Buttermilk-Pecan Pralines

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You will be making these classic Southern pralines all year long.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins
Yield:
16 large pralines

New Orleans' favorite candy is a true marriage of old-world European tradition and Southern ingenuity. When the French settled New Orleans in the 1700s, they brought their version of pralines, a simple sweet made by cooking whole almonds with granulated sugar until they became crisp and caramelized. African-American cooks transformed the French treat by using abundant, native-grown pecans in place of the more costly almonds; they eventually stirred butter and milk or cream into the original recipe.

These innovative bakers created a new, richer, and more irresistible confection, and their pralines—simultaneously crunchy, creamy, fudgy, and sweet—have become a true American classic. For ease in shaping big, beautiful pralines, portion the mixture into paper baking cups, removing them once the candies are set.

Buttermilk-Pecan Pralines
Emily Laurae/Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar

  • 1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar

  • ½ cup whole buttermilk

  • ½ cup heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 ½ cups pecan halves, toasted

  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) bourbon, rum, or Tennessee whiskey

Directions

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (If using paper baking cups, place 16 cups on baking sheet or on a tray.)

  2. Stir together sugars, buttermilk, cream, corn syrup, and salt in a heavy, 2-quart saucepan; attach a candy thermometer to side of pan. Place pan over low; cook, stirring constantly, until sugars are melted and mixture is smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.

  3. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring mixture to a boil. Boil gently until the thermometer reaches 230°F to 235°F (soft-ball stage), 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool to 220°F, 6 to 8 minutes.

  4. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in butter and vanilla, stirring until mixture turns creamy and opaque. Stir in pecans and bourbon, and quickly spoon out ¼-cup portions onto prepared baking sheets or into paper baking cups.

  5. Let pralines stand until completely cool, about 1 hour. Serve immediately, or wrap each praline individually in wax paper or plastic wrap, and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

    Buttermilk-Pecan Pralines
    Emily Laurae/Southern Living
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