Creamy Pralines are a traditional Southern candy to make during the Christmas season.
One of the most popular posts on my blog especially during the holidays is my New Orleans Praline recipe. They are delicious. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I changed the recipe. I swapped out the whole milk for buttermilk. The Buttermilk Pecan Pralines turn out to be the best Pralines I have ever had.
History Of Pralines
Pralines were a popular candy brought to New Orleans from the French. They are a sugary, creamy, pecan candy. They were originally made using almonds, but almonds in New Orleans were difficult to get. Cooks began substituting the local nuts from the Louisiana pecan trees. Pralinières would make and sell their sugary treats in the French Quarter for income. Because New Orleans was a port city, Pralines were spread all over the country.
Praline pecans were known as individual pecans covered in the sugary candy coating. Consequently, they are much easier to make than pralines. You can see my praline pecans here.
This post on Buttermilk Pecan Pralines will give you step by step instructions and helpful tips for making pralines.
Pralines Taste Better Than Ever
I have been making Pralines for decades, but I learned something new that makes them taste even better. The Pralines I made with buttermilk this week was fantastic. They were also more creamy and had a delicious tangy taste. Because my Praline post is the most popular post on my blog during the holidays, I could not wait to let you know about my buttermilk experience.
Secret Is Buttermilk
Buttermilk is the secret used in most Southern baked goods. It helps to make the moistest and best flavor sweets. It is difficult to describe the flavor. When buttermilk mixes with sugar, it is sweet with a tiny tang. You are going to have to trust me about how delicious it makes everything taste. I know it is the secret to many of my favorite recipes. You can find the links to my favorites below.
- CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE
- SOUTHERN FUDGY COCA-COLA CAKE
- CHESS PIE A SOUTHERN FAVORITE!
- SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK PIE
- BUTTERMILK PANCAKES
- SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD
WORLD FOOD CHAMPIONSHIPS
In November 2017, I had a fantastic opportunity to compete at the World Food Championships in desserts. The competitors were the best of the best including professional chefs, professional teams, and home cooks. I knew I needed some secret ingredients. One ingredient that I used for my Pumpkin Praline Stack Cake is pralines. During the competition, I would not have enough time to make homemade candy. I remembered eating the best pralines as a child, teenager and young adult was from Tanner’s in my hometown of Mobile, Alabama.
In the picture below, I am holding my second round dessert at the World Food Championships, Pumpkin Praline Stack Cake. It did well enough for me to finish in first place after the first and second round of the competition.
Tanner’s Pecans and Candies
On my way to the World Food Championships, I had to go right through my home, Mobile, Alabama. It is a nine-hour drive, so we left super early in the morning hoping to get to Tanner’s before they closed at 3:00 p.m. We arrived at ten minutes before 3:00 p.m. and the doors were locked. My heart sank! As I read the hours on their front door, I noticed they had a phone number printed there too. I quickly called them. They were more than happy to let me in. I purchased my pralines and was on my way.
Eating A Tanner’s Pecan Praline
After driving off, I quickly opened a Praline. It had been a long time since I had a Tanner’s Pecan Praline and wanted to see why I thought it was the best.
After taking one bite of the incredibly creamy tangy praline, I screamed out buttermilk. I flip the package over on the back to read the ingredients. Sure enough, Tanner’s Pecan Pralines are made with buttermilk.
After My First And Second Rounds At The World Food Championships
After my first and second rounds at The World Food Championships, I was in first place. I was not only in first, but I had a perfect score on my first dessert. My second dessert, Pumpkin Praline Stack Cake, did exceptionally well too. Tanner’s Pecan Pralines played a part in my win.
STEP 1: Before You Start Cooking Buttermilk Pecan Pralines
Before starting to cook, lay out a piece of parchment, aluminum foil, or a silicone mat to drop the pralines. Set another spoon nearby in case you need to scrape the candy off the first spoon.
My favorite way to drop pralines is into muffin tins sprayed with a cooking spray. They come out perfectly round. Be careful not to drop more than about a tablespoon of praline syrup. Your pralines will be too thick.
