Tomato Tomahto, Potato Potahto, Praline Prahleen - is there really a difference? Yes, at least in the case of the latter. Praline can mean many different things and when it is pronounced prahleen, it refers to the pecan-filled, Southern confection that is kinda fudge-like in texture. They are irresistable, caramely nuggets of goodness that are insta-sugar for your soul.
|Source||The Encyclopedia of Cajan and Creole Cuisine|
Pralines are not difficult to make, they just take a little practice to perfect. The two main stumbling blocks are:
- When to remove the mixture from the heat. If the mixture gets too hot, the batch will be dry and crumbly. If it isn't cooked long enough, the mixture will be runny and sticky, more like caramel.
- When to stop stirring and begin dolloping the pralines. If you stir the mixture too much, the pralines will have a sandy, gritty texture. If you stop stirring too soon, you do not create the crstallization necessary for the creamy texture.
The first is easy to answer - use a candy thermometer and through a little trial and error, find the right temperature. The second is a little harder to quantify. For example, most recipes give vague hints about when to stop stirring. They will read, "Stir the mixture until the pot sings.." Truly, what are the chances you get the recipe right the first time? What if you are deaf to the tune the pot is singing? Don't despair. Use the less-than-ideal pralines crumbled up over ice cream, apple pie, yogurt, etc. Then try again. Once you get it right, you will be able to tell when the pots sings!
Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees. Remove from heat and continue stirring until the mixture becomes creamy, cloudy and thickened slightly. Working quickly, drop spoonfuls onto a silicon baking matt or buttered waxed paper. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Things to Consider:
I am sure there are many debates about the following, do some research, pick your favorite:
- Whole Pecans vs. Pecan Pieces
- Toasted Pecans vs. Raw Pecans
- Evaporated Milk vs. Whole Milk vs. Cream
The temperatures used in this recipe have been adapted for high altitude, over 5,000 feet. The original recipe called for a range of 234 - 240 degrees F. To adapt for your location, use 234-240 as the starting point and decrease the temperature 1 degree for every 500 feet above sea level.