Tuesday, August 08, 2006

new orleans-inspired mixed nut pralines

2 cups of mixed, unsalted nuts
(1 cup pecans or walnuts, ½ cup pine nuts,
½ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts)
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
4 tbs butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
dark chocolate, for drizzling (optional)

In a 350-degree oven, toast nuts on a baking sheet, stirring occasionally until nuts are very lightly browned; about 5 minutes or so.

In a very large, heavy pot, add sugar, brown sugar, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. With a wooden spoon, stir over low heat with a until sugar is dissolved. Use a pastry brush that’s been dipped in water to brush down the sides of the pot. Add butter and stir until melted completely. Increase the heat to medium and place a candy thermometer into the pot. Without stirring, cook until mixture reaches 236-degrees F (the soft ball stage - it will be marked exactly on the thermometer). Note that the mixture will froth and drastically increase in volume as it heats. Remove pot from heat and stir in vanilla and toasted nuts, beating with the wooden spoon until the sugar mixture begins to become thicker and less translucent. Working quickly, drop from tablespoons onto 2 Silpat-lined baking sheets, so that each praline is about 2 inches in diameter and 2 inches apart. Let cool completely for about half an hour. Do not store in the fridge.

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