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Pralines
Delicious on its own, this traditional New Orleans confection also makes a wonderful addition to pancakes (see related recipe at left).

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a heavy 2 1/2- to 3-quart saucepan, combine the granulated and brown sugars, then add the cream, butter and salt. Set over very low heat and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the sugar is dissolved, 10 to 15 minutes. As the mixture cooks, use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wash down any sugar crystals that form on the inside of the pan.

Clamp a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Boil the syrup, undisturbed, until it registers 235° to 240°F and a teaspoon of syrup dropped into a small bowl of cold water holds a very soft ball when pressed between your fingers, 3 to 6 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, leaving the thermometer in place, and let cool, undisturbed, until the syrup registers 220°F, 1 to 3 minutes. Using a clean, dry wooden spoon, stir in the baking soda and vanilla until well combined; the mixture will become lighter in color and foamy in texture. Then stir in the pecan halves.

Working quickly, drop the candy by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour. Serve the pralines immediately, or store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Makes 24 pralines.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.