OK, here is the top-secret praline recipe that my father handed down to me (no, really!)…
- 1 cup regular sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
- 5 Tbs. water
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 Tbs. butter
These are just my personal tips for making sure the whole process goes smoothly.
- Arrange for some open counter-space where you are going to spoon out your pralines. Lay down a sheet of newspaper and then cover that with some wax-paper. The reason you do that is so that when you spoon the (very) hot praline mix onto the wax paper, it doesn’t leave waxy residue on your counter top!
- You want a bowl of cool water near where you are cooking so you can test the mix to know when it is ready.
Use a tablespoon-sized spoon to do the stirring because it is also the size tool you want to use to spoon out the mixture when it is done.
Combine the sugars and water in a pot and put on the stove at medium heat. Stir until it starts to boil then mix in the chopped pecans. Continue to stir the mix as it heats back up. It will start boiling again. You may want to back off the heat just a bit at that point so that things don’t happen to rapidly.
You want to be watching this mixture as it cooks and you keep stirring it. It will start to look less liquid on top and more “fluffy”. You want to start testing the mix to know when it reaches “soft ball stage.”
For the longest time I didn’t really understand what that meant. Soft-ball stage is when you take a small sample of the mix with your spoon. Hold the spoon over your bowl of cool water that you have close by and let a drop fall into the water. Soft-ball stage is when the drop of mixture stays whole and remains circular (almost spherical) when it settles in the bottom of the bowl.
AS SOON AS YOUR MIX REACHES SOFT-BALL STAGE….
Stir in the butter. As soon as the butter melts (and you may have to work quickly now, but carefully) you want to start spooning the mixture onto the wax paper that you have laid out.
Remember this stuff is really hot. Avoid the temptation to taste your handiwork until the pralines have cooled enough so that they don’t break up when you peel them off the wax paper. By the way, the best way to peel them off the wax paper is to lift up the paper and peel it away from the bottom of the praline as you support it with your other hand.