What is a Praline? The Ultimate Guide to Pecan Pralines

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What is a Praline?  The Ultimate Guide to Pecan Pralines

Pecans are one of the most nutritious nuts around. Pecans are packed full of antioxidants and they are a good source of macronutrients and micronutrients. Pecans contain roughly 19 vitamins and minerals and are a compact snack that provides natural fats, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. Knowing how healthy they are is only part of what makes pecans so appealing. Did you know, pecans are also perfect for sweet desserts and treats? Pecans have become a staple in some southern states, with the classic pecan pie making it to the top of the list for favorite pies. Even Texas officially named pecan pie as their state pie. That just shows how satisfyingly delicious pecans are. Pecan pie isn’t the only dish pecans can be used for. Have you ever heard of pecan candies or pecan pralines? If you haven’t, this guide will give you a detailed idea of just how sweet pecans can get.

Praline

Pecan pralines are the perfect treat for your sweet tooth. If you’re ever at a loss for what to make for your child’s birthday party or next family get-together, look no further. Pecan pralines will bring a delighted smile to everyone’s face. Maybe you are used to munching on a handful of pecans for that quick pick-me-up. But, have you tried a pecan praline or two with your cup of coffee? Adding a pecan praline treat to your mid-morning brunch will do wonders for your taste buds and your mood. After all, pecan pralines are considered one of the healthier options to indulge in.

Pecans are considered a superfood, packed full of vitamins and minerals most people aren’t even aware of. Did you know, pecans may contain cancer-fighting nutrients? If you’re curious about whether pecans lose their nutritional value when added to sweet pastries or delectable desserts, don’t worry. That isn’t the case at all. Have you ever thought that eating pecan pralines or pecan candies can have health benefits for your skin, heart, and digestive tract? Pecans are naturally cholesterol-free and sodium-free. This doesn’t mean to eat your weight in pecans or indulge in a pound of pecan pralines. Just keep in mind that age-old saying, everything in moderation. Excessive sweets can have detrimental health effects and because pecans are packed full of natural proteins and fats, it is possible to overdo it. If your daily routine involves high activity, introducing pecan nuts in any tasty form will have a positive impact on your energy levels. This means mixing up the pecan palate. Try a variety of roasted, raw, chopped, or candied pecans. Of course, to satisfy that sweet tooth, pecan pralines are the way to go.

What is a praline?

Most people believe a praline is just another word for candies. However, there’s a lot more to it than that. A praline is prepared using sugar and nuts. Pralines are what chefs and bakers call a confectionery treat. Pralines are most commonly made using sugar with pecans, but almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts have also been used. It’s your preference on what nuts to use for pralines, but the best nut to choose is pecans. This is because pecans are ranked as the most nutritious nut that contains the most antioxidants. Pecans also have that buttery, nutty flavor that you can’t get with any other nuts.

Pralines are a mouth-watering treat of various sugars and nuts that can get ground into a paste and a filling for pastries, candies, and cakes. The praline paste is also used in creams, for icings, and as a flavoring for specialty doughs. Praline swirls and pecan praline chunks have even been added to ice cream. A pecan praline is often made with brown sugar and pecans.

Did you know, there are three main types of pralines? The American praline, particularly southern style, uses pecans, cream or milk, sugar, and vanilla. They’re usually smoother and have been described as the melt-in-your-mouth sweet treat. French pralines traditionally used almonds and sometimes hazelnuts along with caramelized sugars. This candy was slightly hard and is what inspired American pecan pralines. Belgian pralines are completely different than what you would expect. In Belgium, pralines look nothing like the American or French versions. Instead, Belgian chocolatiers use pralines, which consist of a different combination of crushed almonds or hazelnuts, caramelized sugar, syrups, and milk or cream pastes. This mixture would be used as a filling. Belgian pralines are used as filling inside chocolate shells and are considered luxury chocolates with a soft center. Regardless of which type of pralines you’re interested in, all of them are worth a try.

