I meant to do this post yesterday, but with all of the holiday stuff going on, I just didn't get that far. Yesterday was my blogiversary! Hard to believe that I've been at this for two years now. It's pretty amazing when I think about all the neat baking things I've accomplished since I started blogging. And even better, it's great to think about all the wonderful blogging friends I've made. Brianna and I made a brief stop at Starbucks yesterday so I could pick up some gift cards. While we were waiting, she had to look at everything, of course. One thing that she noticed was a bunch of madeleines displayed by the register. She took one look and pointed out to me, "You've made those!" And she's right, though I haven't baked any since we did them for TWD last year. They're on the long list of new things that I've tried due to the influence of a baking group or blogging event. It's not that I didn't do a lot to baking before I started blogging, but the interaction with others has definitely inspired me to try so many new things. I'll talk about some more of them when I get to my year-end wrap-up next week, but there's one that I want to share for today.
I've certainly made lots of Christmas cookies this year, thanks to the 12 Days of Cookies. I realized that I wanted to do something a little different for the daycare teachers and my employees, since they've already been the recipients of many of the cookies I've made this year. So I decided to try my hand at some different sorts of candy. I made fudge and caramels, but wanted something else. Then one of my new Twitter friends mentioned making pralines. That reminded me of a recipe in the Martha Stewart Holiday Sweets magazine that I picked up right at the beginning of the holiday season. Pecan-Sour Cream Pralines sounded like just the right thing.
When I first started blogging, I'd rarely made caramel--maybe once. It scared me, quite a bit in fact. But over the past two years, I've made it many times, including here and here, and with very messy results here. Thanks to all that experience, sugar syrup no longer scares me the way it did.
It helps that I have a great digital thermometer to help me with things that need to be cooked to a certain temperature, as the praline mixture did. You start by melting a couple tablespoons of butter, then adding white and dark brown sugars and sour cream. The mixture is brought to a boil, then cooked to a temperature of 240 degrees F. I can set my thermometer to tell me when it reaches a certain temperature (either when heating up or cooling off). Much less stressful than having to constantly check the temperature. Once the mixture is done cooking, you turn off the heat and stir in bourbon and vanilla, which makes it bubble a lot. Then after a couple minutes, you add the pecans and stir until the mixture starts to turn opaque and thicken a bit. Working fairly quickly, you drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and let them cool until set, about 30 minutes.
The verdict? These are really, really good. Sweet, yes, but the salt helps a bit with that. I've already made two batches because I gave away most of the first one as well as part of the second. That's probably a good thing, since I've had to restrain myself to not eat them all. How can you go wrong with pecans and brown sugar and bourbon? =) They've been a hit with everyone else who's tried them, as well. If you'd like to try these for yourself, you can find the recipe here. I definitely recommend it!