Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Prayers answered with pralines

My friend Ray Laskowitz is a marvelous chronicler of the street life of New Orleans, capturing not only the color but the mood with his camera. (You can view his work on his website, laskowitzpictures.org.) I love his work, but I can't look at any scene from that city without thinking about food.

One of the simplest pleasures of New Orleans is the praline. It's pronounced prah-leen, not pray-lean or rhyming with fraulein. And it's made with pecans. That's pah-cons, not pea-cans.

Now that we have that straight, here's a good recipe for them. I've tried ones made with cream, but they're a little too caramel-y, and ones that just have sugar and butter are too sugary. This recipe came out just like the ones that I first bought on the street more than 30 years ago.

Lori K's New Orleans Pralines

Ingredients
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
2 ½ cups pecans, halved
1 tablespoon butter

Instructions
Combine sugars and milk in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until mixture forms a thick syrup. If the mixture separates, whisk until smooth again.

Add pecans and butter and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes.

Remove sauce pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

Use a tablespoon to drop rounded balls of the mixture onto sheet wax paper or foil, leaving about 3 inches between each ball for pralines to spread. Work quickly to get all of them made before the mixture starts to harden. Allow to cool.

Makes about 24 candies.