Baking - Desserts, Decorating

Thankful for Pralines

For Thanksgiving’s dessert this year I made a pumpkin cheesecake. I have made it before, but drizzled it with a simple caramel sauce as the garnish. This year I decided to be a little more extravagant and make some pralines, which I discovered are really just pecans in fudge. Oh yum!

I will diverge for a moment to clarify that I’m talking about American pralines. While looking up recipes for pralines I learned that European and American pralines (like many things) are quite different, each geographic region modifying the recipe a bit to use the most readily available nuts, sugars and/or chocolate. The European recipes mostly used almonds, so I decided to go with the American because I thought the pecans would go better with the pumpkin.

Now back to the delicious process (which you also can find by clicking here). I mixed, heated and boiled the pecans, sugars, butter, and milk to about 234F. I was having issues with my thermometer, so I ended up doing the water test to make sure it was at the soft ball stage – dropping a bit of the syrup into a bowl of cold water to see if it would create a soft ball. Once I reached the right temperature I removed it from the heat, added the vanilla, and set the pot in a sink of cold water for about 15 seconds while stirring constantly, then removed it from the cold water and kept beating until it started to lose its sheen. I knew it would only be a matter of seconds before it would turn into crumbs, so I scooped it out onto a parchment lined pan as quickly as I could, and it set beautifully!

I chopped the pralines into small pieces for the top of the cheesecake, and piled them on with abandon, while possibly sneaking a few to eat on the side. They added a sweet and nutty touch, as well as some nice texture, to the creamy, spiced pumpkin cheesecake. A delicious way to end a day celebrating all for which we are thankful!