Marcel Desaulnier's Chocolate Maple Walnut Praline
There seem to be as many ways to pronounce "praline" as there are interpretations
of this brittle candy. Traditionally, pralines are made of caramelized sugar with
almonds or hazelnuts. In Louisiana, they use brown sugar and pecans. I love all
the pralines I've ever eaten, no matter the province or the pronunciation.
Be sure to use pure maple syrup for this recipe and not the sapless imitation
they give you at the pancake house.
1 1/2 cups walnut pieces
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes; let cool to room
Heat the maple syrup in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan over moderately-high heat. When
the syrup begins to boil, reduce the heat to moderate and continue to boil for 10
minutes, stirring occasionally with a metal spoon. Remove the syrup from the heat
and immediately stir in the walnuts. Transfer the glazed walnuts to a rimmed baking
sheet. Use the metal spoon to spread the walnuts evenly over one half of the baking
sheet. Set aside.
Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a clean 3-quart saucepan. Whisk to combine;
the sugar will resemble moist sand. Caramelize the sugar by heating it for about
10 minutes over moderately-high heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to break
up any lumps. The sugar will become clear as it liquefies, then it will brown as
it caramelizes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the unsweetened chocolate
and stir until melted. Immediately and carefully pour the caramelized chocolate
mixture over the walnuts, covering all the nuts. Let harden at room temperature
for at least 30 minutes.
Invert the praline onto a clean, dry cutting board - it should pop right out
of the baking sheet. Use a sharp serrated knife and a sawing motion to cut the praline
Store the praline in a tightly sealed plastic container until ready to devour.
Yield: about 1 1/2 pounds
Make ahead: Chocolate Maple Walnut Praline will keep for several days at room
temperature if stored in a tightly sealed plastic container. Since this type of
candy is very susceptible to humidity and moisture, cool and dry conditions are
imperative. The pralines can also be refrigerated or frozen, but they will be tacky
to the touch.
Serve with: You can use the pralines in other confections - try folding 1/4-inch
pieces into white chocolate or vanilla ice cream.