In 1984 my parents took me to the World's Fair in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was my first experience in the Crescent City, and although I was only 12 I fell in love with the culture that is New Orleans. Besides king cakes and beignets, pecan pralines are a New Orleans institution. The delectable candy dates back to the 1700s. The French elite of Louisiana enjoyed a candy made from white sugar and almonds, but soon their Creole neighbors added the plentiful local pecan and brown sugar. And the praline as we know it today was born. Throughout the 1800s, African-American women sold their homemade pralines throughout New Orleans. They became the most popular of the street vendors in the area. In the 1900s the praline ladies gave way to praline stores throughout the French Quarter. I remember enjoying the candies on our trip so much that I picked out a souvenir that has well out-lasted any piece of candy. I chose a beautiful doll, made in New Orleans from the Gambina Doll Company. I'm sad to report the doll factory has long since closed, but I still have my beautiful doll as a reminder of that vacation and the delicious pralines we enjoyed.
|A taste of New Orleans: Louisiana-Style Pecan Pralines|
Louisiana-Style Pecan Pralines
1 cup brown sugar, not packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup pecan halves
Using a wooden spoon, combine brown sugar and the next 5 ingredients in a sauce-pan over medium heat. Cook 10 minutes or to a soft ball stage. (Test for doneness by dropping a drop of the mixture into cold water. The drop should be soft and able to form a ball when picked up with your fingers.) Remove from heat. Add vanilla and pecans. Stir one minute or until mixture starts to thicken. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased wax paper. Cool before serving.
Prep Time: Approximately 5 minutes Cook Time: Approximately 10 minutes