One nice thing about being a Texan is we can choose, on any given day, if we’d prefer to be Southerners or simply Texans. At least that’s my take on it and today, given the fact that I’ve been reading my Paula Deen cookbook, I’m going with Southerner.
The book is The Lady and Sons Dessert Book. It was written after Paula’s Savannah restaurant became successful, but before she became a Food TV superstar. It’s a piece of history, and you can buy it off Amazon….unless of course, you’re lucky enough to find it at Half Price Books, where some crazy person gave it up. Now y’all, tell me. Why would anyone sell a Paula Deen book?
Paula’s praline recipe, as expected, turns out perfect pralines. These aren’t the sticky, caramel kind (which in my opinion, aren’t worthy of being called pralines) but the creamy-yet- firm-and-somewhat-chalky-for-lack-of-a-better-descriptor type.
Here’s my tip. If you boil it to 236 degrees (forget all that hooey about dropping it into cold water and seeing if it forms a soft ball – use a candy or deep fry thermometer) it should set. However, it might not set as quickly as you expect. I do not know if humidity really affects candy, but it’s muggy here and my candy took a while to set. It did set, though.
Paula’s Pecan Pralines
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dark Karo syrup or Karo brown sugar corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves (I toast the pecans first)
Butter the sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Place the sugar, salt, and corn syrup, milk, and butter in saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until sugars have dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook to a soft ball stage, approximately 236 degrees F on candy thermometer, stirring very often (watch your heat. If it gets to hot, the candy could boil over. Remove from heat and allow candy to cool for 10 minutes in pan. (Note: I had to let it rest for at least 20. At 10 minutes, it was still to droopy to add the vanilla and pecans.
Add the vanilla and nuts, and beat with a spoon by hand for approximately 2 minutes or until candy is slightly thick and begins to lose its gloss. Quickly drop heaping tablespoons onto waxed paper. If the candy becomes stiff, add a few drops of hot water.