If you could see my copy of Brennan's of Houston in Your Kitchen by Chef Carl Walker, you would see that this book has been used and abused. I had only toyed with the idea of "gourmet cooking" before this book's publication in 2001. After receiving it as a gift, I don't think I left the kitchen for a few months. Though the recipes aren't always simple and often require many ingredients, they somehow nearly always turn out well, producing many "oohs" and "ahhs" from those lucky enough to sample the finished product.
One recipe that has always been particularly troublesome, however, is the New Orleans-Style Pralines. Anyone who has visited Brennan's knows the sheer joy of biting into one of these unbelievably creamy candies. I think I gained ten pounds with every visit to the restaurant just from the pralines alone.
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I was ecstatic to receive the recipe and be able to try it out on my own. Visions of a big basket in my kitchen perpetually overflowing with the sweets danced in my hand. I would bestow a treat or two to every guest who passed through my door, and they would marvel at my confectionary skills.
Yeah, not quite. Candy is decidedly tricky to make, especially in Houston's moist atmosphere. Making the creamy candy liquid is easy enough, but getting it to actually set properly? Sheesh. I actually went to Brennan's and spoke with a sous chef who gave me the following pointers:
1) Until you become proficient, do not try to make them on an extremely humid day (translation - wait until October/ November) 2) Once you place them on the wax paper, do not even look at them for at least an hour 3) Use a heavy whisk or wooden spoon for stirring 4) Try to not over stir as this lightens the color too much
Following these tips, plus practicing about a hundred or so times, I finally got some that were actually fit for consumption. Want to try it for yourself? Check back tomorrow for the recipe.