The Creole praline (pronounced in New Orleans, praw-LEEN) was originally created in
France by a cook at Chateau of Vaux-le Vicomte, home of Marshal du Plessis-Praslin, a sugar industrialist. The story details the cook watching children in the kitchen, sneaking treats of almonds and caramelized sugar. He took that combination to the stove and developed the original praslin, named for the owner. When the recipe for this confection was taken to
New Orleans, they replaced the almonds with the more native pecan, added cream and named it praline.
Pralines are readily available in
New Orleans and from long standing shops. Leah’s, a shop that has been in business since 1933 and located on St. Louis St., has both original and ‘creamy’ pralines, along with many other candies and chocolates. Another company, Tee-Eva’s on Magazine St, also has their time honored recipes and updated versions, like the coconut praline. Both shops can be found online.
The delicate praline is a light, caramel-ly disc, laden with pecans, sugar, butter and cream. There is a basic recipe followed by most candy makers, whether passed down through the generations or created for a new business in the French Quarter. The praline candy can be eaten like a cookie, crumbled on top of a cream cheese frosted cake, or added to a maple syrup and poured over ice cream. The recipe here is a classic one, easy to make. Bon appétit!
1C white sugar
1C packed brown sugar
¾ c. half and half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 C toasted pecans
Butter sides of heavy 2 qt pot. Combine both sugars, half and half, and salt in pot. Cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. Raise heat to medium, stirring, until mixture boils. Reduce heat and cook until soft ball stage on candy thermometer, 234F. Remove from heat.
Add butter and vanilla to pot, but do not stir. Let cool for 5 minutes, and add pecans. Lay out buttered baking sheets or waxed paper. Beat candy with wooden spoon until candy is no longer shiny and becomes thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Quickly spoon onto sheet or wax paper. If mixture becomes too think, add ½ teaspoon hot water at a time, and stir.