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Pecan Pralines

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29 replies to this topic

#1 ellencho

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 08:41 AM

Hello all - can anybody school me on pralines?

I live nowhere near the south (I'm from NY) and have never been there with the exception of Florida when I was 9 so I have nothing to reference this on but, what is the proper texture for a praline?

I had never seen them before except on tv so I attempted to make my own, and they look like all the pralines that I've seen but I was a bit surprised at the texture. It was almost like vanilla fudge with nuts in it. Are they supposed to be a little bit gritty/lightly sandy? Is that how it's supposed to be?

I used Shirley O Corriher's recipe that she has in her book, Cookwise. She has two recipes, one from a friend of hers, and another her own. I used her friend's recipe and it was supposed be all authentic and stuff.
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#2 kpurvis

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 10:08 AM

Praline recipes vary almost as much as the pronunciation (you say PRAW-lean, I say PRAY-lean, let's call the whole thing off . . . ) Usually they are a little gritty, but there are also creamier versions.
Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

#3 Jaymes

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 10:18 AM

There are creamy versions, which can be a little gritty, and there are chewy versions. The famous ones from New Orleans are generally creamy. That's the kind my grammy made, and the only kind I was familiar with until I moved to Texas some years back. Here, they're often chewy.

I still prefer the creamy versions the best.

Yum.

#4 therese

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 11:01 AM

That fudgy/creamy/gritty quality is exactly what you're looking for. The chewy sort are okay, but nothing all that special.

We use Paul Prudhomme's recipe every Christmas, and people fight to get on the "list" for them.
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#5 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 11:09 AM

I will post a recipe that is both simple and delicious when I get home. With a little practice (and a really good thermometer and the ability to follow instructions EXACTLY) anybody can make these things. I make about 1200 (really) every Christmas and once you get cranked up it is pretty easy to whip them out batch after batch.

These are creamy. The grit comes from hitting a temp other than exactly soft ball.

They are fun to make and if you are doing a single batch (about 24 to 36 pralines) you can knock out a batch in about 1/2 hour, start to finish.
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#6 therese

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 02:46 PM

Yeah, a single batch. You are such a kidder, Mayhaw Man. First of all, only somebody who has done it before is going to get the first batch right (once you've figured it out you just sort of "know" when it's time to stop cooking and start dolloping). Second of all, a single batch isn't going to last more than about 10 minutes.
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#7 Comfort Me

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 02:55 PM

I will post a recipe that is both simple and delicious when I get home. With a little practice (and a really good thermometer and the ability to follow instructions EXACTLY) anybody can make these things. I make about 1200 (really) every Christmas and once you get cranked up it is pretty easy to whip them out batch after batch.

I'm looking forward to your recipe, Mayhaw. But tell me -- how much sugar does it take to make 1200 pralines?

Also, where do you buy your pecans? I've been buying from a place down your way, H.L. Bergeron, for about 10 years. (Caution: name dropping....Martha Stewart recommended them at a wedding.) They don't have a web site, and ordering took a long time. I'd like to find a good pecan farm grower with a good reputation and a good web site.
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#8 Jaymes

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 03:31 PM

I'm down here in the heart of pecan country, and I often buy them from local farms, but have found that when I'm not here in central Texas, the easiest thing to do, and the least expensive, is buy them from Sam's or Costco.

But, here is a good place to order them fresh: Texas Pecans.

And,

Navidad Pecan Farm

And Berdoll Pecan Farm, which I don't have a link for, but they are at:
Berdoll Pecan Farm, (512) 321-6157, Hwy 71 E, Austin, TX 78701

I have bought them from all three places and recommend each.

And, to expand a bit upon what has already been said:

They aren't exactly "difficult" to make, but timing is everything. Your biggest problems are knowing exactly when to take them off the heat, and when to turn them out. That just takes some practice. If you turn them out too soon, they never "set up." If you wait too long, they "set up" in your pan.

