Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
The Creole/Cajun candy called "praline," whose fame has spread from New Orleans throughout the United States and beyond, has a long and storied history. The word and the confection itself are of French origin. In the 17th century, Lassagne, the chef de bouche, or master of the household, of the Comte du Plessin-Praslin came up with the idea of coating whole almonds in sugar, in order (so the story has it) to prevent the nuts from giving his master indigestion. The Comte took credit for the new sweet and gave it his own name. In the 19th century, the great chef Viard included a recipe for praline in Le cuisinier impérial, one of the most important cookbooks of its era.
When the French went to Louisiana, "praline" - eventually meaning any sugar-coated nut - went with them. In the Creole homes of New Orleans, praline came to refer to a delightful confection made from the delicious pecans that grew so plentifully in the region. Over the ensuing centuries, these "pecan pralines" or "pacanes à la crème" have become as recognizable a symbol of the French Quarter as its ironwork balconies and cobblestone streets.
- Combine the sugar and milk and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Add the butter, vanilla and pecans. Cook until the syrup reaches the soft ball stage (238° F).
- Let cool five minutes, then beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to thicken.
- Drop by tablespoons onto a well-greased flat surface (aluminum foil works well). The candy will flatten out into large rounds, about three to four inches in diameter.
- When cool, store the candy in an airtight container.
Hints & Tips