12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies…Pralines

Pralines (prah-leens) have always been my absolute favorite candy, with brown sugar fudge coming in a close second and peanut butter fudge rounding out my top three.  My mom never made them at home, but anytime there was a bake sale – school fairs, festivals, etc. – there would be pralines available, and I would always buy some.  At some point, I was a teenager, I think, I tried to make them myself.  Armed with a recipe, but no candy thermometer, I set about the process, dropping bits of the molten hot mixture into a cup of cold water, looking for the elusive soft ball stage.  Pecans are not inexpensive nuts, so the fact that I ended up with a pan of pecans coated wtih sugary brown goo that never set into the acceptable praline shape, I gave up.  Years passed, and I married my husband, who also ranks pralines high on his favorite candy list, and I decided to try again.  This time, along with a recipe from the back of the pecan package, I also had a candy thermometer.  I acheived a modicum of success, as the first 2 dozen I scooped were perfect, but the last 2 dozen were a bit grainy, as the mixture had continued to cook while in the pot.  I realized that I probably should have not used the enameled cast iron pot, as it retains heat.  So, like many of other south Louisiana cooks, I went out and bought a 6 quart heavy aluminum saucepan which is now the designated “praline pot” and only use it to make pralines.  I make pralines in small quantities as you must work quickly, and a huge pot of molten sugar is a wee bit scary.
Pralines are a traditional part of both Cajun and Creole family Christmas cookie trays, so add a little Cajun & Creole to your Christmas this year!
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecans, toasted and cooled (I leave mine whole, but you can chop them if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Toast pecans at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes; remove from oven and allow to cool.
Place a few sheets of newspaper on your counter and cover with parchment or wax paper; this is where you will spoon out the pralines.
Combine sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, salt, and pecans in a deep saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Be sure to attach candy thermometer to pot. 
Cook to soft-ball stage, 235-240 degrees.
Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.
Immediately begin spooning candy onto prepared parchment paper – I use a large soup spoon.
Allow candy to set completely before placing onto a plate.
Store in a airtight container.

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19 thoughts on “12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies…Pralines

  1. These are so insanely delicious Louanne! I love that you have a special pot just for pralines! I am inspired now to make them for my Christmas cookie tray.

  2. I would love to make these but I'm pretty sure I would just screw them up. I love them though. The best one I ever had was at Commander's Palace Restaurant when they were in Vegas. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, they were that good. I've bookmarked this recipe, I just might try them one of these days. Thanks for sharing Louanne!

  3. Thanks for all the information you provide regarding your local customs. These pralines look perfect. With all these cookies I have started dreaming about Christmas.

  4. Toasting the pecans gives them so much more flavor. I have not ever had pralines(that I can recall)except pralines and cream ice cream:) These look great!

  5. Awwww! Now this sounds like Christmas to me… my mom (originally from Louisiana) makes these every year and now I make them for my family keeping the Cajun tradition alive…love it, thanks for sharing!

  6. i am a huge fan of pralines. i make them too…but only for special occasions because they are just so darn pesky. i have had the same thing happen where they get a bit grainy in the end…and i just spread them in a pan and break them up into pieces and use them as topping for ice cream. oh so delicious!
    i am really enjoying your christmas cookie meme!

  7. Louanne, my husband loves you and he doesn't know it. This is so his cookie. I am wondering if I have time to make it, this afternoon.

    Love having a happy hubby.

  8. I applaud you for working with molten sugar. The idea of that still intimidates me a little. But, you've obviously mastered the skill because these pralines look delicious.

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