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|Chocolate, nuts, syrup|
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Praline can refer to confections made from nuts and sugar syrup, whether in whole pieces or a ground powder, or to any chocolate cookie containing the ground powder or nuts. Belgian pralines are different; they consist of a hard chocolate shell with a softer, sometimes liquid, filling. French pralines are a combination of almonds and caramelized sugar. American pralines also contain milk or cream and are therefore softer and creamier, resembling fudge.
As originally inspired in France at the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte by the cook of the 17th-century sugar industrialist Marshal du Plessis-Praslin (1598–1675), early pralines were whole almonds individually coated in caramelized sugar, as opposed to dark nougat, where a sheet of caramelized sugar covers many nuts. Although the New World had been discovered and settled by this time, pecans and chocolate-producing cocoa (both native to the New World) were originally not ingredients in European pralines. The European chefs used local, easily available and relatively cheap ingredients: nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts.
The powder made by grinding up such sugar-coated nuts is called pralin, and is an ingredient in many cakes, pastries, and ice creams. When this powder is mixed with chocolate, it becomes praliné in French, which gave birth to what is known in French as chocolat praliné (chocolate praline). The word praliné is used colloquially in France and Switzerland to refer to these, known simply as "chocolates" in English, i.e. various centres coated with chocolate. In Europe, the word praline is used to mean either this powder or the paste made from it, often used to fill chocolates, hence its use by synecdoche in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium to refer to filled chocolates in general. In the United Kingdom, the term can refer either to praline (the filling for chocolates) or, less commonly, to the original whole-nut pralines.
French settlers brought this recipe to Louisiana, where both sugar cane and pecan trees were plentiful. During the 19th century, New Orleans chefs substituted pecans for almonds, added cream to thicken the confection, and thus created what became known throughout the American South as the praline. Pralines have a creamy consistency, similar to fudge. It is usually made by combining sugar (often brown), butter, and cream or buttermilk in a pot on medium-high heat, and stirring constantly, until most of the water has evaporated and it has reached a thick texture with a brown color. Then it is usually dropped by spoonfuls onto wax paper or a sheet of aluminum foil greased with butter, and left to cool.
Pralines, commonly known as "Belgian chocolates" or "chocolate bonbons" in English-speaking countries, are chocolate pieces filled with a soft fondant centre. They were first introduced by Jean Neuhaus II, a Belgian chocolatier, in 1912. There have always been many forms and shapes in Belgian pralines. They nearly always contain a hard chocolate shell with a softer (sometimes liquid) filling. The filling can be butter, liquor, nuts, marzipan, or even a different kind of chocolate. They are usually wrapped as a gift. Today, Belgian pralines are still very popular in Belgium, as well as in other countries. The largest manufacturers are Neuhaus, Godiva, Leonidas and Guylian.
- New Orleans Pralines
- Food Timeline Praline History
- The Creole Confection – New Orleans Pralines
- Julia Child (1961), Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Alfred A. Knopf
- You Say Praline, I Say Praline, and They Say Praliné
- Belgian Pralines
- Praline Definition
- What is a Praline?
- Amy M. Thomas (December 22, 2011). "Brussels: The Chocolate Trail". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-25. "Ever since the Brussels chocolatier Jean Neuhaus invented the praline 100 years ago, the city has been at the forefront of the chocolate business. ... They are breaking away from traditional pralines—which Belgians classify as any chocolate shell filled with a soft fondant center..."