copyright 2010 by Marceline Donaldson
Pralines generate memories that takes me back to a really great childhood. I shall always be grateful to those who sacrificed so much for me.
A neighbor and I (Troy Lynn), used to get in my grandmother’s kitchen and experiment with pralines. Troy Lynn took her pralines home and ate them. I sold mine. My entrepreneurial spirit started early. I ran that enterprise the way some corporations are run today – which is probably why I understand those corporations.
My grandmother supplied the ingredients for the pralines, which was great, but I stuck my mouth out when she suggested I pay for the sugar out of my earnings. I was crushed. “Why do you want me to pay for sugar. You have lots of it in the cupboard.” She tried to tell me about making sure you were making a profit. You also had to count your time in the equation so you would know if it was profitable or not. I was truly appalled at that point. If I did all of that I wouldn’t make a profit and it wouldn’t be worth making the pralines. “That’s the point of doing the math,” my grandmother said. My mouth continued to be stuck out and when she insisted, it started to quiver and she knew tears were next so she just gave up and I had a very successful business.
Thinking of those years and my grandmother and having been on the telephone with Troy Lynn talking about this venture, I decided to make pralines, just to connect to those times and those feelings and my grandmother.
She would have been amazed at the results of my efforts. I am in awe at what I have created. The pralines were sensational. I feel a little sick because I’ve eaten so many and goodness knows what the sugar is going to do to my aging body.
Those pralines brought so many memories rushing back I was crying by the time I finished making them. But, they were not a pure New Orleans creation. They connected Old New Orleans to the East. With these pralines I have managed to make cultural connections with New Orleans, Asia and India.
Ginger tea has become a staple in our kitchen. We always have a glass jar filled with Ginger Tea that we make, at least once a week. (ed.note – see Bettina’s Blog for the recipe). We use it either as ‘sweet tea’ or regular tea – and it has a very strong kick.
This time, by Providence, the tea jar was empty and in the bottom were the slices of ginger root which we let steep to keep the ginger tea strong. That was the genesis of these fantastic pralines.
I used the ginger root slices in the pralines the way one would use pecans. I also used a little freshly ground nutmeg in some and cumin in others with the ginger root. The pralines were vaguely reminiscent of New Orleans pralines, but with a newness that made them a sensation. Pralines, for some, are the very essence of Creole New Orleans. The only food with a stronger connection to Creole New Orleans would be hot callas, but then that’s another blog.
New Orleans today has a very large influx of Asians that call it home. These Ginger Pralines are a cultural amalgam which reflects today’s reality of the city New Orleans has become.
We had just one guest in the house while I was making these pralines. She came into the kitchen while the pralines were cooling on the marble slab and between us we ate all except two of the pralines. Two seemed to be a decent amount to keep to see how they would taste when they were thoroughly cooled. She went to bed and after a respectable time, Robert and I split the last two pralines. They were even better cooled so I made more for tomorrow. They are now downstairs cooling. Maybe they will make it into tomorrow and maybe they won’t. I haven’t been up this late for months – my 7pm bedtime has been shot – my children would be proud!
Pralines aux Ginger – a very recherche dessert
(to be served on heavily gold encrusted dessert plates and eaten with your fingers)
Organic Turbinado Sugar how much you use depends upon how many pralines you want to produce.
for a first timer – two cups should suffice so if you ruin the pralines you can try again without knashing your teeth over your loss of ingredients.
for the experienced candy maker who wants a good number of pralines – one pound
Sliced Organic Ginger Root which has been boiled in a large pot of water for several hours to make tea. The Ginger Root you use for these pralines are what’s left over after the ginger tea is gone.
Water – freshly ground Nutmeg – Cumin
1. Put the sugar in a PORCELAIN POT.
2. Add water to moisten and cover the sugar. Don’t mix the two together. Pour the water over the sugar being careful not to let it splash, etc.
3. Bring the water and sugar to a boil to make a, sort of, simple syrup, but not that liquid.
4. When this mixture reaches about 200 degrees, add the ginger root and let it boil until the mixture begins to bubble and has almost, but not quite, turned to sugar. Stir constantly without stopping.
5. Quickly add any spices you want to incorporate into these pralines – ground nutmeg, cumin, whatever. Given the fact that you are using Ginger Root – even Root that has been previously boiled for several hours, I would not add anything with heat. These will have plenty heat on their own.
6. Take the pot off the fire and drop by the spoonfuls onto a buttered marble slab so you form what looks like small pancakes. Spread these with the spoon and round them with a fork until they form neat, round cakes – the size and thickness depends upon you. I like them about 1/4 inch thick and about 4-5″ in diameter.
Let them dry. Pick them up with a knife or spatula, very gently. You will have the memory of a New Orleans Creole Praline changed into an East meets West confection. Someone have a name for this?
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