Have you ever tried a praline? These soft, creamy pecan candies are a staple in the South. They are especially popular in New Orleans and Texas. I grew up on these things. And let me tell ya, they are delicious.
I love these candies so much that I knew I had to try my hand at making a paleo version. Well, after a few failed attempts, I finally got it right! These are decadently sweet and creamy, just like traditional pralines, but without the refined sugar and dairy.
Let’s just get one thing straight though, these are not healthy. Sure, they are made with paleo ingredients, but they are still candies. That means sugar. Albeit coconut sugar and maple syrup, it’s still sugar. Just had to put that out there.
Now, you could just skip to the recipe at this point, but I urge you to read on for a few of my tips and tricks. They will make your life a whole lot easier. I promise.
I would definitely say that pralines are easy to make, but it may take you a few tries to get the hang of it. The trick is to know just the right moment to start scooping out the pralines onto your tray. After you remove the pot from the heat and begin stirring, keep going until the mixture begins to thicken and become slightly opaque.
You don’t want to begin scooping them out too early or they won’t be creamy enough and will harden too much. You don’t want to scoop them out too late or the mixture will be super thick and they will end up looking more like astroids than smooth pralines. That being said, better to wait too long and have ugly astroid pralines that are still the right creamy texture than to take them out too early and have slightly crunchy pralines. That’s just my opinion though. Have I scared everyone away yet? No? Okay, good. These are really not all that difficult to make. The only difficulty is when you want them to be pretty. If aesthetics are not important to you then you shouldn’t have any issues really.
You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe. You could try to do it without and just use the soft ball test, but I would only try that if you are a candy-making pro.
If your room temperature is below 70ºF/21ºC, then the edges of your pralines will likely cool a bit too fast. This results hard, crunchy, toffee-like edges instead of soft, creamy edges like the rest of the praline. While toffee-like edges not necessarily terrible, they can be avoided if you’d like the texture of your pralines to be consistent throughout. My trick is to simply heat up your baking sheet in the oven. Place your baking sheet in the oven at about 180ºF/82ºC and then remove it (quickly!) right before you scoop out the pralines. This prevents the edges from cooling too fast.
Now, let’s talk spoons! Make sure to use a wooden spoon to stir the praline mixture as it cooks. Metal will cause too much temperature fluctuation. When scooping out the pralines onto the baking sheet, I like to use 2 metal table spoons/soup spoons. If your room is cold, I recommend heating these two spoons up a bit before using them! If they are warm then it will be much easier to quickly scoop out the mixture. Cold spoons will cause the praline mixture to cool too quickly and stick the spoons too much before you have a chance to drop them onto the baking sheet.
And lastly, you want to avoid stirring the praline mixture too much while it’s cooking. Just enough to keep it from burning on the bottom. Whew, that was a lot of tips. Better to be thorough than to just throw a recipe at you though, right?? 😁
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!
- 1 cup packed (168g) coconut sugar
- 1 cup (114g) pecans, roughly chopped
- ½ cup (156g) maple syrup
- ½ cup (115g) full fat coconut milk
- ¼ cup (56g) grass-fed butter or ghee (salted)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 pinches sea salt
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot with high sides. I like to use a Dutch oven because it distributes heat evenly and yields the most consistent results.
- Place the pot over medium heat and stir slowly until the mixture is smooth.
- Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and allow it to bubble until the temperature reaches 238ºF/114ºC. Stir occasionally to make sure the bottom isn't burning. It should take about 17-18 mins to reach this temperature (the soft ball stage).
- Immediately remove the pot from heat once it reaches 238ºF/114ºC and begin stirring. Stir until the mixture starts to thicken and turns slightly opaque. Right when it begins to thicken but before it gets too thick, begin scooping out the candy using table spoons. I like to use 2 table spoons. One spoon to scoop and the other to push the mixture out onto the parchment. Quickly drop the mixture on the parchment in little rounds. Be fast with this step because the mixture will quickly begin to cool and harden.
- Allow the pralines to cool completely. Cooling time will depend on your room temperature, but is usually around 30 minutes.
- Pralines can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for up to a week, but are best within 2 days. I like to wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then put them in an air-tight container to prevent them from sticking together.
Please let me know if you have any questions for me! I’d be more than happy to help! Just drop me a line in the comments section of this post.