I remember once, years ago, a dear friend was having out of town guests, and I told her I was making some pralines to take over for her to share with her company. Well, the damn things just would not get hard. So I poured them into an attractive jar and tied a pretty ribbon around the top and gave it to her.

"Pralines? No, you must have misunderstood me. I said 'praline sauce! Just heat it up a little in the microwave and you can pour it over pound cake or ice cream or whatever."

They really loved it. And later, when my friend was bragging on me, I fessed up. Said I didn't think I could ever do it again, since I wasn't exactly sure what I had done that time. :laugh:

Edited by Jaymes, 09 February 2004 - 03:51 PM.


#9 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 04:10 PM

I will post a recipe that is both simple and delicious when I get home. With a little practice (and a really good thermometer and the ability to follow instructions EXACTLY) anybody can make these things. I make about 1200 (really) every Christmas and once you get cranked up it is pretty easy to whip them out batch after batch.

I'm looking forward to your recipe, Mayhaw. But tell me -- how much sugar does it take to make 1200 pralines?

Also, where do you buy your pecans? I've been buying from a place down your way, H.L. Bergeron, for about 10 years. (Caution: name dropping....Martha Stewart recommended them at a wedding.) They don't have a web site, and ordering took a long time. I'd like to find a good pecan farm grower with a good reputation and a good web site.

Pecans come from my family's farm in Mer Rouge, LA. The trees have been there a very long time. I once fell about 30 feet (we later measured, just for macabre humors sake) down through the limbs amd landed flat on my back. I was there with my grandmother and her housekeeper. My grandmother (75 at the time) ran about a 1/2 mile across a cotton field to get her car (she came mowing down through the just picked rows like something out of the Dukes of Hazzard, pretty cool for an old lady) to get me and take me to the Doc. I was fine. Very lucky. The bad part of the story is that she had a heart attack that night (she was fine too, she lived for a very long time after that, although she has now sadly passed). I have always felt rotten about that. It is kind of fun now though, as my kids point out the tree in question everytime we go by it.

Enough of that-Now for the Pralines

3 cups granulated sugar

1 cup WHOLE MILK

1/2 Cup Sugar

4 Cups toasted pecans (I toast mine relatively dark, but I like em like that)

1 tbls. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1) Bring the 3 cups of sugar and the milk to a boil

2) Caramelize the 1/2 cup sugar (I use a tiny black iron skillet, looks like an ashtray, but any pan suitable will do)

3) Incorporate the caramel into the milk/sugar mix and bring to soft ball

4) Add the vanilla, pecans, butter and bring it all back to soft ball( a degree or two past but just barely-to little will result in sticky and too much will be grainy)

5) Take off of heat and whip like crazy (this is where the trick is-you want to beat it enough to smooth the mixture out and add air, but not until it starts to sugar again-once you figure out what this looks and FEELS like- you can do a batch (or a double or othe multiple) in no time at all

6) Spoon onto wax paper

7) You can add a little milk to it and reheat if you are working in large batches and it starts to cool before you get them spooned out-sometimes you will need two people if doing large batches to get them spooned out quickly enough.

8) Let them cool completely and peel off of paper (they come up easily) and put into time or wrap in wax paper

Single batch makes 24-36


You can quadruple this with no trouble, and make about a 100 or more at the time (depending on size) but you have to work fast or you will need to reheat. I have found that a good, heavy, non stick sauce pan (I have a bigh Calphalon Pro) work best as it holds heat fairly well and is easy to clean up.

Bon Appetit :wub:
Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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#10 ellencho

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 10:57 AM

Thanks for the feedback guys. Glad to know that my pralines turned out the way they were supposed to. If I make them again perhaps I'll try a recipe for creamier less gritty ones.
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#11 therese

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 11:27 AM

Like Mayhaw Man said, the grittiness vs. creaminess has a lot to do with exact cooking conditions. Within a single batch, depending on how fast you work, you'll get some that are a bit grittier than others. But even the creamiest will have a certain slight gritty quality (in my experience, and I think this also has a lot to do with how one defines "gritty").
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#12 Jaymes

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 01:46 PM

Like Mayhaw Man said, the grittiness vs. creaminess has a lot to do with exact cooking conditions. Within a single batch, depending on how fast you work, you'll get some that are a bit grittier than others. But even the creamiest will have a certain slight gritty quality (in my experience, and I think this also has a lot to do with how one defines "gritty").

