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Pralines

Lanna Apisukh for TODAY
Yields:
~12 pralines
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Chef notes

No matter how you pronounce pecans, these praline confections are a Southern classic with a historic backstory. They date back to New Orleans before the Civil War, when enslaved and free Black women  would sell these candies to generate income. Oftentimes, they would use this income to purchase their freedom and that of their relatives. That’s a lot of rich history packed into one small candy

Pecan pralines are made with just five ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your pantry. They have a smooth, sandy and slightly chewy texture, with chunks of toasted pecans studded throughout. Their flavor is reminiscent of butterscotch, thanks to the combination of granulated and brown sugars. The hardest part of making perfect pralines is ensuring that the sugar syrup reaches the exact right temperature, so a clip-on candy thermometer is a must-have tool for this recipe. We take this candy mixture to a temperature of 236 F, which is known as the soft-ball stage. At a lower temperature, the candy will not firm up enough. If the sugar goes beyond the soft-ball stage, the candy will be too firm and grainy. 

Once your sugar mixture reaches the right temperature, turn off the heat. You want the candy to cool down for a few minutes in the pot before proceeding. Once the mixture is nice and glossy, you can drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a marble surface or a pan lined with aluminum foil. Once they cool, these chewy candies are ready to be packaged up for holiday gifting.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 cup pecan halves
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Preparation

1.

Grease a slab of confectioner's marble or aluminum foil-lined sheet pans with nonstick cooking spray.

2.

In a heavy saucepan, bring both types of sugar, the cream and butter to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

3.

When the temperature reaches 228 F on a candy thermometer, add the pecans and stir to combine. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the temperature is just shy of 236 F.

4.

Remove from the heat and gently stir the mixture until it thickens slightly, for 3 to 5 minutes. The mixture should be glossy.

5.

Using a soup spoon, drop heaping scoops (about 2 tablespoons) of the pralines onto the prepared marble; cool completely.