Greetings all. This is my first contribution. I was requested by… - From the files of Molly Weasley
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Greetings all.

This is my first contribution. I was requested by someone in my church for the recipe for my awesome Praline Thumbprint cookies, and thought y'all might enjoy it as well.

I grew up in New Orleans where pralines (pronounced pra (as in bra)--leens) are a favorite souvenir. Pralines are a sugary confection made with sugar, butter, vanilla and pecans. The caramalized sugar is dolloped out onto wax paper and allowed to cool into flat, thin circles. Guaranteed to put you in sugar shock if you eat too many.

The cookies are made in two parts: a plain base with the pecans in the dough, and the praline filling. Be sure to heed my words of hard-won wisdom about making these cookies. They can be a bit finnicky.

Praline Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup softened butter (and you must use real butter)
1c. sifted powdered sugar
2 c. flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Cream the butter.  Add sugar and beat well.  Add the flour.  Your dough should be stiff.  Stir in the chopped pecans and vanilla extract.
Shape dough into small balls.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and press your thumb into it, forming a shall depression.  You may have to press around the ball to flatten it out sufficiently.

Bake at 375°F for 11-13 minutes; don't brown the cookies.  Cool.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
dash of salt
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add brown sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. (Don't get it too hot!!!  This will burn very easily.)   Remove the pan from heat and stir in the milk.  Bring to boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.  (It may take a bit of time to get the sugar beaten in.  If you still have lumps, try using a heavy-duty whisk.  If the butter/sugar/milk was done properly, there should not be lumps and the colour should be a light to medium brown, like caramel.)
Add a spoonful or so to the cooled cookies.  Best to do this while the praline filling is still hot.  It cools rapidly and will harden.

If you have filling left over, you can dollop the extra onto wax paper and add chopped or half-pecans.

Don't be discouraged if the filling doesn't come out right.  I make several batches every Christmas, and I always blow at least one pan.   Have plenty of butter and sugar on hand.

If you have any questions, I'm happy to help out.

7 comments or Leave a comment
djinnj From: djinnj Date: January 9th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
ooo... praline....

Do you think the syrup needs to reach a specific temperature to set up properly, or is it more the structure of the powdered sugar (and the presence of corn starch) which influences the final result? 'Cause if it's something as simple as bringing it to the soft ball stage or somesuch, I'd just pull out the candy thermometer. When it boils, what's the character of the bubbles?
abigail89 From: abigail89 Date: January 9th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow! I've never really thought about the bubbles...

I've never put it to a candy thermometer, though logically, I should have. It might help to avoid the busted pots.

The boil shouldn't be a full-out roiling boil (your fire is too hot). Call it a merry boil. :D If you've ever caramelized sugar, that's your guideline.
djinnj From: djinnj Date: January 9th, 2007 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Large, smooth bubbles which hold for a bit before they burst? Sounds like soft ball stage.
abigail89 From: abigail89 Date: January 9th, 2007 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's the one! Wow, there's a technical term for it.

I don't make candy (though I do make chocolate ganaches) so I'm don't know a lot about that realm. But thanks for telling something I didn't know.
djinnj From: djinnj Date: January 9th, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, yep. After messing up my buttercream recipe several times, I decided to use a candy thermometer instead of just eyeballing for the right stage. I haven't had any trouble since I made the switch.
aubrem From: aubrem Date: January 9th, 2007 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whoa. I am SO going to be making these. Thank you!

I have a question about the vanilla - would it be ok if I added it back in the butter/sugar stage? I'm not sure I could get it to mix in evenly once it's a dough.
abigail89 From: abigail89 Date: January 9th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm....I think you can add the vanilla before you add the flour. Try that. I can get my little hand-held beater through the dough after the flour is added, so it's not that thick. If the dough is too dry, the pecans will fall out, and you don't want that.
7 comments or Leave a comment