Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Best Pralines at Southern Candymakers
Well, after a big lunch at Deanie's, in the French Quarter on Saturday, I was walking back to the Trolly stop at Bienville St., and I happened to walk by Southern Candymakers on the corner of North Peters where it runs into Decatur St. My senses were immediately assaulted by the mystical smell of sugars caramelizing in cream and butter. They were making Pralines!
Against my better judgment I walked into the store and saw the new batch of Pecan Pralines (pronounced prah-leens) being spooned out onto a marble slab to cool. A gentleman was scooping up the delicacies and offered me a sample bite. Now, I've eaten pralines before but never fresh from the kettle while still hot. These were the best pralines I have ever eaten. Honestly, they were the creamiest, with whole pecans, all warm and mellow… words cannot describe them. Even after they had cooled, they were still the best I'd eaten.
It turns out the friendly gentleman serving me was Peter Tompkins, one of the owners of Southern Candymakers. He told me their business, at 334 Decatur, had been in the French Quarter for 18 years making a vast array of delicious candies, in addition to the pralines. They have two locations, the second being further down in the French Market at 1010 Decatur.
This is a locally owned business, that also does mail order if you can't be in New Orleans to get them yourself. You can order them by calling 504-523-5544 or toll free at 800-344-9773. Their great website can be accessed by clicking Southern Candymakers. Oh yeah, here's also a short video about Southern Candymakers.
Meanwhile, I will give you my recipe for pralines. This is not the recipe from Southern Candymakers, but it is the best I've found. This might tide you over. Be sure to buy a candy thermometer to make it easier on yourself.
RouxBDoo's Pecan Pralines
1 1⁄2 cups white sugar
3⁄4 cups brown sugar
3⁄4 cup Half & Half
1⁄2 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1⁄2 cups pecan halves
Combine first four ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down a cook the mixture on MED until it reaches 240º with a candy thermometer, or forms a soft ball. As the mixture cooks, don’t stir it to death, this will make it grainy. Stir it only occasionally, while spooning the mixture up on the side of the saucepan, to wash the sugar crystals off the sides.
Remove from the heat and add the pecans and vanilla. Stir the mixture until it starts to cool and gets cloudy. It is then ready to spoon out onto wax paper or a Teflon pan. Don’t let it get too thick or it won’t drop properly. If it does, add some warm water to it, only about a tablespoon. Let them cool and serve.