That slight "grittiness" is one of my favorite things about good creamy pralines. Perhaps it's best to refer to it as "sugary" or "crystalized."

:biggrin:

#13 ludja

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 02:11 PM

What's the best way to store pralines after making them? How long can you expect them last?

(Assuming you have willpower not to finish them right away)
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#14 kpurvis

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 08:00 AM

Straying a little, the pecan dicussion reminds me of my favorite story about strange behavior outside the South. On my first trip to New York years ago, just before Thanksgiving, we were standing in line in Macy's food hall. The woman in front of us, wearing a fur coat and radiating a certain, um, superior attitude, had a copy of the NYT food section. She got to the counter and asked, "Where are the pecan meats?" The clerk pointed to a big barrel of shelled pecan halves in the middle of the floor. "No, those are pecans. I want pecan MEATS." The clerk told her again they were right there. "No, no," she said. "The Times specifically calls for pecan MEATS. Where are the pecan MEATS?" The clerk finally said, "Oh, those. We're out of them."
I always figured she went back to her Park Avenue pied a terre and sent some poor maid on a search of Manhattan.
Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

#15 Jaymes

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 08:55 AM

What's the best way to store pralines after making them?  How long can you expect them last? 

(Assuming you have willpower not to finish them right away)

I wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then seal them into a tin of some sort.

They do dry out if they're not sealed up, and can crumble.

I also give away tins of them at Christmastime, and for one reason or another, have sometimes had to wait as much as a month before the intended recipient was available. The pralines stay good if they're sealed in to retain moisture.

Edited by Jaymes, 11 February 2004 - 08:57 AM.


#16 keith721

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 12:44 PM

Here's the recipe I use, from HPBooks 1986 "Cajun-Creole Cooking" by Terry Thompson. It's out of print, but an excellent reference for many fine dishes. You may find a used copy somewhere, ISBN 0-89586-371-5.

------------------------------------
New Orleans pralines -- and that's pronounced PRAH-leens, to set the reord straight -- are unique among pralines. They contain butter and milk to give them a softer, almost chewy texture. The taste is addictive.
------------------------------------

New Orleans Butter Pralines

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly-packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 cups pecan halves
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place 2 large parchment-paper sheets on baking sheets; butter parchment paper. Set aside. Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Cook to soft-ball stage, 234 degrees Fahrenheit or 114 degrees Centigrade. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Stir briskly until mixture loses its glossy sheen. WORKING QUICKLY, drop mixture by tablespoons onto buttered paper. Let pralines cool completely before removing from paper. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. Makes 24 pralines.
------------------------------------

(I've been known to use buttermilk instead of milk, for a different :blink: taste. Also, dark brown sugar instead of light, or molasses instead of light corn syrup. A darker, more robust praline is excellent with a strong cup of black coffee.)

#17 Mabelline

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 01:38 PM

Straying a little, the pecan dicussion reminds me of my favorite story about strange behavior outside the South. On my first trip to New York years ago, just before Thanksgiving, we were standing in line in Macy's food hall. The woman in front of us, wearing a fur coat and radiating a certain, um, superior attitude, had a copy of the NYT food section. She got to the counter and asked, "Where are the pecan meats?" The clerk pointed to a big barrel of shelled pecan halves in the middle of the floor. "No, those are pecans. I want pecan MEATS." The clerk told her again they were right there. "No, no," she said. "The Times specifically calls for pecan MEATS. Where are the pecan MEATS?" The clerk finally said, "Oh, those. We're out of them."
I always figured she went back to her Park Avenue pied a terre and sent some poor maid on a search of Manhattan.

That's just too funny :laugh: Prob'ly reamed the poor maid when she came back with them, too! Now she could be a poster child for a few dimes short of a dollar!

#18 ludja

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 09:23 AM

I had some pecans, brown sugar and cream left over from making a caramel cake last weekend so I decided to make pralines for my bookclub last night. I used this recipe for Bourbon Pecan Pralines out of Bill Neal's Southern Cooking.

Here's a photo:
Posted Image

They came out pretty well, I think, with a good creamy texture.

Does anyone have comments on the 'sugar bloom' that can be seen on the candies? Is this unavoidable or does it indicate that I beat the mixture too long before spooning it out? Something else?

Thanks!

Edited by ludja, 22 September 2006 - 09:30 AM.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#19 HungryC

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 12:33 PM

In my experience, the sugar bloom is caused by the ambient humidity in the room after you spoon out the pralines. In damp weather, sometimes the pralines start sugaring right away.

#20 highchef

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 12:46 PM

In my experience, the sugar bloom is caused by the ambient humidity in the room after you spoon out the pralines.  In damp weather, sometimes the pralines start sugaring right away.

View Post



which is why we don't make these, or divinity etc. on a hot, humid day, and we've had years where the first cool front didn't arrive until Jan.. This is not one of those years apparently.
Today would be a very good day to make pralines...would be, but the pecans aren't down yet!! They are in the stores now though, but I'll wait until the local crop comes in. Thanks for the recipes, I'll need to compare them to my fav's and see if there's any difference. I like creamy, but not too creamy. You should be able to break a hunk of pecan off with a soft snap, if that makes any sense. I guess we're all gearing up for holiday gift giving.

#21 ludja

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 12:55 PM

Thanks for the tips regarding the pralines and humidity, fron two Louisiana cooks, no less! The blooming did start not long after I spooned them out.

I would have thought the humidity was pretty low that day, as it usually is between May and October out here, but I guess there was enough moisture around. It was a little warm that day, so that probably helped increase the humidity. Northen California's rainy season is November-April though so the low humidity at Christmas time for making confections doesn't esactly work out! Perhaps it still is pretty low as long as it isn't actually raining out. I'll have to keep watch.

Thanks again!

Edited by ludja, 25 September 2006 - 12:59 PM.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#22 racheld

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 10:56 PM

Let them cool completely and peel off of paper (they come up easily) and put into time or wrap in wax paper

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YESSS!! Pralines are immortal!!

rachel, still wondering what you meant by that
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And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
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#23 racheld

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 08:53 PM

Tins, maybe? Like a good ole Hostess Fruitcake round tin box, with the gold etchings and the pretty scalloped paper for a liner? I miss those, tin and cake.
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
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#24 minas6907

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 07:06 PM

Hi Everyone.

 

I have a question about the southers style pralines. My roomate is from Texas, so I was just playing around today and though 'why not try making pralines?' The only formula I've messed with is from the 2nd ed of Chocolates and Confections, the Yankee Pralines. I subbed the walnuts and cranberry for pecans (cause I knew he probably wouldnt care for the walnuts and cranberrys). Anywho, I'm sort of wondering if they came out right. I've had the pralines he brings back from Texas, they were sort of thin obviously crystallized. What came from this recipe are chewy. I made it twice, the second time cooking the mixture 5 degree higher and making absolutely sure the mixture got agitated, but the second batch is still chewy. I supposes I had in mind that they would crystallize firmer, like a fudge or fondant center, but then I realized these candies are something that are foreign to me. I've pretty much made everything from the chapters that cover both the crystallized and non-crystallized confections, so sugar boiling and what happens when you agitate it is nothing I havent done before. After a google search, I saw that chewy pecan pralines do exist...so there appears to be two different types, those that are crystallized solid, and those that are chewy. So I was wondering, did I do something wrong here? Or am I just expecting a totally different texture then what this actually yields? Anyways, I thought about posting this topic cause I know there are people out there who have had many more pralines then I have hahaha, again these simple candies are foreign to me. It seems like everyone has a particular way they like them. Thanks again!



