Noelie’s Pecan Pralines
“Uh-huh, tell me what the weather is like,” is what Mama asked over the phone when I told her I was making pralines for a Christmas party that night. At first, I thought she was changing the subject rather quickly, then while I was describing the weather as cold and humid I remembered that the weather condition determines the success of the candy. Since the humidity was high she told me that I may need to let the candy cook a little longer passed the soft-ball stage. With that in mind my first batch of pralines was a little dry and set up rather quickly, the second batch was better, but the third was melt in your mouth good! Guess I was out of practice.
The Sweet Tradition of Pecan Pralines
Noelie Trahan, Mama’s mama, made the best pecan pralines. They became a tradition in our southern Louisiana home at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. MaMa had a large pecan orchard where we used to help her pick those nuts every fall. I recall seeing large flour sacks filled with pecans for drying on the wash house floor. There were plenty of them for pralines. I can’t remember the holidays without those sweet treats. These are not difficult to make. The trickiest part is knowing when to take them off of the heat before adding the pecans. Here’s the recipe:Print
Noelie’s Pecan Pralines
My Mama’s recipe for this classic Cajun candy of nutty creaminess is easy to make and so delicious, especially for the holidays.
2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt
1 cup canned evaporated milk
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecans halves
Put sugar, baking soda, salt and milk in a heavy saucepan. Stir ingredients together and cook over medium to medium-low heat with a constant stir. Cook until the candy darkens and it reaches the soft-ball stage, 235 – 245 degrees on the thermometer.
Take pot off of heat and add the butter and vanilla to the pralines. Beat by hand with a spoon for a few minutes then add pecans continuing to beat until it feels a bit firmer.
Drop pralines onto waxed paper using a tablespoon and let sit until they harden and cool completely.
Instead of using a candy thermometer you can test to see if the pralines have reached the soft-ball stage by placing a few drops of the mixture into an ice cold cup of water. Use your fingers to form the praline mixture into a ball. If it has reached the appropriate stage it will form into a ball but will turn flat after it is taken out of the cold water.
Cold, dry weather will help in yielding the best results for pralines. If the weather is humid you may need to cook the pralines a little past the soft-ball stage.
Reaching The Soft-Ball Stage
I have never gotten along well with a candy thermometer so I just take a cup of cold water and pour a little of the candy into the water to test and see at what stage the candy has cooked.
Pouring onto a sheet of wax paper right on top of the counter is the last stage. I let the pralines set until they harden and cool completely.
I treasure Noelie’s Pecan Praline recipe. It’s a gift from her to our family that I use to make happy memories in the kitchen with friends and family. Hoping you get to make gifts of time spent in the kitchen with your loved ones this Christmas even if it’s just sharing a cup of hot cocoa together.
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens