This week's SMS was chosen by Tess of Cookin Chemist: butterscotch pralines. I have to confess I've never had a praline and since I don't like pecans, I wasn't likely to try one this week. The recipe looked easy though, and since I did a rewind last week, I decided to bake along anyway. A few days ago I learned that my library was having a bake sale this weekend and since I adore my library and its enormous cookbook selection, I decided to help out, which meant I had the perfect outlet to share my pralines!
There was only one problem with Melissa's praline recipe - it called for butterscotch chips. We're not butterscotch fans and I knew if I bought a bag of the chips, the portion not used for this recipe would sit in my pantry forever. I decided to give the recipe a go omitting the butterscotch chips and see what happened. Unfortunately, the pralines never set up (they were still sticky even after cooling for much longer than the recipe indicated). I didn't realize it at the time, having never made or tasted pralines, but these pralines looked nothing like they should have (photo evidence below) so it's not too surprising they didn't set.
I still didn't want to buy the butterscotch chips so instead I turned to DamGoodSweet, a book I won in a giveaway last year which specializes in New Orleans desserts. Though I've never had them, I do know that pralines are associated with New Orleans and sure enough, there was a great recipe in the book. The ingredient list was short and didn't include anything I didn't already have on hand. These pralines were super easy to make (a good candy thermometer almost guarantees success!) and set up beautifully. I've included the recipe below for anyone who wants to try this version.
Shane doesn't like pecans either so I didn't have anyone to sample the pralines before I brought them to the library yesterday. It made me a bit nervous to share a goodie I hadn't received any feedback on, but I crossed my fingers and went for it anyway :) Fortunately, one of the women helping to run the bake sale bought a few of the pralines that broke in transit and declared them yummy, allowing me to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Many thanks to Tess for hosting this week! You can find the recipe for the butterscotch pralines on her blog or on pages 220-221 of the Sweet Melissa Baking Book.
from DamGoodSweet by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 cups pecan pieces
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium-low heat. Add 1/2 cup of the cream and both sugars and continue cooking until the sugars are dissolved. Increase the heat to medium then simmer until the mixture reaches 240-250 F, using a rubber spatula to gently push the mixture back and forth in the middle and around the edges occasionally. (Though it didn't happen when I made these, the authors note that you can add 2 more tablespoons of the cream to the pot if the mixture begins to crystallize and continue cooking until it loosens up.)
Add the pecans, remove the pan from the heat and give the mixture a final gentle stir. Use a wooden spoon to portion about 2 tablespoons of the praline mixture onto the prepared baking sheet for each candy, leaving at least 1 inch between them. If the mixture begins to crystallize and set up before you finish portioning all of the pralines, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream to the saucepan and set the pan over medium heat until the mixture is creamy, then continue portioning the candies. Cool for at least 30 minutes before transferring the pralines to an airtight container.
Yields about 3 dozen