Pralines Pronunciation

Trying to figure out the etymology of words can be tricky. Learning about the origins of words is also an interesting adventure. When it comes to pralines, the history is quite intriguing. The term praline was first coined in France, during the early 18th century. A French soldier named Marshal de Plessis-Praslin had a creative cook. This famous cook had created the praline using whole almonds. They cooked the almonds in boiling sugar until the mix became brown. Essentially, each almond was caramelized in sugar. Although the cooks’ name is lost in the annals of history, this sweet confection did not go unnoticed. It was eventually named after the French soldier, whom the cook worked for. Thus, Praslin led to “pralin” meaning crushed nuts and it eventually became praline.

Pralines: Traditional vs. Regional Pronunciation

Praline has two syllables and is pronounced as “ˈprāˌlēn.” The “a” is long with a pronounced double “aa” sound, such as “ah.” The “e” is elongated, like the word “lean.”

The traditional pronunciation for praline is “prah-leen” or “praa-leen.” However, this doesn’t mean that’s the only way the word is pronounced. Whether you are in Europe or America, praline can be said in several ways.

Regional pronunciation of the word praline differs from what you would expect in the northern states. Southern states, such as Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina place more emphasis on the vowels in the word praline. In other words, broken down, the syllables sound more like “pray-leen” as opposed to “prah-leen.” This pronunciation breakdown is similar to how pecan is pronounced based on the region you’re in. When it comes right down to it, how you pronounce pecan pralines is based on your preference.

How to make pecan candy

There are a variety of methods for making pecan candy. You can follow a classic caramelized sugar recipe, experiment with chocolate, or do both. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Besides, what family wouldn’t enjoy chocolate-covered pecans, chocolate-covered candied pecans, praline pecans, or sugar-coated pecan pralines? If you’re curious about low-sugar options, take a look at Millican Pecan’s sugar-free chocolate pecans. These are a great choice for folks looking to meet their savory sweet-tooth needs without their blood-sugar levels skyrocketing.

While flavored pecans are always a welcome snack, pecan candy is on a whole other level. This is because there are so many candied recipes to try. You can go for sweet and spicy, sweet and tangy, or extra-sweet. How to make pecan candy requires three main ingredients, sugar, plenty of pecans, and mounds of patience. The term “candy” denotes an endless stream of possibilities. In other words, candy doesn’t just involve various sugars, it can also mean dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate.

The easiest way to prepare pecan candy usually involves your choice of whole pecans or pecan halves. Toasted pecans tend to draw out the natural oils, making it easier to glaze or coat with sugary toppings. When preparing your pecan candy, begin with toasted pecans. To make the sweet coating for your pecans, melt the chocolate or prepare the caramelized sugars. This is done on the stovetop. For caramelized sugar, mix your choice of sugar, cream, vanilla, and butter into a pan. Allow the mixture to come to a boil then mix in the pecans. Remove it from the heat and stir until the mix thickens. Scoop spoonfuls onto your greased or parchment-lined baking tray. Allow it to cool before experimenting with chocolate drizzle. To melt chocolate, use the double boiler method. The steam from the boiling water helps slowly melt the chocolate instead of burning it. Once the pecan candy has cooled down, drizzle the patty-shaped candies with your melted chocolate. For an extra-sweet kick, sprinkle powdered sugar over them. Enjoy!

Pecan Candy Recipe

For pecan candy or pecan pralines, you have some nut-prep options. Once the pecans are toasted, you can choose to chop the pecans or crush them. Dried pecan nuts are used in classic pecan candy recipes.

Ingredients:

2 cups of toasted pecans

½ cup of brown sugar

1 ½ cup of granulated sugar

3 tablespoons of dark corn syrup

1 cup of milk (skim, 1 or 2%, or whole)

4 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

½ teaspoon of salt

 

Directions:

Before cooking, prepare a baking sheet or tray lined with parchment paper.

 Use a heavy-duty saucepan over low-to-medium heat. Add the sugars, syrup, and milk, consistently stirring until the sugars dissolve.

