“How Not to Make Southern Pralines”
If you’ve been keeping up with my Christmas candy making, then you already know about my Southern Praline flop. I’ll tell you what I did wrong, so yours can turn out perfect. Okay, here’s the story. I only did one little thing wrong, but it was enough that I didn’t wind up with pralines.
Southern Pralines or How to Reclaim Failed Candy ( at least one kind)
Start by putting into a large pot 3 cups of brown sugar, packed down firmly. Add 1 cup cream and 2 tablespoons corn syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Stir over medium heat until combined.
Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. This should take about ten minutes.
Cook until a candy thermometer reads 234 (soft-ball stage) Boil for about ten to fifteen more minutes. (My candy thermometer isn’t working properly so I didn’t bother with it.) After ten minutes check for soft-ball stage by dropping a small amount into cold water.
Take it from the heat and add 1/4 cup butter. Do not stir.
Allow the pan of syrup to cool to 150F, if using a candy thermometer. (It has cooled enough to work with when you can put your hand on the bottom of the pan without having to quickly remove it, but the pan is still warm.) The recipe said it would take about 35 minutes to cool.
Now here is where I made my big, big mistake. I set a timer for 35 minutes and went off to do something else. (Why? WHY didn’t I think that my house is cooler than a normal house and that it wouldn’t take that long. Why?) When the timer rang, I came back to the kitchen and my syrup had cooled too much, so much that when I added the 1 & 1/4 teaspoons vanilla and the 2 cups of chopped pecans, I could barely stir it.
The instructions said to beat until glossy about 5-7 minutes. 😦 I knew if I left it that long, it would stick to the pan, so I stirred it in and dropped it by teaspoons onto wax paper, but the sticky little plops weren’t going to harden. I could see that. What a waste of good ingredients. What to do? Then I remembered what I had read about fixing cooked fudge that didn’t harden. I raked up all the little sticky plops into one big sticky ball.
I buttered the middle of another cookie sheet, buttered my hands well, and kneaded the sticky mess. I had to re-butter my hands and the sheet, but I kept kneading it, like bread dough, until it lost its stickiness. Then I pushed the ball into a buttered 9-inch square pan patted it down and let it sit for a couple of hours.
So, even though I didn’t make out with the pralines, I didn’t have to throw it out, either. I used some red plastic wrap and wrapped them individually.
If you want to try making Southern pralines, here’s the recipe:
(And if you like reading magical fantasy about the struggle between good and evil, try my book, A Singular Gift!)
3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
2 coups chopped pecans
1 & 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring brown sugar, cream, corn syrup , and salt to a boil, stirring constantly. This should take about 10 minutes. Continue to stir and boil another 10 to 15 minutes. Cook to 234F , which is soft-ball stage. Test for doneness by dropping a small amount of syrup into a cup of cold water until a ball can be made with your fingers, that does not flatten out.
Remove from heat; add the butter but do not stir. Cool until candy is 150F or until you can place your hand on the bottom of the still warm pan without discomfort. Stir in the pecans and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon until candy begins to thicken and is glossy, about 5-7 minutes. Quickly drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. Spread to form 2-in patties. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3-4 dozen pralines.