Monday, December 12, 2011

A Delicious Treat for the Holidays

A great seasonal recipe is one for Pralines! Pralines is a dish originated in France at the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte by the cook of the 17th-century sugar industrialist Marshal du Plessis-Praslin. Early pralines were whole almonds individually coated in caramelized sugar, as opposed to dark nougat, where a sheet of caramelized sugar covers many nuts. French settlers brought this recipe to Louisiana, where both sugar cane and pecan trees were plentiful. During the 19th century, New Orleans chefs substituted pecans for almonds, added cream to thicken the confection, and thus created what became known throughout the American South as the praline. Here is a delicious recipe sure to make the people of France proud!

American Praline
(Serves about 2 dozen)

•    1 1/4 cup organic sugar
•    3/4 cup brown sugar
•    2 cups pecan halves
•    3/4 cup light cream
•    2 Tbsp unsalted butter
•    Pinch of salt
•    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•    1 teaspoon brandy or vanilla (optional)

1.    Preheat oven to 300 F. Place pecan halves on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 10 minutes, turning once. Let cool.
2.    Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Mix together organic and brown sugar and baking soda in a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in light cream and place over medium to medium-high heat. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture reaches 235°F on a candy thermometer (about 25 minutes). Slight foaming and occasional bubbling in the mixture are normal at this stage.
3.     As soon as the temperature reaches 235 F, add the butter and stir until the butter is fully melted and the mixture is well combined (about 1 minute).
4.     Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the brandy and pecans until well coated. Continue stirring to cool slightly (about 1-2 minutes). Quickly drop by spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Let cool completely.
5.    Store in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days.

The whole family can snack on this delicious and easy to make treat!

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