Making pecan pralines is an exercise in mis en place. “You need everything ready; there’s no time once your sugar starts cooking,” Atlanta-based pastry chef Chrysta Poulos says. Indeed, it’s important to watch that pot. “It’s the cardinal rule not to walk away.” When they’re ready, make quick work of dropping the pralines while they’re warm. But if you miss that boat, fret not, Poulos says. Break the hardened batch into pieces to garnish other sweets or fold into ice cream.
With the exception of tasting for work, Poulos keeps a vegan diet. Here, she shares a recipe that complies. “There are so many people who don’t do dairy for health or allergy reasons. This takes that component out,” she says. If pecans aren’t your favorite, any other nut can be used here.
Makes 12 to 15 pralines
2 cups pecan pieces
2 cups sugar
¾ cup nondairy creamer*
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ ounce or 1 tablespoon vegan butter
⅛ teaspoon salt
Pinch dutch-processed cocoa powder
Special equipment: Candy thermometer
*Feel free to use a flavored creamer here. Poulos is a fan of Califia’s hazelnut creamer in this recipe.
Don’t double praline recipes—you won’t be able to spoon all the candies out before they cool.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes, then set aside.
- Line two small baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- In a high-sided, heavy-bottomed pot fitted with a candy thermometer, combine sugar, creamer, and baking soda. Using a heatproof spatula, mix ingredients together and place over medium heat. Stir slowly and constantly, using spatula to scrape bottom of pot to prevent any spots from scorching, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. As it approaches temperature, the mixture will take on a light caramel color.
- As soon as mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat and add toasted pecans and remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Working very quickly, use a large serving spoon to drop pralines onto baking sheets. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
From Perfecting Pralines.