  1. Allow the mixture to boil. Continue to let it boil until it has a thick, yet slightly syrupy consistency like that of candy. At this stage, you can use your candy thermometer to check if the candy mixture is at least 240 degrees Fahrenheit. No candy thermometer? Try the cold water method to check if the candy is ready. Just scoop a spoonful of the mixture and drop it into some cold water. If it starts to form a small ball-like shape, it’s ready. If it doesn’t, let it boil a little longer.
  2. Once it’s reached the proper temperature, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the butter, toasted pecans, vanilla, and salt. Make sure to stir it until the mixture thickens. The process could take anywhere between 2 to 3 minutes. Careful not to burn yourself with these steps. The candy will be scalding.
  3. As soon as the mixture has thickened, scoop tablespoons of it onto the lined baking sheet. The amount you come up with depends on how big the spoonfuls are.
  4. Allow the mounds of gooey pecan candy to settle and cool. This step gives them a chance to form into those patty-like pecan pralines. Be sure to let them cool down and get firm before taste-testing.

 

If you aren’t eating them right away, make sure they are completely cooled down before storing them in an airtight container. You can save them in your refrigerator or freezer for about 3 weeks before they begin to lose that fresh candied consistency.

One of the great things about Millican pecan pralines is they are gluten-free. Gluten is the name for certain proteins that are found in whole-grain products such as wheat, rye, and barley. Some people may be allergic to gluten and consuming it could cause them some digestive stress. Raw pecans are gluten-free and can be used for your pecan praline recipes.

Praline Candy

Making praline candy, commonly referred to as praline pecans, requires some focus and finesse around the stove. Pralines are homemade candies made with sugars and nuts. Today, pecan nuts are typically expected, but that wasn’t always the case. Since pralines originated in France, where pecan trees do not grow, they used almonds and hazelnuts. You can still use those nuts to make praline candy, but pecans have become the first choice in many praline recipes.

New Orleans Pralines

How did pralines become so popular in the south? Well, pecans are a popular southern nut, so it’s no wonder candied pecans like pecan pralines rose to the top of the favorites list. It’s said when French people moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, they brought traditional recipes with them. Praline was a classic recipe that involved sugar and crushed or ground nuts. Essentially, it was a nutty-flavored sweet treat. What made pecan pralines so popular amongst the French in New Orleans was that the area they now lived in was full of pecan trees and sugar cane. What better way to adapt a traditional recipe than by incorporating the pecan nut?  Pecan trees didn’t grow in France or any part of Europe, which only made pecan pralines that much more interesting.

Southern Candies

It might be difficult to figure out what the difference is between pecan candy, praline candy, praline pecans, and pecan pralines. It can be confusing, especially when similar ingredients are used for all of them. Fortunately, you can ask any southern baker to help explain what makes each type of treat unique.

In the south, fans of traditional treats understand the subtle differences. Pecan pralines, for instance, are generally made using pecans, sugar, butter, and cream. The pecans can be whole, halved, or chopped. Pecan pralines are typically patty-shaped because you allow them to freeform by spooning hefty, individual piles onto wax paper. There, they freeform, meaning you don’t have to roll them, shape them, or cut them out with any baking tools. Just plop them down and let them cool. Once they’re solidified, you can store them in the fridge for later or freeze them for an upcoming event. For the best, creamiest results, try to consume them within three weeks. Pecan pralines don’t go bad after three weeks, but they do get harder to chew. All in all, they’re still delicious pieces of candy that won’t disappoint.

Praline pecans are not patty-shaped. Instead, that praline flavoring is used to coat individual pecan nuts. The preparation is similar, however, in pecan pralines, the nuts get mixed into the boiling praline ingredients. For praline pecans, they stay separated. You lay the pecan nuts out, whole or halved, on wax paper. When the praline mixture is complete, you pour it over the pecan nuts and toss them. As soon as each pecan is evenly coated, allow it to cool. From there, simply pour them into a serving bowl and the bite-size praline pecans are ready to snack on.

New Orleans Praline Recipe

For a taste of traditional New Orleans-style Pralines, try this recipe.

Ingredients:

 2 cups of chopped pecans

1 cup of brown sugar

1 ¼ cup of granulated sugar

½ cup of half and half creamer

8 tbsp of unsalted butter

1 tbsp of vanilla extract

 

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

 

1 . Mix the sugars, butter, and half & half in a saucepan over medium-to-low heat.

