Monday, December 24, 2012

The Boys of Baking Volume IV: New Orleans Pralines

Hey everyone! In our latest edition of the Boys of Baking, Ryan joins his Grandmother and Aunt in New Orleans, Louisiana for some traditional holiday candy making.

Today's guest blog will trace the steps of making traditional New Orleans Pralines. Pralines are thought to have been a creation of a personal chef of 17th century French statesman C├ęsar duc de Choiseul Comte du Plessis-Praslin. Some believe Plessis-Praslin would have the candies made for women he was courting. According to the story, he would put the sweets into individuals wrappings with his name "Praslin" on them and people eventually began to simply refer to the candies as Praslin's (Pralines). The original receipt used almonds, but when French settlers came to New Orleans, local Creole chefs began to substitute the almonds with the plentiful pecans that grew in southern Louisiana. Today's recipe is for Creole Pralines from a local New Orleans family.

New Orleans Pralines
1 cup sugar
1cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons of light Karo syrup
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of pecans

1) Place the white sugar, brown sugar, Karo syrup, and heavy whipping cream in a sauce pan.
2) Dissolve the sugars, Karo syrup and heavy whipping cream over medium heat until it boils.
3) Continue cooking until candy thermometer registers to 228 Fahrenheit - stirring occasionally.
4) Once the temperature reaches 228 Fahrenheit, add the butter, vanilla extract and pecans.
5) Continue cooking over medium heat until it reaches 236 Fahrenheit.
6) Remove from heat
7) Cool to 225 Fahrenheit
8) Beat until sauce thickens - happens very quickly
9) VERY QUICKLY, drop candy on wax paper into 10 or 15 individual portions
11) Let cool
10) Sit back under your closest Magnolia tree with a cup of chicory coffee and a plate of your delicious Creole pralines and enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge Fail

I think I have a fudge curse. I haven't tried to make fudge in awhile because my last attempt saw me slaving away over the stove, sweaty and stiff-armed from stirring a pumpkin fudge that absolutely, resolutely refused to reach soft-ball stage. For anyone that's counting, that's 235-245 degrees on a candy thermometer.

When I came across this cute recipe recently, I thought it might be an easy way to ease back into fudge since it required NO stovetop time, and only microwaving. Easy as it sounds however, I guess this recipe didn't realize that I'm cursed. Despite microwaving the sweetened condensed milk and white chocolate chips for at least 4 minutes, these chips Would. Not. Melt. I ended up smashing most of them with the back of a spoon to get as close to a smooth consistency as possible.

Next, this recipe calls for three teaspoons of vanilla. 3. Not as much of a big deal if you're using grocery store, imitation vanilla. But if you're someone that likes to use the good stuff, this could get expensive. My problem wasn't cost so much as the fact that I only had brown vanilla extract, rather than clear. So, instead of having a nice, white cake look I had more of a beige/ecru/off-white cake look.

Finally, despite the picture I saw along with the recipe, the final product only makes a rather thin layer of fudge so, if you're looking for thick slabs of country-style fudge, you'll want to double the recipe. Oh, and in the end, it only sort of tasted like cake batter.

I always wonder whether to post recipe failures or not, but I figure it helps to show that not all the food you see online comes out perfectly the first time, and not all of us have the time, money and resources to continually throw out and remake recipes until they're just the way we'd like them. Or maybe I'm just cursed.

Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge
     from Pursuit Of Hippiness
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3.5 cups white chocolate chips
3 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
Rainbow Sprinkles

1. Pour milk and white chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 2-3 minutes, or until white chocolate is almost completely melted. DO NOT OVERHEAT. Stir until completely blended, melted, and smooth.

2. Immediately add vanilla and almond and combine thoroughly. Add a handful or so of rainbow sprinkles and fold in quickly, because they will melt (and if they are stirred for too long they’ll turn the fudge an ugly muddy color).

3. Transfer to an aluminum-foil lined 8×8 inch baking pan for very thick fudge, or a 11X7 pan (recommended). Let set at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

4. Once set,  cut into cubes (and peel off the foil!). Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place.