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When it gets down to it, praline is caramelized sugar and nuts. The house chef of 17th century French entrepreneur Marshal du Plessis-Praslin at the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte created the original version. He took individual almonds and coating them in caramelized sugar. Later they started to use this technique with hazelnuts as well. They also may be ground up into a powder or paste that is known as Pralin which is used in cakes and pastries. When it is mixed with chocolate it is then known as praliné and is a common filling in truffles and as bon-bons. French settlers brought this dish to Louisiana, but with pecans being the most common nut, they changed a bit. There was also the evolution to add cream to make a more butterscotch like candy. This version of Praline still lives in the American South to this day.
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You're like the Dan Brown of the Top Chef world :) Thank you for the always informative and fun blogs!
Thanks, Eli -- I really enjoy gettin schooled by your blog posts! You should consider writing a similar column for the next series of TC or TC Masters!