Wonderfully indulgent, Louisiana Pralines are all about buttery southern pecans wrapped in blankets of rich, soft, fudge-like caramel candy made from brown sugar, cream, and butter. A true, easy-to-make southern tradition, Pralines make the perfect Christmas candy!
What Are Pralines?
Pralines, pronounced prah-leans if you’re from Louisiana, is a marvelous little New Orleans treat. A soft, homemade candy made of brown sugar, butter and pecans, they have a velvety, texture similar to fudge with a rich nutty, buttery, caramel-like flavor. The perfect praline should literally melt in your mouth when you take that first bite!
And it’s that melt-in-your-mouth texture that makes them so irresistible! Don’t let the idea of “making candy” scare you off. It did me for a long time. Oh, think of all those years I wasted without their caramel-y, nutty goodness!
When I decided to take the plunge, I found out that Pralines are actually easy to make! Especially when you know a few simple tips and tricks.
More Christmas Treats: Dark Chocolate Cranberry Bark with Cranberries
Ingredients for The Best Louisiana Pralines
It only takes 7 simple staple ingredients to whip up these decadent southern candies!
- brown sugar
- heavy whipping cream- This recipe uses cream instead of evaporated milk because it gives the candy a creamy texture and nice, full body.
- light corn syrup
- real salted butter– margarine or anything other than real butter does not work in this recipe
- pecan halves
- vanilla extract
How to Make Classic Louisiana Pralines
Make the Soft Candy Part. Softly boil brown sugar, cream, corn syrup and salt in a large sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add butter and let mixture continue to low boil while stirring for 5-6 minutes.
If you have a candy thermometer, a quick check to see if your candy has reached 236- 240 degrees Fahrenheit will let you know it’s done. If you don’t, then just drop a little in a cup of cold water after 5 minutes of boiling. If the mixture forms a ball, then the candy is ready!
Add The Pecans. Remove from heat and quickly fold in the pecans and vanilla using a wooden spoon. Stir constantly until the candy begins to thicken. Think shiny, melted peanut butter.
Spoon Out The Pralines. Use a large soup spoon to scoop out heaping spoonfuls of candy and drop them onto parchment paper to set. It usually takes about 30 minutes.
Tips for Making The Best Pralines
What If My Candy Gets Too Thick? If the candy begins to set before you get it all scooped, simply add 1 spoonful of boiling water to the mixture, stir until it loosens up and continue scooping.
What If My Candy Is Too Thin? If the candy is too thin, it will run and spread out too much when spooned onto the parchment paper. Test by scooping out one spoonful. If the mixture needs to be thicker, simply continue stirring until the the candy thickens up.
Humidity. Our humidity here in the South definitely affects whether or not your pralines will set up. Your best bet is to avoid making candy when it’s raining or on high humidity days.
Holiday Gifts & Christmas Cookie Exchanges
Pralines make scrumptiously thoughtful gifts during the holiday season. Fill cookie tins or pastry boxes (using parchment paper between layers), tie with ribbon and give a gift everyone will want more of!
Pralines also are ideal for Christmas cookie exchanges. Mix them onto a cookie platter for an extra bit of holiday yum this season!
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Classic Louisiana Pralines
- 3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ stick real salted butter (4 tablespoons)
- 3 cups pecan halves, rough chopped
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Combine brown sugar, cream, corn syrup and salt in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring regularly. Add butter and let mixture low boil while stirring for 5-6 minutes or until it reaches 236- 240 degrees Fahrenheit using a candy thermometer or when mixture forms a ball when dropped in a measuring cup of cold water.
- Remove from heat and fold in pecans and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Stir constantly until candy begins to thicken (about 3-4 minutes). When it becomes the consistency of melted peanut butter, quickly drop heaping spoonfuls onto parchment paper to set.
- Let stand 30 minutes or until firm. Should be the consistency of fudge when ready.