French settlers brought a love for pralines with them to Louisiana in the 18th and 19th centuries. Faced with an abundance of pecan trees, they modified the traditional recipes, replacing hazelnuts and almonds with the indigenous American nut. When chefs in Louisiana began to add cream to the boiling sugar mixture, the candies acquired their unmistakable soft, fudge-like texture. Scholars estimate that vendors began to sell pralines on the streets of New Orleans in the 1860s. Since then, the candy has become a Southern staple, popular in Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, and elsewhere.
Louisiana Pecan Pralines
- 4-foot length of parchment paper
- Candy thermometer
- Heavy-bottomed saucepan
- 2½ cups Light brown sugar
- 1 cup Heavy cream
- 4 tbsp Butter, salted
- 2 tbsp Water
- 2 cup Shelled pecan halves
- Line a clean work surface with a 4-foot length of parchment paper. Put sugar, cream, butter, and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring and bring to a boil.
- Continue cooking until syrup reaches 238°F (114°C) on a candy thermometer Remove from heat, add pecans, and stir vigorously for 1 minute. Working quickly, drop mixture onto parchment 1 heaping tbsp at a time. Allow to cool completely and then remove the solidified pralines from the paper. Serve right away, store at room temperature or freeze in an airtight container.