Bring a delicious and classic sweet treat to your holiday traditions and make these New Orleans pecan pralines. They’re large pecans combined with a rich mixture made up of sugar and evaporated milk. Extremely easy with few ingredients, this candy makes a great gift or platter for all your holiday needs.
I just love it when the holidays start to roll around because it means you get to pull out all those old and tested holiday recipes. At every party, the desserts, cookie platters, and candy platters are the real MVPs. Everyone flocks to them constantly throughout the night and they’re picked clean by the time everyone heads out the door. Christmas definitely wouldn’t be the same without them. I love making those platters. My Sugar Cookies with Icing are always a huge hit along with these pecan pralines, and they often end up taking up most of the platters.
What Are Pralines?
A praline is basically the same kind of candy across the board. Sugar is usually cooked down and mixed with nuts, before being placed in piles and left to harden. Every once in a while they might be used with other recipes, but they’re more commonly a stand-alone treat. They will remind you of peanut brittle, just a little different in taste and texture due to the different ingredients used.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe…
I made pralines several times. The first time I used heavy cream but I prefer using evaporated milk. Evaporated milk has a much more intense milky flavor and I love it. It almost gives it a sweetened condensed flavor. I also used salted butter and not as much sugar as most praline recipes call for. Although pralines are supposed to be on the sweeter side I wanted these to be perfect and not overly sweet.
How To Make
- Prep – Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on a large, flat, clean surface.
- Start the praline mixture – Combine the evaporated milk and both sugars in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until about 235 degrees is reached.
- Finish the mixture – Remove from heat. Add the pecans and vanilla, stirring until the mixture thickens.
- Harden – Scoop small piles onto the prepared parchment paper and let sit untouched for about 10 minutes or until hardened. Enjoy!
Top Tips For The Perfect Pecan Pralines
- No candy thermometer – If you don’t have a candy thermometer, it’s not ideal, but not impossible. Simply take a dab of the mixture and drop it in cold water. If it balls up to where you can remove it from the water and it’s clumped up, you’ve hit the softball stage, and you’re good to move on to the next step.
- Use super cold butter – Keeping the butter super cold before placing it in the mixture to melt is the best way to go. This will cool the mixture down considerably, cutting down on the thickening time. It also allows the butter to melt slower so only a bit is mixed in at a time.
- Why are the pralines grainy? – This means you didn’t cook your mixture long enough or you cooked it too long. If you don’t reach 235 degrees at minimum or the soft ball stage, you will end up with a grainy texture.
- Why are my pralines runny? – This most likely means you didn’t cook it long enough. It has to reach a certain temperature in order for it to solidify. If that temperature isn’t reached, you can have grainy candy or candy that doesn’t harden up correctly.
- Make sure pecans are in every piece of candy – When scooping out the mixture, be sure that pecans get into each pile you place on the parchment paper. Although the toffee-like mixture is delicious on its own, it’s even better with those pecans included.
- Pantry – Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- Fridge – Store, covered in the fridge for up to two weeks.
- Freezer – Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Reheating – Do not forcibly reheat these pralines. You’ll want to let them come to an edible temperature on their own.
New Orleans Pecan Pralines
- Candy Thermometer
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 4 tbsp salted butter cold
- 2 cups pecans
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Add the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and evaporated milk to a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. Stir constantly.
- Once the candy thermometer reaches 236 degrees F. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and pecans. Stir for about 2-3 minutes.
- Drop about 1-2 tbsp of the pecan mixture onto a lined baking sheet with parchment paper.
- This recipe should make about 16 pralines. Let the pralines sit for about 10 minutes before enjoying.