I love Charleston, SC. Though I live very close, the first time I went there was only about 2 1/2 years ago. Pretty much my entire trip was spent eating, which was not something I complained about. So many fantastic restaurants there, it is probably a good thing I don't live closer.
There is a sweet shop in downtown Charleston. I don't know what its name is, and frankly, it's probably a big tourist trap, but they make pralines. Lots of pralines. They give out free samples of these pralines, and they are oh so tasty. We intentionally walked past that shop several times a day. There was just something so addictive about those nutty chunks of melt-in-your mouth caramel-flavored sweetness.
I've been intending to make pralines for a few months, and finally had the chance a couple of days ago. I was amazed at how easy and quick these were.
I took one bite, and I was right back in Charleston.
These pralines are rich, sweet, satisfying. They have the consistency of fudge with the flavor of caramel, studded with walnuts which lend a slight bitterness. I think the next time I make them, I'll try toasting the walnuts - or whatever nuts I use. I think it would bring out a wonderful flavor that would compliment the sugary candy beautifully.
adapted from marthastewart.com
2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
small pinch of salt
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
Line two baking sheets with parchment, set aside. In a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan, combine sugar, baking soda, salt and cream. Over medium-high heat, cook until deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. The temperature should be 235 on a candy thermometer. Add butter and walnuts, and stir until butter is melted. Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Work rather quickly, as mixture will become harder to scoop as it cools. Allow pralines to cool completely, about 1 hour.