Indulging in the sweet and nutty goodness of pecan candy is a quintessential experience, and when it’s homemade, it becomes an irresistible delight. As the holiday season approaches, what better time to explore the art of crafting this delectable pecan praline recipe? Not only does it make for a mouthwatering sweet treat to savor at home, but it’s also the perfect homemade candy to share with loved ones.
Pecan pralines are a timeless classic that can be enjoyed anytime, making them an excellent choice as a delicious gift or simply to satisfy your own cravings. In this post, we’ll guide you through the steps to create this irresistible pecan candy, ensuring that every bite is a taste of pure homemade delight.
What Are Pecan Pralines?
Pecan pralines are a Southern confectionary delight made by caramelizing sugars together and adding pecans. Once the candy has cooked and cooled, it becomes a treat that is reminiscent of caramel fudge.
Pecan Pralines should not be confused with Praline Pecans. The latter are pecans that have been individually coated in a sweet mixture and are enjoyed as candied nuts. Pecan Pralines are candy with nuts.
History of Praline Pecans
While pralines are a southern favorite, their history stems from the Old World back to the 1600s in France. Originally, chef Clement Lassagne created the candy using almonds and called it a praslin in honor of French diplomat César Duc de Choiseul, Comte du Plessis-Praslin.
As often happens with languages, the original term praslin morphed into today’s praline.
Pralines very may have made it to the United States via French Ursuline nuns. The nuns taught young girls domesticated arts, such as cooking, of which candy making would be included.
In New Orleans, almond trees don’t grow well, unlike the native pecan. It was the culinary genius of African-American women that led to the use of pecans in the confections which are considered one of the earliest street foods in America.
Let’s look at how this pecan pralines recipe is made, shall we?
For this classic Southern candy, you need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
- 1⁄2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon orange extract, optional
- 2 cups chopped pecans
How To Make Pecan Pralines
First things first. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and set aside. This will come in handy once the candy has cooked and is ready to be scooped and cooled. The parchment paper will prevent the pralines from sticking and make for easy cleanup later. Now, let’s dive into the delightful process of crafting your homemade pecan pralines.
Next, combine sugar, light brown sugar, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda, and salt in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Cook slowly over medium heat until the mixture reaches 235 °F on a candy thermometer. (235–240 degrees Fahrenheit is the “soft-ball stage” of candy making.)
Stir the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon while it cooks. The mixture will begin to rise as the temperature increases.
Keep stirring making sure to stir the edges so that the sauce doesn’t burn.
Remove the pan from the heat once it reaches 235 degrees and add the butter, vanilla, orange extract if using, and pecans.
Stir continuously for ten minutes until the mixture becomes thick. As the sauce cools, it will turn into a thick, silky caramel.
Drop by spoonfuls of praline mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Although it will be tempting to pick one up and eat it right away, be sure to allow it to cool completely. The pralines will be extremely hot and can burn you. Give them at least 30 minutes before you check them.
It could take up to 2 hours for them to harden. (If it is humid outside, it might seem like they will never firm up. But don’t worry – you’ve got this!)
Notes About Making Pecan Praline Candy
Not reaching the 235-degree mark will cause this recipe to fail. In order to effectively make the caramel sauce, the sugar mixture needs to reach an optimal temperature.
Once the pot is removed from the heat and you are stirring for ten minutes, the air that is incorporated into the caramel sauce will cool the mixture and make it thicker.
You will probably not notice a change for the first five minutes but the reaction is happening. Keep stirring gently and a thick and silky caramel will develop.
Patience, grasshopper. Patience.
Praline candy can be stored for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container if it lasts that long. It can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
As time goes by, the sugar in the pralines begins to re-crystallize and may start to appear grainy. While you could possibly eat them in that state, it won’t be the same.
Pot Cleaning Tip
After crafting your delicious pecan pralines, you may find that the pan used for cooking has a stubborn layer of sugar. To make cleanup a breeze, fill the pan with hot water and allow it to soak. The heat will gradually dissolve the hardened sugar, making it easier to clean later.