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Recipe: pralines

We’re doing the happy dance over here because we finished our taxes this weekend! It’s not as bad as all that, but it isn’t a good time or something anyone chooses to do voluntarily – except for tax professionals. I will admit that taxes have gotten easier for me because I’ve learned to document and track my finances throughout the year such that it’s now a matter of tabulating the totals and entering the numbers. I like doing the incremental work so that we don’t have to spend more than a few hours getting it all together come tax time. Thanks, Past Self!

It means that we can spend our spare time skiing and doing other things – but mostly skiing! While Neva was at doggy daycare, we skied a “no dogs allowed” trail since we can’t ski it when we want to take Neva out in the snow. I had forgotten how nice it is to be able to climb hard and not have to stop for or worry about doggy issues. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my pup, but I don’t have to do everything with her. She had fun, we had fun, and we were all happy to see one another again at the end of the day.

slapping skins on for the climb

soft snow in the trees (kinda crappy out of the trees)

my reward was (half of) this amazing bacon cheeseburger at oak

And it’s not like Neva didn’t get to go play in the backcountry, because the very next day Erin and Banjo joined all of us on a ski tour! Neva is getting better about minding Jeremy and keeping clear of his skis (and those sharp metal edges). She’s actually best about avoiding them when they are moving. When we all stop to rip skins or shed layers, she starts hopping around and between the skis which is when she’s most likely to cut a paw. To help her obedience when we’re on skis, we alternate days working with her while we hike. It’s all about fun for Neva, but for us, it’s all about training her so she can be safe AND have fun for many years to come.

erin and banjo on the way up

getting neva ready for trail running season

I just booked travel to see my parents in Virginia this spring. Spring is a fine time to visit my home state because Williamsburg is thick with green leaves, flowering dogwoods, azaleas, and a host of beautiful birds. Any later than mid spring and I just can’t handle the heat and humidity. There are some staples that I always bring back to Colorado with me – like Virginia country ham, Virginia peanuts, and praline pecans. I never ate a praline on its own until a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean I never ate one. I consumed more than the legal limit when I was kid – all of it in the form of ice cream because pralines and cream ice cream was a favorite in our house and my parents used to own an ice cream store. Fast forward almost 40 years and I’m thinking “how hard can it be to make your own pralines?”

sugar, light brown sugar, salt, vanilla, pecans, cream, butter

Yup, that’s all there is to it. Basically you’re cooking pecans in caramel on the stove and agitating the caramel until it turns grainy. At that point, start dropping the pralines to form the beloved candy of the South. DO get all of your equipment ready ahead of time, as caramel waits for no one when it’s time to start dropping pralines. DO use a saucepan no smaller than 4-quart capacity because this stuff wants to, and will, bubble up during cooking. DO use a candy thermometer so you can track the temperature of your caramel.

toast the pecans

place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan

Typically, you don’t want to disturb the sugar when you make caramel because it causes crystallization and sometimes (most of the time) winds up turning into a brick of hot hard sugar. In this case, you do want to encourage crystals to form to achieve that softer, creamier texture that resides somewhere between fudge and caramel.

stir until it boils

keep stirring until it reaches target temperature

remove from heat and continue to stir until grainy

As soon as the texture goes from smooth to grainy, immediately begin dropping spoonfuls of the praline mixture onto your prepared surface. Use parchment or silpat, but keep in mind that this caramelized sugar is hot. So don’t be sticking your finger in it or accidentally dribbling it on anyone you love. Don’t worry about the shape, you don’t have much time before the entire batch cools and solidifies in the saucepan, so work quickly.

let them cool for 10 minutes

they are especially good still warm

When you bite into a freshly-made warm praline, you will experience heaven melting on your tongue. These candies are simple to make as long as you follow the rules (just keep stirring). The total time from start to finish is about 15 minutes tops, which can be a good thing or a dangerous thing.

buttery sugary bliss

[print recipe]
from The Kitchn

1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (6 oz.) light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tbsps unsalted butter
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted

Line baking sheets or your work surface with parchment paper or silpat – enough area to drop all of your pralines. Have an extra spoon available in case you need to scrape the pralines off your main spoon. Use a 4-quart saucepan for this recipe to avoid having the caramel boil over during the cooking process.

Place all of the ingredients in a medium to large saucepan set over high heat. The saucepan should be fitted with a candy thermometer. Stir to combine the ingredients and continue to stir occasionally. Bring the contents to a boil. At this point, start to stir constantly. Let the caramel boil for 3 minutes until it reaches a temperature of 238°-240°F. [At my altitude, the target temperature is 221°-223°F. The general formula is to reduce the target temperature by 1°F for every 500 feet above sea level.] Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir vigorously. The caramel will transform from translucent to cloudy and will thicken. When the liquid becomes grainy in texture, it is time to start dropping pralines. Working quickly (you don’t want it to solidify before you’re done dropping pralines), drop by the spoonful onto the parchment or silpat about an inch apart. Let the pralines cool for 10 minutes. Makes about 5 cups. Keep in an air-tight container for several days.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

chocolate caramels vanilla bean caramels bourbon caramel popcorn bourbon bacon cacao nib brittle

9 nibbles at “sweetness”

  1. Katrina says:

    Looks like you nailed it!! These look PERFECT!

  2. Joyce says:

    Oh, wonderful Williamsburg! Being from Maryland we went every year as often as we could.Left the kids at home and it was “our” time! We never missed Christmas though at the Williamsburg Inn. And then we visited all the outlets and took home many Christmas goodies. Spring is fantastic and so is Fall. Our very favorite place. I so miss it since we now live in Western NY and it is not as easy for us to get there. Our kids loved Busch Gardens and never missed it in the HOT summer…… Great memories and I know you will send us some fantastic pictures!

  3. Leeann says:

    Can’t wait to make these! The only time I have had pralines was when my friend, who is from Alabama, and I visited Savannah. The smell coming from the candy shop near the river will be forever etched in my memory, along with that almost-too-sweet taste!

  4. Lynn says:

    Where do you get your country ham, when you visit VA? What company/brand do you buy?

  5. farmerpam says:

    Your parents owned an ice cream shop! Well, that’s a little known URB fact, and how cool was that as a kid?! ;)

  6. Salena says:

    I made these tonight and they’re fantastic! Your tips were great, as always (having the silpats ready to go and setting aside two spoons).

  7. jenyu says:

    Katrina – thank you! :) xo

    Joyce – I never used to consider Williamsburg a destination since I grew up there. After leaving home for college, I have met and heard from so many people who love to vacation in the old Burg. Kinda nice to know. And yes to Busch Gardens – SO much fun!

    Leeann – so awesome. I hope they are as great as you remember!

    Lynn – Oh, I used to get it from the Williamsburg Peanut Shop (they used to sell it in small 1 lb. pieces), but now I think there is a Smithfield Ham Store where you can get it in a variety of sizes/packages.

    farmerpam – I think it explains why my stomach hurt so much as a kid (I am lactose intolerant, but didn’t figure that out until college) :)

    Salena – YAY!! <3

  8. Jessica says:

    Can these be made with coconut cream/milk or soy creamer instead of the heavy cream? I have to work around dairy allergies in my family.

  9. jenyu says:

    Jessica – good news! I just did a quick search and there are lots of recipes for dairy free pralines using coconut milk. Actually, it’s more like the coconut cream (the thick or solid part of the coconut milk in the can). I haven’t tried it myself, but I think you’ll have lots of luck if you check out some recipes for vegan pralines online. Not sure if a 1:1 substitution for the cream is right though, so perhaps follow a recipe similar to this one that uses coconut milk? Good luck!

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