Whether you say pee-can or pee-kahn, in Louisiana we love our desserts and treats with pecans. Pecans are the only natural tree nut that grows in North America. Louisiana played a major roll with the development of the pecan industry. French settlers learned of the nut from Native Americans and incorporated it into their cooking. New Orleans, as a prominent international port, helped to establish the pecan trade industry. A famous slave gardener named, Antoine, at Oak Alley Plantation, located on the Great River Road (https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/louisiana/riverroad.htm), was the first to successfully graft a pecan tree. He created a variety of pecans that could be cracked by hand. Orchards began to be planted and, from there on, pecans have been part of our culture and cuisine.
The following are two wonderful recipes that include pecans. Both can be made ahead of time and frozen or stored in a container for a days before a party or family gathering. Enjoy a part of our culture and tradition!
Bourbon Pecan Tartlets, RRR IV, and Senator Ellender’s Creole Pralines, RRR II. Photo by Meghan Poole.
Bourbon Pecan Tartlets
- 36 frozen minature phyllo pastry shells
- 1/2 cup (3 ounces) minature semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Arrange the pastry shells in a single layer on a lightly greased 10×15 inch baking sheet.
- Spoon the chocolate chips evenly into the shells.
- Combine the pecans, brown sugar, butter, bourbon and egg in a bowl and mix well.
- Spoon the pecan mixture into the prepared shells.
- Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove to a wire rack to cool. store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
Makes 3 dozen tartlets
Senator Ellender’s Creole Pralines Pralines
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons of corn syrup
- 4 cups pecan halves (If large halves, cut into smaller pieces)
- Put all of the ingredients (except for the pecans) into a 3 quart saucepan
- Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
- After boiling starts, add the pecans and cook the mixture until liquid forms a soft ball. (You can use a cooking thermometer that can indicate the stage of “soft balls”, otherwise, drop a small amount into cold water and verify the stage)
- Stir well and drop by spoonful onto wax paper (you can line a cookie sheet or baking pan with the wax paper)
- Let cool until the pralines are set
Another praline version to try is the microwave recipe found in RRR IV.
- 1 (16-ounce) package light brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 2 cups pecan pieces
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Combine the sugar and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl and mix well. Microwave on high for 7 minutes; stir.
- Add the butter. Microwave on High for 7 minutes longer and stir vigorously.
- Stir in the pecans and vanilla.
- Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Let stand until set.