Dec 20, 201209:34 AMThe Telegraph
The Premier Blog of the West
A Holiday Recipe: Brennan’s Of Houston’s New Orleans-Style Pralines
Pecans are more than for making deliciously sweet and sticky pecan pie. Brennan's of Houston in Texas turns them into magical prailines. Now, you can too with their recipe for Brennan’s New Orleans-Style Pralines (pictured). Read it below, complete with notes from the chef, and try your hand at it next week.
We describe our pralines as (1) a sinfully creamy confection of sugar, cream and chopped pecans; (2) always found in large quantities at the front door; (3) typically transported in the hands and pockets of Brennan’s of Houston patrons (always for “someone else”); (4) believed by those who consume them to have a very low calorie content; and (5) commonly referred to as “pray-leens” in Texas. If you have any doubts after knowing all that, then let us just say we bet this is where heaven gets its pralines.
The ingredients are simple enough; it’s the cooking procedure that’s tricky. Here are a few things to watch for so that your praline experience is successful.
Don’t let the cream boil over like I did at the recipe editor’s house when we were testing the recipe again, trying to get an accurate temperature reading. Use a heavy whisk or wooden spoon to stir the mixture. Have parchment lined cookie sheets or trays and dessert spoons ready; there is no time to do this once you start.
Stir almost constantly once the cream starts to reduce. That’s when the creamy sugar will start sticking to the bottom of the pan. The more you stir the bottom and keep the mixture from sticking, the lighter in color the pralines will be. So, some caramelizing is good; it’s the dark specks that you stir off the bottom that are bad. If you notice a few specks in your mixture and don't want speckled pralines, carefully transfer the hot mixture to a new pan to keep from starting over.
When they’re ready to take off the heat, only the “Pralinieres” know for sure. We take our best guess – the mixture should start to let go of the sides of the pan when you run your whisk or spoon around the edge. Test some small ones on one of the reserved trays. We don’t want them to run out flat and they shouldn’t have a very shiny finish on them. Remember this is caramelized sugar; it’s very hot and sticks to you – so be careful.
If all else fails, Brennan’s of Houston, will be happy to mail them to you for the current price, plus tax, shipping, and handling charges. We make about 800 daily and still blow it occasionally. So don’t be too hard on yourself if they’re not perfect the first time.
1 quart whipping cream
1 pound granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cups medium chopped pecans
Zest of 1 medium orange (optional)
Line 3 cookie sheets, preferably with parchment paper but wax paper will work. Also have dessert spoons close by to spoon the pralines onto parchment paper when its time.
In a large heavy saucepan, slowly simmer cream, sugar, corn syrup, and orange zest over low heat.
As cream mixture simmers, be careful of boil over in the early stages. Let mixture reduce, stirring occasionally.
When cream mixture first starts to stick to bottom of pan, you need to stir almost continuously until done.
As mixture reduces and the sugar starts to caramelize, the mixture becomes thicker and beings to turn light brown in color.
When mixture reaches the softball stage of 240 degrees, stir in pecans.
Continue stirring while looking for the point when mixture starts to pull away from sides of the pan.
Drop a small amount (size of a quarter) onto a lined cookie sheet. Look quickly to see if the praline runs out flat or holds a nice rounded top shape and if praline has a dull looking appearance.
Also, the mixture shouldn’t have an oily look while in the saucepan; that means the mixture cooked too long.
When ready, the mixture should be close to a firm-ball stage of 248 degrees. However, don’t depend entirely upon the candy thermometer.
Use two dessert spoons to spoon out the pralines onto lined cookie sheets. Use one spoon to dip up the hot mixture and the other one to push it off onto the paper.
If you’ve hit it just right, you should be able to pick up a delicious praline in about 30 minutes. It should appear dry and not be chewy. If after a couple of hours you can’t pick one up, leave them in a cool dry area on the pans for a day or maybe two so they will dry out.
When ready, transfer to an airtight container and store up to 1 week or ship off to your friends.