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« Sweet Art: Blur for Illustration Friday | Main | Mint Condition: Strawberry Raspberry Peppermint Chocolate Frozen Yogurt »

Praline Solution: Easy Praline Squares From Amarillo

"Easy Praline Squares"
The bad news: this sweet confection looks like a praline bomb went off on a graham cracker minefield.
The good news: the outcome is extremely delicious.

When Cake Gumshoe Chris recently found a book at a secondhand store full of recipes from food writers from throughout the nation, we knew we had to take some of these recipes for a test spin. This recipe comes c/o Beth Whitley Duke, who was at the time of the book's publication the food editor at the Amarillo Globe-News, who introduced the recipe in this way:
Pralines are a traditional Mexican sweet served to take the fire out of a hot Tex-Mex meal. These easy squares use graham crackers as a base for a praline taste without having to make the actual brown sugar candy.

These sweet little squares truly are, as the recipe indicates, easy as can be--with a wonderful return. During the baking, the brown sugar/butter mixture seeps into the cracker, rendering it crunchy on the edges but slightly chewier inside, and the candy-coating gives the walnuts a completely addictive rich, savory-meets-sweet flavor. Adding milk chocolate, like we did, wasn't necessary, but it sure was good.

Oh, and as a note, if you're curious about the addition of cream of tartar (we were!), I looked it up: according to this site,
while it is best known in our kitchens for giving more volume to beaten egg whites...it is also used to produce a creamier texture in sugary desserts such as candy and frosting, because it inhibits the formation of crystals.
So there you go! But on to the goods. Here's the recipe:
Making the toffee coating
Easy Praline Squares
-Makes about 2 dozen cookies -

  • Graham crackers
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup walnuts (original recipe called for finely chopped pecans, but the walnuts were heavenly)
  • 1 large bar milk chocolate, such as Lindt, coarsely chopped (optional)
  1. Break enough graham crackers into individual rectangles to cover the bottom of a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan.
  2. In a saucepan, bring brown sugar and butter to a boil.
  3. Add cream of tartar and walnuts (or pecans) to the boiling mixture. Pour over graham crackers and spread as evenly as you can (it's a pretty thick mixture so it's best if you only spread one way rather than going back and forth). Scatter the chocolate on top, if you've chosen to add it.
  4. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the chocolate has gotten melty and the sugar mixture is lightly bubbling. Remove from the pan while still warm.
Graham cracker pralines

Reader Comments (10)

Love it! Gooey and delicious! And it sure looks easy enough.
I never knew that cream of tartar helped make a creamier candy/frosting. I'm going to do some investigating. Interesting!

November 9 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Very cool. Though I will say, the half melted Lindt chocolate looks muuuch less appetizing than I think was originally intended. In the first photo I'm getting much more of a stomach-turning vibe.

I'm from Louisiana and had no idea other people did pralines in other ways (aside from French praline which isn't like our pralines at all)

November 9 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I am all over this recipe and the Mint condition frozen yogurt! I'll let 'ya know how it goes.
Love, Rae

November 9 | Unregistered CommenterRae

Oh wow! This looks sweet and delicious....perfect :)

November 9 | Unregistered CommenterNutmeg Nanny

Thanks all! Jessica: You're right, they sure aren't pretty (trust me, I Know it!) but they sure ARE delicious. ;-)

November 9 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

a praline square would really hit the spot right now. yum.
i love how easy the recipe is!

November 10 | Unregistered Commenterchristine louise

I won't lie to you. The first photo made me cringe a little. Haha~
It just look so weird. But I think that will taste good and sweet... :D

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September 5 | Unregistered Commenterwasai
Regardless of what Beth Whitley Duke, the one-time food editor at the Amarillo Globe-News says: Pralines are NOT "a traditional Mexican sweet served to take the fire out of a hot Tex-Mex meal." What she is regferring to is Nogada Pecan Candy. These are the chewy candies that look like pralines served in Mexico/Texas, etc, but they are not traditional pralines. Traditional pralines are a FRENCH confection inspired by 17th-century sugar industrialist Marshal du Plessis-Praslin. French settlers brought it to Louisiana and I proudly make pralines to this day in honor of my French heritage. So I beg heartily to disagree with Ms. Duke's definition of a PRALINE.
March 29 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

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