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Tricks for Practically Perfect Pralines


Few confections are so readily identified with the South as pralines–irresistible nuggets made of caramel and pecans. Different Southern cooks swear by a variety of recipes with or without brown sugar or baking soda; with evaporated milk, buttermilk, or half-and-half; and dropped large or small. We tasted them all before determining our favorite recipe, a combination of white and brown sugars and evaporated milk.

Pralines aren't difficult to make, but they can be tricky. The requirements are plenty of STIRRING, PATIENCE, and ATTENTION. The two biggest questions usually come up during preparation: 

1. When to remove the candy mixture from the heat.

2. When to stop beating and start spooning. (You're allowed to enlist an extra set of hands at this stage.)

If the mixture gets too hot, the candy will be dry and crumbly. If it isn't cooked long enough, the mixture will be runny and sticky. It's all about balance! That's when the careful attention comes into play.

One trick we learned after making several batches in our Test Kitchen is to remove it from the heat at about 232°. The mixture will continue to climb to the required temperature (236°). A candy thermometer gives the best temperature reading and takes out most of the guesswork. We like to use two thermometers for accuracy.

Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon just until it begins to thicken. You'll feel the mixture become heavier, and its color will become lighter. Often the last few pralines that you spoon will be thicker and less perfectly shaped that the first, but they'll still be just as good. The candy tastes the best if eaten within a day or two; pralines become sugary and gritty with age. Be sure to store them in an airtight container (a like a decorative metal tin).

New Orleans Famous Praline Company | 1013-A Harimaw Court West | Metairie, LA 70001 | 800-876-1339 E-mail Us

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