STEP 2: Use A Large Dutch Oven
Combine all the ingredients in a large dutch oven. Candy makers will tell you that Cast Iron Dutch Oven cannot be beaten and I love using my Cast Iron Dutch Oven. With that being said, I used my new Gotham Steel pot to make these pralines and loved it. It is genuinely non-stick with helps a lot, especially with clean up.
Do not use a smaller pan as the syrup will bubble up during cooking. It’s also harder to stir in a smaller pan.
STEP 3: Cook the Buttermilk, Sugar and Brown Sugar
Cook the syrup over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally but watching constantly. I do not leave the stove when cooking pralines. When it comes to a boil, start stirring constantly. Let it boil for about 3 minutes until the syrup registers 235°f – 240°F on a candy thermometer.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING!
I like my Pralines to reach 236 to 237 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Make sure your candy thermometer is not touching the bottom nor the sides of your pot. Hold it for a second to test the center of the candy. If you go all the way up to 240 degrees F, you will have to work extremely fast before the candy get too hard, and it will not be as creamy.
Remove Buttermilk Pralines From The Heat
Remove the pan from heat immediately and keep stirring and stir in the pecans and butter. Stir, stir, stir! Typically it will take about 100 stirs before the pralines become creamy, cloudy, and start to thicken. When you feel it starting to get grainy, work fast your time is running out to get a creamy praline.
You can also hear it if you listen closely; the crystals will make a scraping noise against the side of the pan.
Quickly add pure vanilla to your praline syrup and stir fast.
Drop Your Pralines
Drop spoonfuls of the praline syrup onto your waiting parchment or cupcake tins. WORK QUICKLY, yes, I am shouting at you! The syrup starts to set as it cools. Let the pralines cool and harden for at least ten minutes before eating.
They will keep in an airtight container for several days. I like to freeze them to use on almost all of my desserts.
TOP YOUR FAVORITE DESSERTS WITH PRALINES
I love to break them up and layer them in my banana pudding. I also like to add Pralines to top off cheesecake or most any other dessert for a lovely presentation. The other way we enjoy pralines is to crumble some in a bowl of ice cream. They kick up any dessert.
*Please be extremely careful when cooking candy. It can be dangerous if it gets on your skin. It is an excellent idea to keep children and animals out of the kitchen while cooking candy.
Original Praline Recipe – Adapted from New Orleans Classic Desserts by Kit Wohl.
BUTTERMILK PECAN PRALINES
- Warm milk in a cast-iron dutch oven or a large pot.
- Add sugar, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt.
- YOU NEED A CANY THERMOMETER THAT IS ACCURATE
- Cook until it reaches 235 to 240 degrees “soft-ball stage”. A good way to text “soft-ball” stage without a thermometer is to drop a small amount, a couple of drops of the candy, into cold water it will form a softball.
- Stir almost constantly to prevent sticking and burning. If the candy burns, you have to start over. If you are using a thermometer attached to the side of the pot, make sure that it does not sit on the bottom of the pot. You will not get a correct reading.
- Once the candy reaches 235 to 240 degrees, remove from the heat.
- Next, add the butter and pecans.
- Next, stir the candy about 100 strokes to incorporate the pecans.
- Add Vanilla
- Spoon the candy about 1 to 2 TB size onto a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.
- Spoon quickly before the candy starts to harden.
- Allow them to cool and dry.
- Then, carefully turn them over to dry the other side.
- Store them in an airtight container or wrap each one in plastic wrap. You can layer them in a plastic container with parchment paper or wax paper between them and freeze them.
- Pralines will cool and harden in 10 to 15 minutes.
- They will last for months in the freezer.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING!
TIP: Candy ThermometerI like my Pralines to reach 236 to 237 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Make sure your candy thermometer is not touching the bottom nor the sides of your pot. Hold it for a second to test the center of the candy. If you go all the way up to 240 degrees F, you will have to work extremely fast before the candy get too hard, and it will not be as creamy. Drop the pralines fast. They begin to thicken up and harden as soon as you remove them from the stove. They will harden in 10 to 15 minutes.
More Delicious Candy recipes
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If you have ever wanted to learn how to make New Orleans Pralines, I am going to teach you how.
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