Serious Eats: Recipes

Pecan Pralines: He Says Pray-leen, I Say Prah-leen

Note: Please welcome Jenny McCoy, the pastry chef at A Voce in Manhattan. She will be regularly checking in with some delicious dessert recipes. What better way to start than with pralines!

[Photographs: Jenny McCoy]

20091211-pralines4.jpgOn my last visit to New Orleans, I found a pecan praline in my hotel room. Not under the bed or in the back of a dresser drawer, stale and long forgotten by a previous guest, but in a gift bag from my dear friend who was getting married. I was delighted to find the treat.

I don't come across too many pralines in New York City and much to my disappointment, you'll never find a pecan in any of my desserts at work. (I am the pastry chef at an Italian restaurant.) Last I checked, pecans aren't typically used in Italian cuisine.

At about 1 a.m. after an evening of drinking in the best New Orleanian fashion I know—lots of Pimm's Cups and bourbon—I happily tucked into my little sweet. While doing so, the subject of pronunciation came up.

20091211-pralines2.jpg

My boyfriend decided he knows how to pronounce the traditional candy better than I do. The man is a master of words, I'll give him that. But he cannot possibly think he has anything on me when it comes to caramelized sugar and Southern accents. I come from a long line of Birminghamsters, all of whom enjoy a lovely Southern drawl, and I've been satiating sweet teeth for the last decade!

In his defense, he has been to Paris a few times. He also studied French for seven-odd years. But prior to our weekend, he not once stepped foot on soil in the "Dirty, Dirty." Indeed, this confection may have French roots but it most definitely has sewn its very own Southern seeds. This, like many others in our relationship, became quite the subject of debate. It's now lasted several weeks.

We are still at odds, and may always be. But one thing I know and he doesn't: how to actually make pecan prah-leens. At the very least, I think that makes me right and him wrong.

Pecan Pralines

About the author: Jenny McCoy is the pastry chef at A Voce in New York City. When she's not covered in flour or frying bomboloni, you can find her strolling the streets of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, with her little dog Olive.

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