  1. Heat the mixture to the candy temperature.
  2. Let it sit over heat for 4-5 minutes then stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. Remove it from the heat and combine the pecans, continuously stirring until the candy mixture thickens.
  4. As soon as it thickens, quickly scoop tablespoon fulls on the lined cookie sheet. Each mound will settle into a patty shape as it cools. Allow the praline candy to completely cool down before serving or storing.

Easy Recipe for Pralines

For more pecan praline goodness, check out these easy-to-follow recipes.

Pecan candy with brown sugar

Ingredients:

 2 cups of toasted pecans

1 ½ cup of brown sugar

½ cup of granulated sugar

3 tbsp of molasses

¼ cup of mini-marshmallows

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp of butter

½ tsp of vanilla extract

 

Directions:

 Before cooking, prepare a baking sheet or tray lined with parchment paper.

 1.Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-to-low heat and add the sugars, molasses, and cream. Stir until the sugars dissolve.

  1. Bring it to a boil. Continue to let it boil until it thickens. Use a candy thermometer or the cold water trick to tell if the mixture is done.
  2. When it’s reached the right temperature or thickness, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the butter, mini-marshmallows, roasted pecans, vanilla, and salt. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
  3. Scoop tablespoons of it onto the lined tray.
  4. Let it completely cool down and get firm before serving or storing.

Recipe for pecan candy with condensed milk

Ingredients:

 

2 cups of roasted crushed or chopped pecans

1 ½ cup of brown sugar

1 ½ cup of granulated sugar

3 tbsp of light corn syrup

½ cup of evaporated or condensed milk

2 tbsp of butter

½ tsp of vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

 

Directions:

 

Before cooking, prepare a baking sheet or tray lined with parchment paper.

 

  1. Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low-to-medium heat. Add the brown sugar, molasses, and cream. Stir until the sugars dissolve.
  2. Bring it to a boil. Continue to let it boil until it thickens. Use a candy thermometer or the cold water trick to tell if the mixture is done.
  3. When it’s reached the right temperature or thickness, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the butter, roasted pecans, vanilla, and salt. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
  4. Scoop tablespoons of it onto the lined tray.
  5. Let it completely cool down before serving or storing.

Pecan Praline Cookies

Ingredients:

 1 cup of finely chopped or crushed roasted pecans

1 cup of whole or halved pecans

1 cup of packed brown sugar

½ cup of granulated sugar

⅓ cup of granulated sugar

2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup of room temperature butter

2 eggs

2 tbsp water

 

Directions:

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper or use non–stick cooking spray. Line another tray with parchment paper for the praline mixture.

 1.  Mix the water and ⅓ cup of sugar in a heavy-duty saucepan over medium-to-low heat. Cook until it boils, constantly stirring it until the mix becomes a syrupy, golden brown. Remove it from the heat and combine 1 cup of crushed pecans. Pour mixture onto a parchment-lined tray. Once it’s completely cooled down, break it into chunks and put it in a sandwich bag. Use a kitchen mallet or rolling pin to crush it into small pieces. Put it aside.

  1. Mix the butter and the rest of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add an egg at a time, beating each one until well-combined. Add the vanilla and blend well. Stir in the flour and baking soda until well-mixed. Fold in the pecan praline and combine it well.
  2. Use a tablespoon to scoop dough onto the cookie sheet. Place a whole pecan or pecan half in the center of each dough mound. Bake it for 13 to 15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are slightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool before serving. Bon Appetit!

Creamy Praline Recipe

Ingredients:

 

2 cups of chopped toasted pecans

1 cup of light brown sugar

½ cup of granulated sugar

⅓ tsp of salt

5 tbsp of unsalted butter

½ cup of heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp of water

 

Directions:

 

  1. Use a saucepan with a heavy bottom and combine the salt, sugars, water, cream, and butter over low heat.
  2. Continuously stir until the sugars completely dissolve, then add the pecans.
  3. Cook over medium-to-low heat, stirring until the candy mixture reaches at least 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Remove it from the heat and stir until the mixture thickens.
  5. Scoop spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking tray and allow it to cool. Once they’re firm, they’re ready to serve or be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

 

Whether you’re making praline pecans or pecan pralines, always make sure you have plenty of ingredients. This means investing in some fresh pecans for your pantry. If you don’t have the time, no worries. Check out Millican Pecan’s variety of pecan candies and treats.