Thursday, November 25, 2010

Is it a Lost Art?

I think I've perfected the "art" of making pralines.  Now in case you think I'm being a little too cocky, let me explain.  There are many versions of Pecan Pralines out there.  Sugary, creamy, made with chopped pecans or made with pecan halves....I believe I make the "creole" version....yep, you guessed it....the way my momma made them.  No microwave pralines for this Louisiana gal!  It's a blend of certain ingredients....cooked to a certain stage....beat to perfection and turned out at just the right instructions...just trial and error.  I used to watch my mother, Elta Miller, make these mouth watering perfections from a child growing up in Destrehan, LA.  I even had the "chore" as a kid of being the stirrer of the mixture of milk, sugar, syrup, it bubbled it's way to perfection.  I hated doing that in those days....more years ago than I wish to admit!  My inheritance among other things, were the vast assortment of hand written recipes from Mother's kitchen.  That was the treasure I wanted the most...even though at the time I didn't cook or enjoy cooking the way I do now.  I guess I just knew that was where my desires develop the art of cooking as Mother had done.  She was not a chef....but was known for her wonderful meals and treats she often baked.
I found that praline recipe many years ago and only tried my hand at making the scrumptious treat once a year at the Thanksgiving/Christmas Holidays.  I failed many times.  Spooned  them out to "turn"...only to end up with taffy and not the smooth, melt -in -your mouth candy Mother was known for.  In an earlier blog I shared how I came about realizing that my recipe was flawed.  That was only about 7 or 8 years for about 20 years I've failed more times than succeeded with this candy.  But, now, I can whip it together and put out a praline...none like you will ever find in a local store or souvenir shop.

As I whipped up a "batch of pralines" (a term my mom used) last night before Thanksgiving Day.....I took some pictures of the progress which I will post in this blog along with the recipe.  The ingredients are's the technique that has to be ingredient list came with only one instruction.  I will try to give the reader of this blog a few more hints as I have learned how to perfect this art of making pralines.

1/3 cup light Karo corn syrup
2 cups white sugar
6 oz. evaporated milk (l/2 can)
pinch of salt
2 cups pecan halves (toasted at 200 degrees for 15 min.)
1/4 stick butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Put the first 4  ingredients in 3 quart. pot over med heat and stir till starting to bubble
Add pecans and continue stirring adjusting the temp. as to not stick....letting it boil gently
Let it cook to firm soft ball stage    (deep caramel color)
Take off fire and put on heat pad to "beat"...adding the butter and vanilla
You will beat till just before candy begins to "turn" then drop by teaspoon on to waxed paper

    (this is the tricky much to beat...if it hardens too much...add a (very) little more evaporated milk and return to stove to melt....then go back to dropping by spoonfuls)

cooking to reach the "perfect" stage

                                                       Just right "caramel" color  ready to 'beat"
"beating" to the turn out stage

                                                dropping by spoonfuls...not completed "turned"

If you decide to try your hand at this candy making family recipe....let me know how yours comes out.  I'd love to hear! 

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