During the 17th century, a French Diplomat named Cesar De Plessis-Praslin, had his personal chef create a candy as a calling card to give to the women he was courting. The sweet nuts were put into little parcels bearing his name which is why people started calling the candy after him. It was delightfully received by all and soon became a very popular confection.
The recipe was simply almonds in caramelized sugar. When French colonists settled in Louisiana, the almonds were replaced with the local and plentiful pecan. The Creoles added cream … and the rest is culinary history.
Pralinières were the women who used to sell pralines on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans during the mid-to-late 19th century, providing a unique entrepreneurial opportunity to les gens de couleur libres (free people of color). Not only was being a pralinière a source of income, it was more importantly a means of providing for oneself without any strings attached. This was a rare situation for economically less-fortunate, but resourceful women of that time period, who were often employed as indentured servants or forced by need and without choice into plaçage, as kept-women of wealthy businessmen.
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2/3 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups pecans
Before you begin making the pralines, it’s a good idea to get things set up.
You will need to work quickly before the candy hardens so cover a baking sheet or large cutting board with parchment paper. (This will be used to put the hot pralines on). Then measure out the butter, vanilla and pecans.
Grab the candy thermometer and we are ready to go.
In a large saucepan, combine sugar, whipping cream and corn syrup.
Stir over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils.
Reduce heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Uncover, boil to 238*.
Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla. cool to lukewarm.
Beat with a wooden spoon until it losses it’s gloss. Stir in pecans.
Drop mixture from spoon into small rounds on the parchment paper.They should spread out.
Makes approximately 12 pralines. *If you would like more than 12, make additional batches.
I would NOT double the recipe because the candy will harden before you are able to make them all.