Thursday, November 4, 2010
Chewy Pecan Pralines
I've always loved the chewy pralines from El Fenix, even when we didn't make it there as often I would still crave the pralines. My folks are well aware of this, so I'd find the chewy treats in my stocking at Christmas, or my Dad would often pick up a few extras to save for me when I came over. I'm not really a fan of the other pralines, the non-chewy variety. They seem to have a somewhat gritty texture that for me just doesn't compare to the smooth, rich, caramel in the chewy praline.
For years I enjoyed these and each time carefully chewed and savored them, trying to pick out what I thought was likely cinnamon and vanilla added to the caramel. I knew I'd have to try to recreate these eventually. Finally the day arrived when I happened upon a chewy pralinette recipe in a mother's association cookbook. My adaptation is below:
Chewy Pecan Pralines
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c lite corn syrup
1 stick of butter
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c chopped pecans*
Cook the sugar and syrup over a medium high heat to 250 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted. Slowly add the cream until thoroughly blended (return to heat if needed).
Return to heat and bring the mixture to 242 degrees. The caramel should be a deep golden color. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, pecans, and cinnamon. Beat for 5-10 minutes until almost cool. Mixture should mound on the spoon but still be able to drop and be stirred easily. Drop (using 2 tablespoons) onto parchment. Allow pralines to cool completely before serving.
*its best to buy pecan halves and roughly chop them yourself. I've found that the pre-chopped variety are too finely chopped and don't yield the right texture in the finished product.
I was pretty pleased with how these turned out. A few friends tried them and remarked at how fresh tasting they were in comparison to the restaurant praline. I thought the caramel was a bit softer as well, and easier to chew. Another great thing about making these from scratch is that you can add as many pecans as you like and even portion them out into bite size pieces. Wrap any extras individually in a small square of plastic wrap and store in a cool place. They will keep for a week or more, although the pralines didn't last quite that long around here... I've already bought the makings for another batch.