Pralines, believe it or not, originated in France – but not in the form we know them today. They were finely ground nuts, usually coated with chocolate (!) or used as part of cakes and other pastries.
Over the years, the praline powder (or pralin) was brought to America. It found its home in the South, primarily in the New Orleans area. There, clever cooks combined (usually) cane sugar, butter, milk or buttermilk into a caramel sauce and set spoonfuls of it to set up on waxed paper. Adding locally grown pecans to this sauce gave them the wonderful candy we delight in today.
If you make this, you can make a kind of Praline Brittle by spreading the syrup over a sheet of waxed paper in a rimmed baking sheet, and heavily sprinkling whole or half pecans over it, and let it set up. When completely set (hard), just break it up. This is the easiest recipe because it’s made in the microwave!
Be sure to do this on a dry day – or it will get and stay sticky!. Enjoy with a cold glass of iced tea or iced coffee and keep a copy of the recipe in your Holiday Gift file … they make great gifts that everyone will love! Me included!
Pecan Pralines – From the Microwave
- 1 pound light brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 cups chopped and toasted pecans
Technically, this recipe of pralines is going to be depending on nuts and sweet syrup. The brown sugar, whipped cream and light corn syrup are going to make our base, to which we will add our nuts later on. In order to make the base, you will need to take a microwave safe bowl and add the brown sugar, the whipped cream and light corn syrup to it.
Mix it all together in the bowl to form a mixture before putting the bowl into the microwave and running it on high for about 13 minutes. During this time, the ingredients will melt and mix. However, you need to take care that the mixture does not start to burn, since different microwaves have different maximum heat levels. So check it a few times to make sure everything is melting. (This was based on a 1000 watt oven.)
Once the mixture has melted, you need to take it out while it’s hot and add butter to it. The reason why butter was not added to the mixture you prepared earlier is that butter burns very easily in a microwave. Now since the mixture is already hot, the butter will melt easily.
Stir the mixture as you add butter to mix it all well. You can use unsalted butter if you don’t like the taste of salt in your pralines, but a little salt will only enhance its taste. You need to stir the mixture until it becomes creamy and smooth.
Now you need to add the chopped pecans and stir them into the mixture. Don’t let the pecans just sit on the top; make sure they are distributed throughout the depth of the mixture.
Finally, use a tablespoon to take out round even chunks of the mixture and place them out on a tray with waxed paper to cool. Let them cool to room temperature or until they are no longer ‘hot’ before serving.