Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Southern Pralines

Creamy southern pralines are a simple candy confection, made from boiled sugar and nuts, and are a holiday tradition.

Southern Pralines

The Cajun came home the other day with a handful of pralines that his Mama has sent him home with when he stopped by for a visit with her on his way to a meeting. Now I don't honestly know how many he started off with between his Mama's and his meeting, but trouble is, see, me. Me, the sugar junkie, got into 'em that evenin' by mindlessly munching on them while I was busy putting a recipe into the blog. Well, before I knew it, those few that did make their way to the house, well... they were gone! Yikes!

Well, I felt so bad that I decided I'd better make some more. For him of course. To make up for the ones from his Mama that I ate. Yeah, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Okay. It coulda had somethin' to do with havin' a desire for a few more myself. I admit it. They truly can be a bit addictive. See, for me, I don't necessarily crave sugar, but... once I start, I do have a bit of a problem with stopping. But, I'll leave that up to you to test for yourself!

Now just in case you don't know, Southern Pralines are a simple candy confection, made from boiled sugar and nuts. Generally down south, where pralines are found everywhere - and especially most often around the Christmas holidays - from gas stations, to grocery stores, to the corner jyp joint, to the bakery, that nut is gonna be pecans. And, just like pecans - where depending on where you're from that might be pee-can or puh-con, pralines might be pronounced one of two ways. Down my way, we've always pronounced it praw-leen, though some folks are known to pronounce it pray-leen. Either way, no matter how ya say it, they shore are delicious!! Oh and by the way, try the coconut pecan variation sometime too - divine!

So that brings me to that very important question. Is it PEE-CAN or PUH-CON? Paula Deen calls them pee-cans and I have even seen her correct a guest or three on her show a time or two who said it "wrong" in her opinion. Well... I can't say that there's a right or wrong way, but I can say that when I was a young gal, the first time I ever said pee-can in front of my Mama, well she very promptly corrected me and said it was rightly pronounced puh-con, because a pee-can was what you kept under your bed at night to prevent ya from having to make a night run to the cold outhouse. I never made that mistake again. Not that I ever even have used an outhouse, thank ya Lord.

In all fairness, I'll have to first say that I am the first to admit that I am no candy maker, so mine never really turn out perfect looking, but that's okay because they sure taste perfect, so if you're not a perfect candy maker, don't worry. You can do this too.  Anyway... as most candies do, we start off with a mixture of sugar. A slight warning. Might as well follow that "rule" that if it's raining or looking like rain, don't make candy because it may or may not set. Don't know 'twether or not that old wives tale is true I've never  but let's just not mess with it, okay?

Put 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup of light corn syrup, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in a heavy bottomed large saucepan. Stir together and put that over medium heat.

In the meantime, go ahead and clear off a spot on your countertop and lay out some sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper. Sorry about the bottle, but I needed it to help the camera to focus on something that wasn't white. We'll need that here in a bit anyway.

Gently stir the ingredients over medium heat and using a wooden spoon, cook until the sugar has all dissolved.

See that crystalization building up on the side of the pot? Ignore it. Dont scrape it down into the pot, or you'll risk crystalizing your pralines, which will produce a grainy praline as opposed to a creamy praline.

The mixture is just beginning to get heated well and the sugar is dissolving.

Continue cooking. You'll see the mixture bubble up nearly to the top of the pot - just keep a watchful eye and a gentle occasional stir on it, adjusting the heat down slightly if needed, but keeping it at a bubbling boil. As you see, the sugar mixture is just beginning to darken.

Keep cooking and occasionally giving the mixture a gentle stir. The mixture is darkening substantially.

Boil until you reach a temperature of 232 degrees. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla extract, and begin beating the mixture until it's nice and smooth.

Stir in the pecans. I generally like to use pecan halves that are sightly broken up.

Stir the pecans in quickly as mixture will begin to thicken up fairly fast.

Drop by spoonfuls into piles on those sheets of waxed paper you laid out earlier. Now ain't ya glad you did that? I usually use two spoons, one to scoop and the other to push off the scoop spoon. The number of pralines you end up with will depend on how large you make your plops. Since I'm not the most expert candy maker by any means, my plops are usually fairly hefty, so I end up with about a dozen and a half.

Continue until you have used up all of the sugar mixture to create these lovely little pools of candy. They start off a bit dark, but as they set up, you'll see them begin to lighten up. See how this piece is already beginning to lighten?

Now ... how 'bout you go make some too!!

Recipe: Southern Pralines

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 5 min |Cook time: 25+ min | Yield: About 1-1/2 to 3 dozen

  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pecans

Combine first 5 ingredients in a heavy saucepan; mix well. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves; cook until mixture reaches soft ball stage (232 degrees). Remove from heat; add vanilla and beat until creamy. Stir in pecans. Drop from a spoon onto waxed paper; let stand until firm.

Makes about 1-1/2 to 3 dozen, depending on how large you make 'em!

Coconut Pecan Pralines: Prepare as above, increasing butter to a full stick (1/2 cup) and combining 2 cups of sweetened, shredded coconut with the pecans, and adding the mixture in with the vanilla. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly and thicken, then drop on wax paper.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
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  1. What if you call them pee cons ? I will be making these babies.

  2. LOL Nana... I'm pretty sure my Mama woulda said the same thing about a Pee-Con! I gotta warn ya, there are soooooooo addictive!! Enjoy.

  3. Welcome to the foodie blog roll! I am enjoying your recipe and cooking blog tonight since I enjoy cooking, especially baking!

  4. Hi Shelly! Glad to be a part of the foodie family. As you see I also enjoy cooking. I really think I am happiest in the kitchen honestly. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment - I'll have to pop over and visit you to see what you're baking!!

