“If music be the food of love, play on.”-- William Shakespeare
The MOST exciting thing happened while I was cooking outdoors at Capitol Market, Charleston, West Virginia’s year-round farm market (think San Francisco’s Ferry Building scaled down in a small town train depot). I got to practice my French, saying "Laissez les bon temps rouler," as the sugar, butter, and pecans bubbling on my cooktop perfumed the air. In the distance, a brass band was trumpeting a medley of classic horn tunes, concluding with what felt like a serenade of When the Saints Go Marching In. Was I dreaming? A full house for the cooking demo on this bluebird day, perfected by a subtle breeze and the festive parade passing through. Let the good times roll!
A classic French sweet with an American twist. Recipe adapted from The New Orleans School of Cooking
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup milk (whole or 2%)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, and pecans in a 4-quart saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When it comes to a boil, stir constantly and cook until syrup registers 240- on a candy thermometer* about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and add the salt. Continue stirring until the mixture turns from dark caramel to creamy to cloudy (use a wooden spoon as metal will get untouchably hot)
Drop spoonfuls of the praline syrup onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, working quickly before the mixture sets up in the saucepan. Let the pralines cool and harden for 10 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container layered between sheets of wax paper.
Makes 3 to 4 dozen, depending on the size