New Orleans pralines are a classic southern-style candy that couldn’t be easier to make right in your own kitchen. It’s storied history dates back to the French colonial history of the American South, where, over time, local ingredients (like sugar) and creative modifications (adding cream) have given us the candy as we know it today. It’s one of those must-haves if you ever get the chance to visit the city of New Orleans, just to get a sense of how good these candies are. But, since we can’t make it down to the Big Easy today, we’ll settle for whipping up a batch right at home.
A watchful eye and a lot of stirring will be essential to making a batch of this sweet and salty candy. First, you’ll want to toast up those pralines because toasting them enhances their nutty flavor. Then we melt up some sugar and evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is not only creamy but it is also syrupy and sweet, which is just the texture we want for making this treat.
It’s entirely up to you what kind of flavor you add, we like to use a little maple extract as well as bourbon flavor, which can come as a flavored extract, or as the real thing. Once these have all had some time over the heat to melt together and get nice and sticky sweet, it’s time to scoop out balls of this sugary mixture. A suggestion: lightly spray your spoon with cooking spray to prevent the candy from sticking to the spoon. Drop a scoop of candy onto wax paper, leaving room for the candy to spread. Once cooled, they’re ready to be served!
Serves 24-32 candies
2 cups pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup unsalted butter
½ cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon maple extract
1 teaspoon bourbon whiskey extract or 1 tablespoon bourbon
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
Lightly toast pecans in a dry pan until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, evaporated milk, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until mixture becomes thick and creamy.
Add butter and toasted pecans, maple extract, and bourbon extract to the saucepan and stir frequently until butter is melted and mixture has thickened.
Cool mixture slightly, about 5 minutes, before scooping out a heaping tablespoon of the praline mixture. Drop a spoonful of mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Leave space between each as candy will spread slightly as it cools.
Cool completely before serving.