Edible Holiday Gifts – Pralines

Once December rolls, my time gets swallowed between the work busy season, holiday celebrations (this year I already have five commitments in the three weekends prior to Christmas), and the inevitable gift shopping.  For the last three years, I have turned on the oven, and baked my way into edible gift giving.   I’ve baked brownies, every-chip cookies (white and semisweet chocolate chips, dried cranberry, pistachio and pecans), and guava panetela (also known as torta cubana).  This year, just for the sheer ease, I’m adding pralines to the mix.  I made some for the first time last week for Thanksgiving and loved how quickly you can make a batch.  By the time it takes me to put together cookie dough and get it ready for the oven, the pralines are already setting.

Pralines_setting

I scraped all the leftover sugary bits out of that pot.  I could have saved them for cookies, but where’s the fun in that?

A basic praline recipe calls for equal parts of  brown and granulated sugars, cream, butter and pecans. Some recipes may call for corn syrup, while others substitute the cream for evaporated or condensed milk.  While they are traditionally made with pecans, plentiful all through the Southern US, other nuts may be used as well  Pralines can be either individual sugary disks with pecan pieces encrusted, or a more free form brittle cut into squares or haphazard shapes.  I have also bought praline covered individual pecans.  Since I am not that experienced in candy making, I emptied out the mixture in a greased cookie sheet,  a la brittle.  I love pecans and added at least an extra half-cup more pecans than what the recipe called for to make the most of the sugary syrup.  I also bought a cheap ($4.00) glass candy thermometer to make sure I didn’t over cook the mixture prior to adding the pecans.

Mise_en_place

Mise en place – sugars in the cast iron pot, evaporated milk, butter, vanilla, and salt.

I followed this recipe, only bumping up the amount of pecans to two whole cups.  I always have evaporated milk in my pantry, but am sure they would be delicious with cream as well.  I tried cutting the brittle into uniform pieces, but that didn’t work out too well.

Pralines_cooling

Waiting for the mixture to cool before stirring vigorously

This post will be duplicated soon in my (cough) more formal food blog Great Food 360°.  I think right now that the difference between the posts in GF360° and the ones here is that I will try to add more information on the items I am profiling – including where to go eat it – and will also attempt to improve my food styling.  I can only crop out so much of my messy kitchen!  I wrote to the Posterous people and I will be able to transfer in the near future some of the posts here to the other blog without losing comments and time stamps.

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Author:Adriana

Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

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