Pecan Pralines [+ video]December 16, 2016 By Cathy — 11 Comments
This indulgent candy is perfect for holiday gifting. Creamy and sweet, with a nutty crunch, who wouldn’t be thrilled to find a box of pecan pralines under the tree?
I secretly want to be crafty. When my boys were toddlers, I had high hopes of being that mom that set up the arts and crafts station so I could share countless hours twisting pipe cleaners and glueing popsicle sticks with them. Oh, can’t you just imagine the macaroni pictures and homemade necklaces we would create?! Well, keep imagining because that whole arts and crafts thing never panned out. Turns out I prefer my popsicle sticks in popsicles and let’s just say I have deep, deep respect for preschool teachers.
But we pressed on and I moved the boys into the only space where my creativity flows…the kitchen. Our days were spent sharing counter space. I would roll pastry dough while they rolled play-doh. We were together doing our thing and it was win/win until my oldest channeled his inner dictator by lining up his favorite tubs of play-doh, pointing and demanding that I “make a ball”. Now what kid has a rainbow of play-doh in front of him and doesn’t dig right in? Well, miniature Mussolini that’s who.
He would stand there with a furrowed brow and stick out one of those pudgy fingers and sternly demand “Make a ball!” And like a lemming, I would wipe my floured hands on a towel and quickly get to executing those balls.
“Make a yellow ball!”
“Make a big, green ball”
And then, “Noooo! A small red ball!”
Well, it’s clear why many dictatorships fail. I was beaten down and he was never satisfied. Clearly I fell short in the ball-making department and let me tell you, he was nothing to write home about as a boss. We would both leave the kitchen in a huff and rely heavily on the Wiggles to get the good vibes flowing again.
Can’t say I’m unhappy that those days are behind me. But those little chubby fingers dragging the stool to the counter? I would kill for another glimpse of those.
Thankfully Jack grew out of his tyrannical ways and I grew a slightly thicker skin. Now we occasionally collaborate in the kitchen (though if I’m being honest, I have a little Mussolini in me too). He can now make a mean omelette and flip a pancake like a pro. And we’re even talking about making gingerbread houses together. Now this may be the norm in your house, but in mine, it’s progress.
So maybe I am a bit more crafty than I think. I can’t be trusted with a stick of glue and a bag of glitter, but I can decorate one hell of a Christmas cookie . And I do love putting together little bags of sweets for holiday gifting…that’s crafty, right?
This year I’m all about gifting pralines. We’re heading upstate this weekend to visit my parents and it just so happens that my mom’s favorite cookie/candy is a pecan praline. So Jack and I are going to roll up our sleeves and make a batch to bring to Grandma. They are brown-sugary sweet, creamy, nutty and seriously melt-in-your-mouthy. They take a fair amount of whisking so it’s the perfect recipe for a team.
Yes, that means we need to work together as opposed to ordering the other around. And I can get my craft on by layering the pralines into boxes or bags tied neatly with a pretty bow. Or if we really want to knock grandma’s socks off, maybe a macaroni pipe cleaner bow? Look out Martha, I’m coming for you!
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans (toasting is optional)
- *special équipement: candy thermometer
- Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper, set aside.
- Combine sugars, butter, salt and heavy cream in a medium heavy bottom saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and then attach a candy thermometer to the side of the sauce pan.
- Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 238 degrees.
- Remove from the heat and whisk until mixture loses its sheen and becomes creamy in texture, about 10 mins by hand.
- Stir in the vanilla and pecans. Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto the lined sheet pans and allow to spread.
- Cool to room temperature and store on wax paper in an airtight container.