The trend toward making pralines in flavors like chocolate and pina-colada is interesting, but my favorite flavor of pralines is praline-flavored. When pecans are falling from the trees, it’s fun to make a million of them and keep them for the holiday season.
You will be melting sugar here. If that stuff splatters on your skin, it will burn all the way to the bone (or seem to). It is essential to use a candy thermometer to make pralines, because it’s critically important that the temperature of the mixture reach 238 degrees–and not go much beyond that mark. Also, although you will probably use a cookie sheet to cool the pralines, the best thing of all is a marble slab.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 3 Tbs. butter
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 Tbs. vanilla (my favorite: Ronald Reginald’s Melipone vanilla, available from the Sno-Wizard outfit.)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cup pecan pieces, to taste
1. Combine everything except the vanilla and pecans in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon as you cook, being very careful not to splash. Scrape down the sides of the pan any sugar granules that may get up there.
2. When the mixture turns translucent, add the pecans and the vanilla. Continue to cook and stir. The mixture will begin to brown slowly. The whole trick to making good pralines–and it is tricky–is to get them off the heat at the right point. The reading you should see on the candy thermometer should be the “soft ball” temperature, about 238 degrees. It will take about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. With a large spoon, drop some of the praline mixture onto a cookie sheet, parchment paper, or a marble slab, making discs about two inches across. Allow to cool. Remove with a very thin spatula and wrap tightly.
Makes 16-20 pralines