Whether you call it a praw-line, a pray-line, or just pecan candy, these delectable puddles of sweet joy are always a treat. Of course, some folks are as particular about which recipe is best as they are about how to pronounce 'praline'. In my case, I get very annoyed when I get a praline that is all puddle and no pecan, or a praline with a crumbly texture, or a praline that is all sugar and no depth. So I've pulled together a recipe where I highlight everything I love about this candy, because when I have a cheat day I want to enjoy it. Fully. I roast the pecans with a generous amount of cinnamon, brown the butter, and finish with a drizzle of dark chocolate. I don't puddle the candy, but instead coat the pecans so that their flavor isn't drowned out.
Because I use a higher ratio of pecans than in a typical recipe, you must work very fast when its time to spoon out the hot candy. I recommend that you have everything ready for the recipe before you start.
1 1/4 pecans, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons good ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups organic cane sugar
3/4 cup whole buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
pinch of fine kosher salt
1 cup good dark chocolate chips or chopped pieces
You will need: a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, a small saucepan, a heavy bottomed pot, a wooden spoon, a tablespoon, a candy thermometer or ice cold glass of water, and a baking sheet or marble slab lined with waxed paper.
First, Roast the pecans: Preheat an oven to 350F. In a small bowl toss the pecan pieces and ground cinnamon together. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place in the oven and roast for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes remove the baking sheet from the oven, toss the pecan pieces, and then roast for another 2-3 minutes. Do not let them burn. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Next, Brown the butter: Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat over low medium heat. Holding the handle of the saucepan, swirl the butter around until is starts to darken in color and smell a little toasty - about 2 minutes total. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Make the candy base: In a heavy bottom pan combine the sugar, buttermilk, cream, and baking soda. If you have a candy thermometer, clip it to the edge of the pot. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to keep from burning. As the liquid starts to thicken you will need to stir more.
Once it starts to thicken you can check to see if it is ready by dropping some of the liquid into the ice cold water - if it forms a soft ball it is done. If you have a candy thermometer, it will be ready when the temperature is between 235F to 245F. This process should take you about 20 minutes, give or take.
'Assemble' the praline: You will need to move quickly. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the salt, butter, and vanilla. Beat until thick an creamy, but don't beat too much or it will cool off. Next, stir in the pecans, and ensure each piece is coated. Drop by heaping tablespoon onto the waxed paper surface. If you don't work quickly enough the pralines will start to set in the pan and will be difficult to spoon out.
To finish: Let each praline cool completely. Then melt the chocolate in the microwave on high, heating in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is shiny and liquid - about 2 minutes total. Drizzle the chocolate over each praline. Let cool until the chocolate is hardened.
These treats make great gifts and party favors - I'm making 200 of them for a wedding this fall!