Okay, that’s it. We have deemed it impossible to keep coming up with clever (or not-so-clever) introductions about days devoted to dessert. You get it: There are a lot. And we’re going to celebrate them all. So let’s just skip the jokes and get right to the point: On June 24, we celebrate pralines because it’s National Pralines Day. There. Short and sweet. Sweet like pralines, that is.[photo via food.com]
So, what’s a praline? A praline, you see, is made up of nuts and sugar syrup, but there are a lot of variations. The French, for example, make their pralines with almonds and caramelized sugar. Actually, the praline originated in France, so they can pretty much do whatever they want with the treat and call it normal. But today, in honor of, well, America, we’ll give you the recipe for the American pecan praline, which contains milk or cream and often has a fudge-like texture. America knows what’s up.
And, in the 19th century, Americans decided to substitute the traditional almonds with pecans because — and this was news to us — pecan trees are abundant in America. Honestly, did you know that we have a lot of pecan trees? Is that common knowledge? Are we just out of the loop? Well, anyway, pecans are delicious so it doesn’t really matter to us why they’re used. But, if you’re not a pecan fan, you can use any nut of your choosing. Heck, you don’t even have to use nuts. You can use sesame seeds, for all we care. Whatever floats your boat. But here’s a recipe for the pecan kind.
- 1 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar, plus
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for 3 minutes.
- Stir and bake for 3 more minutes (Watch them closely so they don’t get over toasted).
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Fit a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a candy thermometer.
- Over high heat, cook the cream, butter and brown sugar to 240 degrees (soft ball).
- If necessary, stir once to help dissolve the sugar.
- Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 seconds.
- Carefully stir in the vanilla, bourbon, and toasted pecans. (It might spit and sputter)
- Stir until the mixture looks creamy and slightly thickened.
- Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
- Cool for 20 minutes.
This recipe yields 24 servings, enough for an office party or a small get-together with friends. It only takes an hour to make these treats with 20 minutes for cooling following cook time. Friends and family are sure to love these pralines with an American Southern-style twist.