Pecans are found in abundance in New Orleans area in North America. Apart from the great nutritional value of the raw nut pecans have been consumed by the Americans in a number of innovative ways. Sometimes Pecans are just roasted, salted, and eaten as delicious crunchy snacks. They are also used in cakes and pies. Very often these tasty nuts are used as pecan pralines and candied pecans.
Pecan pralines are commonly prepared in North America as they are easily available there. A French cook in France first prepared pralines. Individual pieces of almonds were covered with caramelized sugar. Later in Europe praline came to be known as crushed powder or paste of the caramelized nut. This powder is used as fillings in the chocolate. The famous Belgian chocolates have such fillings.
Pecan pralines can be easily prepared at home. To make pecan praline the ingredients you need are evaporated milk, butter, brown sugar, pecans, vanilla and water. Put milk, sugar and water in a thick-bottomed pan. Put it on heat and bring it to boil. Stir constantly till it takes the consistency of a soft ball. Remove from the heat and fold in the butter, vanilla, and the pecans. Drop spoonful of pecan mixture on waxed paper and your tasty pecan pralines are ready.
Candied pecans are mouth-watering delights that can be prepared without much hassle. The things you need are pecans halved, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, cinnamon, salt, water, and vanilla. Coat the pecans with vegetable oil, spread on a baking sheet, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently. In a saucepan put sugar, cinnamon, salt, and water and put it on heat to cook. Stir the mixture over medium heat till the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be transformed into a softball consistency or should reach a temperature of 236 degree of a candy thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the vanilla. Add pecans and stir till the mixture is creamy. Put the whole mixture on a waxed paper and separate the pecans with fork. Cool till the candied pecans are hardened and ready to eat.
Another milky variety of candied pecans can be prepared with evaporated milk, butter, sugar, water, and pecan. In a heavy bottomed saucepan cook milk and water on high fire. Blend in sugar and stir till the mixture turns light brown. Drop a stick of butter in it. On the other side spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake till they turn brown. Pour them out on a buttered plate. Now, test the mixture for softball consistency. If it is done, stir in the pecans. Keep stirring till the mixture turns into semi-hard candy consistency. Pour it on a greased plate and cut immediately into small pieces. Candied pecans can be used in cakes too. These cakes can be served as excellent dessert.
Generally, pecan pralines and candied pecans are available in stores in air tight tins. They can be bought for serving as snacks or can be used in desserts or can be just wrapped up and presented to someone you love. They make very attractive gift.