Okay, here goes. Chefchicklet is right about pralines being subjective. In my family we did not like sugary/grainy pralines, but they will get that way if you store them. Mom's pralines were rationed out and never got a chance to crystallize. We made fun of the ones you buy in the French Quarter (though you can find good ones now if you know where to go). Hope this is not too detailed, but molten sugar is so dangerous, and you can go so wrong on this recipe if you don't know the details.
Try to make on a day when the barometer's not going up or down (like most candy). A thermometer helps. This is easy once you know how, but tough to describe. If you don't cook to the right temp or if you don't beat it enough it won't get hard. If that happens, get out the ice cream and have it as a topping - oh, cher, the best ice cream topping ever. Sometimes I do it on purpose to give that as gifts in pretty jars. 2-1/2 c sugar
1 cup whole milk, room temp
1 Tbsp white corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla\
2-1/2 cups pecans (at least)
Read entire recipe first. In heavy large saucepan, caramelize 1/4 c of the sugar until golden brown. Molten sugar - so no kids in the kitchen. Have the milk ready. Once golden color reached, turn heat to low and immediately pour in all of the milk, but step back - be careful - it will splatter and bubble up into hard pieces of carmelized sugar. Lower heat a bit and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining sugar, salt and the syrup. Stir constantly until the candy begins to boil. Do *Not* stir after boiling has begun. Cook over medium-low heat until soft ball stage is reached - 235-240 degrees. Watch and lower heat a bit more if candy threatens to overflow (you need that large pot). Remove from heat and drop in butter but do not stir it in. Cool (you can use a water bath in the sink if you want) until you can place your hand on the bottom of the pan - about 110 degrees - and then add vanilla. Meanwhile, spread waxed paper on 2-3 sheet pans or just put silpats on a countertop. Have spoons handy to drop the candy. Beat candy - not stir, beat - with a clean spoon until candy begins to thicken. Will take a while. Get a friend to help. (Yes, you can use a hand mixer, but it's harder to tell when the candy's ready to drop.) Add pecans when candy has started to thicken. It will be *very* hard to beat once the pecans are in. Watch carefully for candy to lose its gloss - it can get hard in the pot. As soon as the gloss starts to fade, start dropping it by one or two tablespoons depending on the size you want. Work fast. You always end with a little candy left in the pot without pecans, so keep a few pecans to add at the end. Or just call in the kids and give them the pan.
Edited to add: Obviously, raygunclan, you are a candymaker and may want to use a hand mixer. If you do, you still have to switch to a spoon to beat the candy after the pecans are added, as you don't want to break them up.
Praline recipes from the Google newspaper archive:
Texas Chewy Pralines & New Orleans Pralines recipes - The Rock Hill Herald - Mar 25, 1987
above article continued with Mexican Pralines - The Rock Hill Herald - Mar 25, 1987
Texas Pralines recipes - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Mar 31, 1982
Southern Pralines recipe - Daily Union - May 14, 2003
Southern Pralines recipe - The Post and Courier - Oct 3, 1999
Southern Pralines recipe - The Pittsburgh Press - Nov 29, 1989
Southern Pralines recipe - Herald-Journal - Dec 18, 1991
Southern Oatmeal Pralines recipe - Gadsden Times - Jun 28, 1995
Southern Pralines recipe - Times Daily - Dec 11, 1991
New Orleans Pralines recipe - The Palm Beach Post - Sep 7, 1967
Pralines recipe - The Vancouver Sun - Dec 10, 1937
Bourbon Street Pecan Praline recipe - Palm Beach Daily News - Mar 22, 1987
I just made them in Jan and used John Folse's recipe....he is the leading authority on cajun creole cuisine. The key is with these to move QUICKLY in getting them on the pan. They are unbelievably good. Quick and easy to make. You need a candy thermometer.
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Line several baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly butter the foil, or line with parchment paper. (I used Silplats). Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches soft-ball stage and registers 240F on candy thermometer.
Remove from the heat and, working quickly, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes creamy and cloudy, slightly thickens, and the pecans remain in suspension.
Quickly drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared sheets. Let sit for about 1 hour, until they are set.
OMG..........I had forgotten about these. I made these shortly after I met "Lady De Val" and was on a search for the perfect praline. They are incredible.
The buttermilk I think is what does the trick, due maybe to the acid?
Do make these Texaspeppers, they won't disappoint.
My husband isn't a fan of pecans.
I like them raw in halves like my grammie always had in her fridge for baking with.
I just snacked on them.
Have used all nuts, individual and combined for pralines, it's really what kind of nut you like or maybe no nuts at all is fine too.
met a customer lady one day at work a few years ago.
she owned a catering business in South Carolina.
said her specialty was pralines and that no one made them like she did.
I questioned her about why they were so good and we exchanged addresses.
I made her my candy favorites and sent it to her, she did the same.
her pralines were perfectly heavenly.
she wouldn't tell me the secret to one of the flavors and I guessed as much as I could come up with, all wrong she told me except for the butter extract.
anyway, her email and is no longer valid and her business is also gone.
what a shame as she was adorable.
but this is one I found online, made for my mom as a special treat and they are really good.
but buyer beware, they don't come easily. there's a lot of passionate stirring at one point and also required candy thermometer.
I also have a NOLA cookbook, I'm looking for it now so I can get that praline recipe for you too. OK, here it is.
"Authentic New Orleans cooking"
Grandma Betty's Pralines
1 cup each brown sugar and white sugar
3 T butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
*1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 1/2 t vanilla
1. Butter large piece of wax paper, set aside.
2. Put the sugar[s] and cream in heavy skillet. Cook until the sugar dissolves
gradually bring to a boil.
3. Add butter, stir, add nuts, stir, continue to cook to 235* on a candy thermometer, remove from heat.
4. Add vanilla, stir. Beat vigorously with wooden spoon until the mixture starts to thicken and is still glossy and no longer grainy. Don't over beat it or it won't be easy enough to handle.
When it pulls away from the pan, drop by big spoonfuls onto buttered wax paper. Let cool.
15 minutes later, ready to eat.
*[nuts of any kind are optional] They are delicious without the addition of any nuts.
I've used pecans or cashews or almonds or peanuts or macadamia nuts.
You can also combine any or all nuts in one batch.
With the almond version I added coconut and melted chocolate on top.
With the macadamia nuts, I mixed in 1 T dried pineapple which I'd broken up in the spice blender.
When I was in New Orleans, I had to taste the pralines. I only tasted a few but is a praline like most things, subjective? I have several recipes, never tried any of them but I notice that some use canned milk, some milk, and some cream. What's preferred, and what's a good praline taste like?