Happy Father’s Day to all those Daddy’s out there—especially mine! Now, before you get confused, let me break down my reasoning for what I’m making today. No, it’s not a beer can chicken or perfectly glazed ribs. In fact, it’s not something that I’m sure my dad would ever request. Why the anti-dad recipe? Well, if you scroll back to mother’s day, you’ll find there is no I-love-you-mom recipe because it was my dad’s birthday a few days before and we still had half a delicious red velvet cake leftover. I promised my mom that we’d celebrate her special day down the road. And what better way to prove love for my mama than making her favorite dish on Father’s day?
Ever since I can remember, on my mom’s birthday we’ve gotten the Pralines and Cream Ice Cream Pie from Baskin Robbins. Ever since I can remember, I’ve moaned and griped about it. I don’t typically like nuts in my desserts, and I especially hate nuts in or on my ice cream. Needless to say, I was never a happy camper come October 8th. I begrudgingly sang the Happy Birthday Song and picked at the caramel layer on pie that I despised oh so much. Grin and bear it, I’d think. It wasn’t my birthday, after all.
Well, this Febuary, my friends and I took an impromptu trip to Nawlins. New OrLEENS to you tourists, of course. I had the BEST praline of my life. It happened to be the only praline of my life, but that’s neither here nor there. I don’t know whether it was the festive jazz music, the sight of the Missipi’ or the smell of caramel-y treats, but the first bite I took was heavenly. Absolutely heavenly. I’m a convert on the spot.
So, for this father’s day, I tackled the Nawlin’s Pecan Praline, and for my first try, I think I did pretty well. It is crumbly, sweet, nutty and warm. It tastes like love, for lack of a better term. The melted sugars create this rich caramel flavor while the toasted pecans add crunch and texture to this candy. This recipe only required six ingredients, but it does take a little time and concentration. My ADD kicked in a little and I almost burned the mixture. I would have been so sad.
Also, you must must must have a candy thermometer. Mine is probably from the 70s, and I think it’s seen better days. I think the reason why my pralines don't look as smooth as your average recipe is because of my thermometer, so really, get one! Although, my crumbly candies make for a better ice cream topping, see?
All that aside, this is how I did it (adapted from About.com)
What ya need:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 tbsp butter, cubed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
What ya do:
1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a medium saucepan combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and evaporated milk over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then insert a candy thermometer.
3. Cook the candy, stirring occasionally, until the candy reaches 240 degrees on the thermometer.
4. Once the proper temperature is reached, remove the pan from the heat and drop the chunks of butter on top, but do not stir. Allow the pan to sit for one minute.
5. After a minute, add the vanilla extract and the pecans, and begin to stir smoothly and constantly with a wooden spoon. Soon the candy will begin to get thicker and lighter in color.
6. Continue to stir until the candy starts to hold its shape. It should still be easy to stir, however. It is important not to stir too much, as pralines quickly go from fluid to rock-solid. Once it is a lighter, opaque brown and holds its shape, quickly begin to drop small spoonfuls of the candy onto the prepared baking sheet.
7. Work quickly to form the candies, as the pralines will start to set in the saucepan. If the candy stiffens before you’re done scooping, add a spoonful of very hot water and stir until it loosens, then continue scooping until you have formed all the pralines.
8. Allow the candy to fully set at room temperature, for about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.