Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Brennan's of Houston Pralines

A tray of the famous pralines at Brennan's of Houston
Recently we attended a rehearsal dinner at Brennan's of Houston and it was amazing. The food was delicious with seafood so fresh you could taste the ocean. We were overloaded with crab, shrimp, lobster, fish, and a terrific gumbo!

And as if the dinner itself wasn't enough, there, sitting under a spotlight on a silver tray near the door was a heaping pile of pecan pralines, just asking to be eaten. And eaten they were, and yes, they were just as delicious.

Recipe? Thankfully, they are kind enough to share...

Brennan's of Houston’s New Orleans-Style Pralines
1 quart whipping cream 
1 lb granulated sugar 
1 Tbs light corn syrup 
1 cup medium chopped pecans 
Zest of 1 medium orange
1. Line three cookie sheets, preferably with parchment paper, but wax paper will work. Also have dessert spoons close by to spoon the pralines onto the parchment when it's time.
2. In a large heavy saucepan, slowly simmer cream, sugar, corn syrup, and orange zest over low heat. As cream mixture simmers, be careful of boil-over in the early stages. Let mixture reduce, stirring occasionally.
3. When cream mixture first starts to stick to bottom of pan, you need to stir almost continuously until done. As mixture reduces and the sugar starts to caramelize, the mixture becomes thicker and begins to turn light brown in color.
4. When mixture reaches the soft-ball stage of 240 degrees, stir in pecans. Continue stirring while looking for the point when mixture starts to pull away from sides of the pan.
5. Drop a small amount (quarter size) onto a lined cookie sheet. Look quickly to see if the praline runs out flat or holds a nice rounded top shape, and if the praline has a dull-looking appearance. Also, the mixture shouldn't have an oily look while in the saucepan; that means the mixture has cooked too long.
6. When ready, the mixture should be close to a firm-ball stage of 248 degrees. However, don't depend entirely on the candy thermometer.
7. Use two dessert spoons to spoon out the pralines onto the lined cookie sheets. Use one spoon to dip up the hot mixture and the other one to push it off into the paper.
8. You should be able to pick up a praline in about 30 minutes. It should appear dry and not be chewy. If after a couple of hours, you can't pick one up, leave them on the pans in a cool dry area for a day or two, until they dry out.
Some tips from Brennan's: 
  • Use a heavy whisk or wooden spoon for stirring 
  • Try to not over-stir, as this lightens the color too much
  • Once you place them on the wax paper, leave them alone for at least an hour 
Yield: 4 dozen
* Photo courtesy of Brennan's *