When In Doubt: Make Pralines.

posted in: Day In The Life 0
My pralines. Photo: Me.
My pralines. Photo: Me.

I like Mondays.

It’s true. Monday is my favorite day of the week. I was born on a Monday and even though one of the most popular songs in the world the day I took my first breath was “I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats, I like them. I like Mondays.

Tomorrow is Monday; I plan to grab it and squeeze. My hope is that the good ol’ engine of the standard work week will get my head on straight; I haven’t had this tough a time focusing since I had my last big surgery. I’m behind on everything and though I’m acutely aware right now that none of it really matters, the late fee on my condo assessment did wonders for yanking me out of the pain of the abstract. I simply must get things done tomorrow.

Tonight, as I did laundry and tidied, I decided I’d cook something. Cooking or baking always helps a black mood. Well, unless you burn everything up. If you scorch the cookies or the cake falls, well, that’s bad. You’re going to feel worse, maybe a lot worse. But it’s worth rolling the dice, especially if you feel truly rotten. There’s nowhere to go but up!

I made pralines. Pure sugar and pecans, baby. They’re a bit runny, but it doesn’t matter; I think you get your I Love Pralines Club membership revoked if you turn down a praline because it looks uneven. I’m going to send most of them to my Aunt Leesa; we made them the last time I went to see her and we ate them all in about 24 hours.

PaperGirl “Pralines of Love”

Note: Google the whole “ball stage” candy-making deal before you jump in. And get a candy thermometer. And BE CAREFUL. Okay, and making candy is super, super fun. Yum!
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • cup half-and-half (or milk and creme fraiche mixed because you didn’t have any cream, drat)
  • 3 T. buttah
  • cups pecan halves (I think I used a little more than this because yum, nuts)

(1) Butter the sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Put the two kinds of sugar and whatever dairy you ended up with into the saucepan. Get a wooden spoon and be ready to stand and stir awhile. Cook the mixture at medium-high heat to boiling, stirring constantly. You want to dissolve the sugars, and this will take 6-8 minutes. BE CAREFUL BECAUSE LIQUID CANDY IS BASICALLY NAPALM. SERIOUSLY, BE CAREFUL BECAUSE I LOVE YOU.

(2) Clip your candy thermometer onto the side of the pan. (Make sure the thermometer isn’t hitting the bottom of the pan but sits a bit above it.) Reduce heat to medium-low; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring occasionally, until thermometer registers about 235-degrees F, or “soft-ball stage.” This will take 16-18 minutes. *TIP: It’s better to go a little longer here than to short yourself; I think that’s why mine were runny tonight.

(3) Remove pan from heat. Gently slide the butter into the pan. Don’t stir it. Let it all cool to 150-degrees F. (This should take about 30 minutes and get your pecans ready while you wait and get your parchment paper or wax paper ready, too! It’s almost showtime.) Remove thermometer. Stir in pecans. Beat vigorously (!) 3 minutes or so with your wooden spoon until candy begins to get thick—but try to keep it glossy-looking.

(4) Drop candy by spoonfuls onto parchment or waxed paper. Work quick-like-a-bunny because this stuff becomes spackle as it dries.  (If your goo becomes too stiff to drop, stir in a few drops of hot water.) Let them cool awhile. Then eat nine of them. Then put the rest in a tightly-covered container.

Yields: I don’t know. They’re always different sizes and I eat some before I count.


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