I absolutely love traveling to New Orleans and the main reason for this love affair is their delicious, creamy pralines.  To date, the only way I enjoyed these confectionary treats was when I (or anyone else I knew) went to New Orleans and brought me back some goodies.  However, I recently discovered that pralines are pretty easy to make and once I knew that, well I determined to become a praline maker!  Since the holidays are upon us, I wanted to add a delicious candy-like treat to my holiday cookie box.  These are the perfect treat to add to your standard cookie offerings.  If you want to add a bit of spice to your recipe, spike the praline batter with 2 tsps of Myers rum.

To get started you need just a few basics, light brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, white sugar, butter, pecans, black pepper, vanilla, and Myers rum (optional).  Measure out the following – 1/2 stick of butter, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1 & 1/2 cups of white sugar, 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp of heavy cream, 1 – 2 cups of pecans, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, and 1 tsp of vanilla or 2 tsp of Myers Rum.  Mix the sugars, cream, and the butter in a pot and place on the stove under a low heat.

Stir the mixture frequently until the butter melts (this will take about 30 seconds), then reduce the fire to low and allow to boil stirring sparingly.   The sugar mixture will need to cook until the temperature reaches the soft ball stage or about 239 degrees.  This will take about 15 minutes – make sure you watch your pot so that the sugar mixture does not burn.  If the temperature is a few degrees higher – no worries but too high will cause your sugar mixture to become more like a brittle than a creamy praline when it hardens.

Once the proper temperature is reached, add in the vanilla or rum (your choice) the black pepper, and 1 – 2 cups of pecans and stir vigorously for about 45 seconds to 1 minute.  Then immediately, on a parchment lined cookie sheet (do not use wax paper) spoon one tablespoon of praline mixture at a time onto the cookie sheet leaving enough space between drop for the candy to spread.  Allow candy to cool and harden (about 20 minutes).

To serve as a gift in your cookie box – wrap tightly in plastic wrap before placing in a holiday tin or the packing of your liking.  In an air-tight tin, these candies will store well for 3 to 5 days.