Day 23, Pralines

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 23

You didn’t think I’d let Christmas go by without pralines, did you? I’m not capable of such cruelty.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 23

I always tweak the original recipe ever so slightly. This year, I toasted the pecans before adding them to the sugar mixture. That simple step yielded tons of pecan flavor and has earned it a permanent spot in the praline repertoire.

recipe after the jump

Pralines courtesy of my dad

After making several batches of these in one weekend, I have a few tips to ensure success. First, grease the waxed paper well with a neutral flavored oil; these are sticky suckers that need the lubrication. Second, don’t bother with the candy thermometer until about 5 minutes after you’ve added the pecans; it really just gets in the way and the mixture won’t come up to temperature before that. Third, after you’ve added the vanilla extract, beat the praline batter vigorously until it really begins to thicken and your arm is getting tired. If you spoon them out too soon, they’ll spread too much, which leads to thin pralines that take up far too much counter space. But it’s a fine line; I waited a little too long this year and they ended up quite thick. But you’ll find your way. Mistakes are inevitable/edible.

2 cups white sugar
1 stick butter
16 large marshmallows
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 cups pecan halves, well toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (homemade, if you have it)
finishing salt

Cook sugar, butter, marshmallows, and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are melted, then add pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage, 235-240 degrees F. (I always go to 240 degrees. The end result is much better at the higher end of the range.) Remove from burner. Add vanilla extract and beat until mixture thickens. Drop by tablespoon or two onto greased waxed paper. While still hot, sprinkle with finishing salt.

Yield: 48 small pralines or 15 large.


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