bowl, combine pecans and melted butter and mix thoroughly to coat the pecans. Spread coated pecans on prepared baking sheet and place on middle rack in oven and bake a total of 35 to 40 minutes (after 15 minutes stir pecans, then continue baking, stirring every 10 minutes until lightly toasted). Remove from oven and set aside until ready to use.

  2. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and have 2 tablespoons ready for dropping pralines, set aside. Alternatively, use lined muffin tins for making more uniform pralines (as pictured).

  3. Butter sides of heavy 3 or 4 quart pan (I use a 4 quart cast iron dutch oven). In pan over low-medium heat, combine white and brown sugars, buttermilk, heavy cream, corn syrup, and salt, stirring constantly until sugars are melted and mixture is smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, attach a candy thermometer, making sure it does not touch the bottom of the pan, and bring mixture to a boil. Boil gently until the thermometer reaches 230-235 degrees F (the soft-ball stage), stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a boil, it will take about 12 minutes to get to soft-ball stage. Remove from heat and let cool to 150 degrees F (about 10 minutes).

  4. Add butter and vanilla to the pan and stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken slightly. Add toasted pecans, then vigorously stir until the mixture becomes creamy and opaque and has thicken some more. Using the 2 tablespoons you have at the ready, quickly drop pralines (about a heaping tablespoon each) onto the parchment lined baking sheets, they will spread (or drop pralines into lined muffin tins). The mixture will continue to thicken and it is likely that the last few pralines will be very thick and will not spread like the others (but they still will be delicious, they'll just look a bit different).

  5. Let pralines cool completely (about 30-45 minutes), then they should come off the parchment paper without any problem. They are now ready to be enjoyed. Wrap unused pralines in plastic and store in airtight container or baggie.

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