You know how sometimes you flip through a cookbook or magazine, and you see a recipe that gets stuck in your craw? Maybe something with an amazing photo or an interesting ingredient or something that just sounds like it might make your life complete? Me, too.
But then there are those times when I get stuck on something that doesn’t even remotely make sense – like my infatuation with these Buttermilk Bacon Pralines from Martha Hall Foose’s “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea.”
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t found many bacon desserts that sound all that appetizing. BLTs? Yes. Bacon simmering in a big pot of beans? Definitely. Bacon crumbled on my salad or baked potato? Oh, yeah. I thoroughly agree that bacon is the candy of meat; I’ve just never wanted it in my cake, pie or cookies.
Then I found these pralines.
Pralines are a Louisiana specialty, most likely derived from an almond confection created by a chef in the home of French diplomat Cesar du Plessis-Praslin in the 1600s. The theory is that French settlers brought the recipe to New Orleans, substituted the native pecans for the almonds and added cream to form a sweet, chewy candy. This variation, which trades the cream for buttermilk and adds four slices of crisp, crumbled bacon, transforms the praline from a confection into an amuse-bouche, a one-bite hors d’oeuvre beloved by the creators of Top Chef quickfire challenges.
Buttermilk Bacon Pralines taste completely different from the original – surprisingly savory, as well as sweet, creamy, crunchy and wonderfully nutty. So, it’s good that pralines are so easy to make. First, you heat the sugars, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda and salt to 235 degrees F. Then you add the butter, vanilla, pecans, orange zest and bacon; beat the mixture with a wooden spoon; and drop it by teaspoonfuls onto buttered parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Half an hour later, the mysterious ooze will have transformed into the most infatuation-inducing pralines.
I’m not exactly sure what type of party should serve these hors d’oeuvres, but in the words of Liz Lemon, I want to go to there.
Buttermilk Bacon Pralines
Adapted from Martha Hall Foose’s “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea”
Makes 24 small pralines
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter*
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
- In a heavy-bottomed, deep saucepan, combine the sugars, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda and salt over medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
- Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, pecans, orange zest and bacon. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
- Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a silicone mat or buttered parchment paper. Let stand 30 minutes, or until cool. Store in an airtight container.
*Gluten-Free Tip: Use GF butter.