#25 minas6907

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 07:08 PM

Btw, I havent tried the Pecan Praline recipe from C&C, that will be next, I'll be interested to see the texture that yields, if its the same or not. The ingredients are a little different, but the temps are exactly the same.



#26 Jim D.

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 07:49 PM

Minas,

Pecan pralines are definitely an acquired taste--a real sugar overdose.  But the standard Southern praline can be found at this link from Southern Living magazine.  And Southern Living is as Southern as it's possible to get (in my opinion).

 

http://www.southernl...00417000071984/

 

The photo on that page is what I have always seen as a praline (I live in Virginia).  I find it hilarious that, according to that link, pralines were originally considered "an aid to digestion at the end of the meal."  More like a diabetic attack.



#27 kayb

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 09:10 AM

I have a "cheater" praline recipe I've used for years; it's very difficult to tell from the real thing. It involves (gasp) Jello pudding

 

1 4.6 oz box Jello non-instant butterscotch pudding

1.5 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1 tbsp butter

2 cups toasted pecans

 

combine the pudding mix, brown sugar, evap. milk and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar and butter melt, cook without stirring until it reaches 238F on the candy thermometer.

 

Remove from heat, stir in pecans. Beat until it begins to thicken and lose its gloss. Drop by tablespoonsful onto aluminum foil and allow to harden.

 

Hard to tell from the real thing. This makes the thin, delicate praline that is not chewy.


Don't ask. Eat it.

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#28 highchef

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 08:46 AM

My experience with Texas pralines has been that they exist as the chewy type. New Orleans pralines have the opaque, crystalline (sp?) nature. I have seen almost every recipe out there, but I have never seen the cheater one above from Kayb. Thank you.

If you are looking for what I call the Eastern variety, buy a River Roads cookbook from the Junior League Baton Rouge. I suggest that, because I have many, many cookbooks and that one is the best representation of the best of Louisiana basic cooking. It has the recipes that I watched happen in all the kitchens of friends and family…the tried and true. Not just the beautiful creole cooking of NOLA, but all the tried and true of south LA. 

I will post the recipe if you can't find it via google. I am not at home just now, but let me know if you need it.



#29 brucesw

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 11:43 AM

I grew up in Texas (40s-50s) and am familiar with both types though we didn't call one of them pralines.  The pictures on the SL link look like the candies you used to get at Tex-Mex restaurants at the end of the meal, wrapped in cellophane.  I haven't see those in years.  We just called them pecan candies or Mexican pecan candies.

 

The (other type of) praline was home-made, thinner, crystalline rather than chewy in texture, not really brittle but snap-able.  I never turned down the 'free' candies at Tex-Mex restaurants but I considered them inferior, partly because of the quality of the pecans.

 

On a solo trip to NOLA as a grad student I bought a box of pralines in the Quarter; they were like what I was used to growing up.

 

I went googling to find out what the Mexican candies were called and found this Texas Monthly article with a recipe.  It turns out many people did come to call them pralines.  Note the sub-title - we don't cotton to the chewy kind.

 

The home-made ones I grew up with were a bit paler in color and typically weren't that loaded with nuts - they were as much about the sugar as the nuts.


Edited by brucesw, 22 December 2013 - 11:47 AM.

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#30 Jaymes

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 12:22 PM

If you eat something really spicy and your mouth is on fire, the very best way to cool it off is with sugar. So, for decades, the traditional end to a spicy meal at a TexMex restaurant was a sweet bite of the creamy, non-chewy praline-type candy. The Mexicans call it 'Leche Quemada.' It can be made with or without pecans. Sometimes it even has coconut. But it's basically the same thing as a creamy pecan praline.
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