Some of my fondest memories growing up were the smells coming from my grandmother’s kitchen. We were always so excited after Halloween because we knew that she was going to be baking in her kitchen from Thanksgiving until New Years. I have been replicating some of those very recipes for years now because just one whiff transports me back in time in just a matter of seconds.
Pralines are a staple in the south. The way they crumble and melt in your mouth ensures them to be a unique addition to any dessert spread.
There are many different variations and over the years I have perfected my very own.
Pralines can also be pretty tricky. There is a certain technique to ensure these treats are perfect. Not allowing the mixture to cool long enough makes them sticky and not the consistency that you are looking for..
Making sure you have all the necessary utensils are very important.
A few of them are:
My wooden spoon I have had for years and it is key to scraping the bottoms of pots so you do not damage the surfaces. When using your wooden spoon make sure you designate either sweet or savory dishes for its lifespan because certain foods seep into the wood.
2 quart sauce pan-
It is important that it is non stick, light weight and
easy to handle.
When making anything like pralines, fudge, caramel, etc. a candy thermometer is critical. It gives you a fail proof reading, letting you know when exactly your treats are ready for the next step.
A silpat is a rubber mat that is used instead of parchment or wax paper. They are reusable and much more efficient and are much cheaper over time than the others.
My silpat has come in handy for years!
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
(helps prevent crystallization of mixture)
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (high quality)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 – 2 cups of chopped pecans
(depending on how much you like them)
Butter the sides of sauce pan.
Place sugars, salt, corn syrup, sour cream and
butter into pan.
Over medium heat stir consistently with wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil.
Add your candy thermometer to the side of your pan and continue to cook, until your reach exactly 240 degrees, stirring occasionally.
Cooling the mixture:
You can either do “cold water test” which is where you take some of the mixture onto a spoon and dip it into cold water, it should flatten down when you press it.
Or you can let the mixture cool for about 5-6 minutes.
Once cooled add vanilla and nuts.
Beat for 2 minutes with your wooden spoon until
mixture loses its glossy shine.
When the mixture is no longer shiny -VERY QUICKLY- drop spoonfuls down on your silpat. This is a very fast process and the quicker you get the mixture out of the pot and onto your mat, the better your pralines will look.
It takes just a few minutes for them to cool.
The smell of your kitchen right now is the stuff traditions are made from!
Don’t worry If your pralines did not come out pretty.
Its ok! It takes many times to perfect your technique.
Practice makes perfect!
If they came out beautiful, congratulations!
Either way, Im sure they will disappear in a matter or hours!
Yields: around 18
I remember as a little boy the happiness I felt for the first pie or cookie she took out of the oven. The pure anticipation was almost too much to handle!
All of those tradtions I think are so important to pass down to my children. I want to see their excitement when they come home from school and smell pralines as they walk up the drive way. I want to hear their joy when I ask them to help me roll out the cookie dough to make Christmas stars. To me, Traditions are an integral part of growing up and I feel it is my responsibility to keep the magic alive, and hopefully these recipes will help allow you and your family to create your own Christmas traditions in the kitchen.
May you and your family have a beautiful and Happy Holiday season!