Take a walk around the Holy City and chances are your senses will lead you to the sweet scent of pralines wafting down the street.
The diplomat had Praslin in his name, which is where the treats’ name comes from, legend has it.
Some say the chef stumbled upon his apprentice just as he knocked over a container of almonds into a vat cooking caramel. Others claim Praslin asked his personal chef to create an irresistible treat that ladies would not be able to deny. He packaged the sugary nuts into little parcels marked with his name, and the name pralines stuck.
In America, pralines first came to Louisiana from the French in the early to mid 1700’s. Almonds were in short supply in the area, and the nut was substituted with pecans, which are local to the region.
Whatever the story, the praline is a sweet confection of pecans and sugar that we can’t get enough of in the South. Pecan pralines spread rapidly throughout the port city of New Orleans and quickly to other Southern cities like Charleston, becoming a popular treat.
We asked Executive Pastry Chef Chris Ryan of Belmond Charleston Place to share his traditional recipe for this Southern indulgence. These sugary, nutty sweets are the perfect treat to make when you’re missing Charleston.
Chef Ryan’s Traditional Pecan Praline Recipe
|Butter, unsalted||4 tablespoons|
|Heavy cream||½ cup|
|Bourbon (or liquor of choice)||Splash|
|Granulated (white) sugar||½ pound|
|Brown sugar||½ pound|
|Pecans, pieces||1 pound|
Combine all ingredients except pecans in a pot, with liquid ingredients in bottom of pot. Cook over high heat. Once ingredients come to a boil, bake pecans in oven at 350 degrees to toast for approximately 8 minutes. Using a candy thermometer, measure praline mix temperature. Remove from heat when mixture reaches 240 degrees. Add pecans to pot. Stir lightly. Use wooden spoon or ice cream scoop to portion pralines onto parchment paper. Allow pralines to cool.
Tip: If you have a sweet tooth and are visiting Charleston, pick up a pound of your favorite pralines from one of the local candy shops and take a piece of the South home with you!