More than eleven years ago, long before Paul and I had kids, we took a trip to New Orleans for our five year wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful trip, and one of the fun things we did while there was go to a cooking class.
The chef was a very large man, who made gumbo, jambalaya, and Creole pralines. Everything was wonderful. I remember during the class a lady raising her hand and asking, "Are you using whole milk in that? Could I use skim?" and he replied with great mirth, "DO I LOOK LIKE I USE SKIM MILK?!? If you want it to taste good, you use whole!" and the whole class laughed.
I saved the recipes that we made in the class all these years, even though I have never recreated them at home. But after my recent success with the candy thermometer in making English toffee, I decided I was ready to attempt the pralines. I poured myself a glass of white wine and rolled up my sleeves.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
6 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients and bring to a "softball stage" of 238-240 degrees, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir until mixture thickens, becomes creamy and cloudy, and pecans stay suspended in mixture (I think this took me longer than expected - maybe 8 minutes or so). Spoon out on buttered wax paper.
Makes 1-50 pralines, depending on size.
I was pleased these turned out. I took them the next day when I volunteered with Barn Cat Buddies to help make raffle baskets for their upcoming fundraiser. They were quite a hit! Maybe next I'll try my hand at the jambalaya. I make jambalaya frequently, but have never tried the version from the cooking class.