  5. Yum, those look sinfully delicious! Love your blog!

    Dropping by to welcome you to SITS - so happy to have you join us!

  6. Wow! Do they look delicious!

    Welcome to SITS! It's great to have you as part of the SITStahood!

  7. It's super nice to meet you - welcome to the SITS community!

    It's a good thing I can't reach through the screen and grab those pralines. Mercy they look fabulous!

    I lived in Mississippi (Jackson and Gulfport) as a child. :o)

  8. Mrs. Jelly Belly, Sandy and Joy - thanks so much for the warm welcome! I look forward to being a part of the SITStahood!!

  9. i haven't had pralines in AGES. i may just have to make some once lent has passed. yum!

    stopping by to welcome you to SITS, we are so happy to have you as a part of such a wonderful community!

  10. These look great! I might have to give it a try.

    Welcome to SITS!

  11. Thanks Rachael & K! I can't believe the outpouring of fellowship from SITS - glad that I discovered y'all!!

  12. Delicious! What a great recipe! Hope you can come over and share this yummy treat over at Foodista.com - the cooking encyclopedia everyone can edit. Would also love a link to this post from our site.(This will direct Foodista readers to your blog)Here's how you can create inbound links from our site Check it out here. This is a great way for you to build blog traffic and connect with other food lovers! See you there! Thanks!

  13. Hey Mary,

    Nice post, made me laugh. I love pecans, we used to bring back huge bags of them from our family reunion in Sylvania, GA, every year. My family would gather round and shell um and eat um. Will surely try your recipe. By the way, when I was little I saw a pee-can with my own eyes....

  14. Hi Alisa, I'll be sure to check that out!

    LOL Joyce, I don't think I ever saw one personally, or if I did I blocked it from my memory! Seems I do remember seeing an outhouse somewhere though...

  15. Welcome to SITS! I'm with the welcome wagon and we're so glad you joined us. You will LOVE it! So, welcome, welcome, welcome--I'm glad to meet a new SITSta.:)
    Yummy!!! I will definitely try these, thank you for sharing.

  16. M A R Y !!!!!
    I have been cravin' Pralines for a week and up to this point I have been able to restrain myself from makin' some. Thanks a lot! LOL
    I really am goin' to make some tomorrow now. My recipe is a little different from yours but I think they are probably good no matter how they are made.
    My dad always called 'em pee cans.

  17. LOL Rebel! Oh well... just make yerself some woman!!! :) I suppose no matter how you make pralines they are good. Let me guess ... bet you use brown sugar??

    You know what's funny? I'm pretty sure my Mama's sister - well one of 'em - called them pee-cans too and they used to fight about it every single time. That aunt used to also call a sink a zink - never could figure that one out - so who knows! Makes me smile to think about that since she passed away a year ago this month. I sure miss her!

  18. wow, those look awesome!! stopping in to welcome you to SITS, I will most certainly be back!!

  19. Thanks for the welcome AP! I look forward to seeing you come back!!

  20. Oh, YUM!!! Looks delicious!

    Good for you for giving up sugar! I'm giving up caffeine... not quite sure how I'm going to make it! Today was really rough!

    Welcome to SITS!

  21. When we lived in Austin, there was a mexican food restaurant that always gave you pralines for dessert after the meal. Weird, huh?! And sherbet...

    I'm with the SITS Welcome Wagon! I've been a member since last summer, and I love it. I've read so many fun blogs, met some amazing woman, and really enjoyed the support of being in a female blogging community. Welcome aboard!

  22. Just came across your blog. Being a southern girl myself I just might have to buy me a candy thermometer. I've never thought I needed one but I think I do now. I am not a candy maker but I might have to try these. Great blog !

  23. Oh my. I might have to make these. But then I would eat them all and have to buy bigger jeans so I'll need to figure that into my grocery budget. LOL!

    Welcome to SITS!

  24. Thanks for the SITS welcome everybody! What a great group of bloggers - I am so glad I discovered y'all!!

    greedygrace - I'm craving sugar for sure! It's definitely a sacrifice for me. I guess it would be more appropriate to say I've given up desserts/sweets because it would be difficult to avoid all sugar since it's in just about everything these days! I ain't goin' there!!

    Hi Rhea! Hmmm... I wonder if they put something spicy in their pralines?? That'd be interesting...

    Hi Sherrie thanks and a big ole southern welcome! Hope to see more of ya. Oh and that thermometer will come in handy for fryin' chicken too ya know! :)

    Brandy, I'm the same way, which of course is why I had to make these to begin with after eatin' all the ones that Hubs brought home {blush} LOL...

  25. OMG, These are way too good. I made them to add to my Christmas candies and can't keep away from them. Mary, Mary, shame on you! LOVE YOUR RECIPES....THANKS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

  26. That's the kinda "shaming" I'll happily take Becky!! Happy Holidays to you too!!

  27. I grew up in southeastern Oklahoma and we called them puh-cons. When I was a kid, three of my siblings and I would go down to the bottom pasture and pick up a "toe" sack full In late November or early December and then my grandparents would take them to town and sell them for us. This money was what we kids used to buy Christmas presents for our parents and grandparents. If truth be told, our grandparents just gave us money out of their own pockets so we could buy gifts. But we always thought we had worked hard and earned the money ourselves. It is still a precious memory for all of us!

  28. Oh now Pati, that REALLY reminds me of my mama! She used to buy paper sacks filled with pecans, cracked sometimes, sometimes not, from folks in her old neighborhood on the Point of Biloxi. I'm certain that they sold them for the very same reason, and since mama was on a very tight budget I'm sure she saved up for those purchases! We'd sit at the kitchen counter cracking and shelling pecans for mama's cookie making night with her sisters - they'd always make finger cookies & pusharatas & mama made her fresh apple cake every Christmas. Memories!


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