While strolling the streets in the famous French Quarter of New Orleans, you’ll not only find fabulous restaurants and live music, you’ll also find a dozen or so candy kitchens with employees making their versions of the famous Cajun Pecan Pralines behind glass windows so tourists can watch. The smell is divine, and the taste is even better; most give out samples to entice customers. Unfortunately the pralines are quite expensive, and unless you happen to be visiting New Orleans, you’ll have to make them at home to get them really fresh. Actually, Cajun Pecan Pralines aren’t difficult to make; they take a few minutes of constant stirring, however.
You can substitute favorite nuts such as hazelnuts, cashews, or peanuts in your home version, but pecans seem to be the most popular nut in pralines, and of course the most authentic. Toasting the pecans brings out their flavor; it can be easily done by spreading them on a baking sheet and baking them in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to smell good. The following recipe was adapted from one found in a favorite Cajun cookbook, The Little New Orleans Cookbook, by Gwen McKee, which I highly recommend for those who like to cook Cajun food. Her recipes are simple, straightforward, and delicious.
Cajun Pecan Pralines are perfect for Mardi Gras, or for snacks anytime. They look good on a buffet table or can be packed in boxes or fancy bags for gifts.
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole toasted pecans
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or waxed paper. Spray the parchment with non-stick spray.
- Mix the sugar, buttermilk, and baking soda in a large, very heavy, saucepan or Dutch oven.
- Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Uncover the pot and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until well mixed.
- Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture is a light brown, has thickened slightly, and a small amount of the mixture dropped from a spoon into a cup of ice water forms a soft ball when molded with fingers.
- During the cooking, it's a good idea to wash down the sides with a pastry brush and water to eliminate the possibility of any sugar crystals forming.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla and pecans, and continue stirring until the mixture is starting to thicken.
- Scoop tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
- Let the candy sit at room temperature until set.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or so.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 155 Calories from Fat 77
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 50% Protein 2% Carb. 48%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Cholesterol 11 mg
Sodium 84 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 17 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 3% Vitamin C 0% Calcium 0% Iron 1%