To avoid the crowds of holiday shoppers and to give personal gifts, I have started preparing goodies in my kitchen. Today I boiled up a batch of Maple-Nut Pralines. It took me only half an hour to turn out a large batch of confections, and my house smells like maple sugaring time in Vermont.
Pralines are a New Orleans-style candy fashioned from sugar, cream, and pecans. I put my own flavor stamp on these sweets by replacing the standard white sugar with pure maple syrup, stirring in walnuts in addition to pecans, and adding a pinch of nutmeg for a festive touch.
I plan to concoct more candies and bake cookies all during December, and will post some of the recipes on this blog. They will be treats I have thought up over the years and enjoy making again and again. These recipes, and many more, can also be found in Cooking at Home. I am going to thumb through the book again, to select a cookie to make for the friends I will be visiting this weekend.
- Vegetable oil for pans
- 2 cups 16 ounces pure maple syrup
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, if needed, heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup 4 ounces walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup 4 ounces pecans, chopped
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Generously oil 2 rimmed baking sheets.
- In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir together the maple syrup and 1 cup cream. Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan. Bring to a boil and boil the mixture until the thermometer registers 238°F, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to 220°F, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir just until melted and the mixture is creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in the walnuts, pecans, and nutmeg. Immediately, using a tablespoon, scoop up spoonfuls of the mixture and drop onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them evenly. If the mixture becomes too dry to drop, add 2 tablespoons cream and stir over low heat until melted.
- Let the candies cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.