Pralines are New Orleans' favorite dessert, and there are a few confectioneries who claim to sell the best ones.
But Southern Candymakers seemed to come with rave reviews, so I stepped inside to get my mitts on some.
The praline itself is a French confection, named after César, duc de Choiseul, comte du Plessis-Praslin, who some believe had his cook devise an almond-studded candy to woo his various love interests. Or perhaps it was his butler who created the treat to cure Praslin’s painful indigestion, or a clumsy cook knocking almonds into a vat of caramelized sugar. Either way, the praline became a hit in France.
In Louisiana, where pecans — not almonds — prevail, the praline evolved thanks to the "culinary genius of African-American women," writes praline scholar Chanda M. Nunez, who credits those women with creating "the New Orleans praline as we know it." Even the New Orleans praline's shape — the way it hardens into a little brown puddle with pecans randomly jutting up across its murky topography — seems to evoke the swamp, if, say, it froze over and all its spooky cypress knees were forever preserved in time.
I ordered a praline: The quintessential New Orleans confection. We really do make the best pralines, using only the freshest cream, butter, sugar and premium jumbo pecan halves. We invite comparison with any praline, anywhere!
And I also got a tortue, which is a pecan-caramel patty swirled in chocolate. This may have been my favorite.
Which do you like?