Buttermilk Bacon Pralines

Gluten-Free, Southern / Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009


You know how sometimes you flip through a cookbook or magazine, and you see a recipe that gets stuck in your craw? Maybe something with an amazing photo or an interesting ingredient or something that just sounds like it might make your life complete? Me, too.

But then there are those times when I get stuck on something that doesn’t even remotely make sense – like my infatuation with these Buttermilk Bacon Pralines from Martha Hall Foose’s “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea.”

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t found many bacon desserts that sound all that appetizing. BLTs? Yes. Bacon simmering in a big pot of beans? Definitely. Bacon crumbled on my salad or baked potato? Oh, yeah. I thoroughly agree that bacon is the candy of meat; I’ve just never wanted it in my cake, pie or cookies.

Then I found these pralines.

Pralines are a Louisiana specialty, most likely derived from an almond confection created by a chef in the home of French diplomat Cesar du Plessis-Praslin in the 1600s. The theory is that French settlers brought the recipe to New Orleans, substituted the native pecans for the almonds and added cream to form a sweet, chewy candy. This variation, which trades the cream for buttermilk and adds four slices of crisp, crumbled bacon, transforms the praline from a confection into an amuse-bouche, a one-bite hors d’oeuvre beloved by the creators of Top Chef quickfire challenges.

Buttermilk Bacon Pralines taste completely different from the original – surprisingly savory, as well as sweet, creamy, crunchy and wonderfully nutty. So, it’s good that pralines are so easy to make. First, you heat the sugars, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda and salt to 235 degrees F. Then you add the butter, vanilla, pecans, orange zest and bacon; beat the mixture with a wooden spoon; and drop it by teaspoonfuls onto buttered parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Half an hour later, the mysterious ooze will have transformed into the most infatuation-inducing pralines.

I’m not exactly sure what type of party should serve these hors d’oeuvres, but in the words of Liz Lemon, I want to go to there.

Buttermilk Bacon Pralines

Adapted from Martha Hall Foose’s “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea”

Makes 24 small pralines

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter*
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  1. In a heavy-bottomed, deep saucepan, combine the sugars, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda and salt over medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
  2. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, pecans, orange zest and bacon. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
  3. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a silicone mat or buttered parchment paper. Let stand 30 minutes, or until cool. Store in an airtight container.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Use GF butter.

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30 thoughts on “Buttermilk Bacon Pralines

  1. Wow – they look great! Much better than those pig lickers someone sent me a link to yesterday (crisp bacon rashers dipped in chocolate).

    I'm not sure what occasion would best suit these little do-dads either but I can guarantee they won't turn up at a bar mitzvah!

    Would they be a good garnish for a buttercream topped cupcake? I can see it.

  2. MY BABY SHOWER IS THAT TYPE OF PARTY. WOW. either these or deep fried bacon dipped in chocolate… one or the other.

  3. We just had New Orleans Pralines a couple of weeks ago from a local bakery. They look the same, minus the bacon. They were delicious! I cannot wait to try these!

  4. Hmmm, they do sound interesting and in your photo they do look yummy! Okay, now I"M curious.

  5. Um.. well, they *look* good. I think I'll trust you on the wonder of these though. I'm not a fan of bacon myself, and to add it to something that is remotely sweet might just ruin it forever. Glad you enjoyed it though!

  6. I've heard of people coating bacon with brown sugar and baking it until it's crisp and caramelized. These can't be so different in flavor from that . And bloggers everywhere sing the praises of salted caramel, so why not bacon pralines? I'm intrigued!

  7. I know what you mean about the sound of bacon desserts. A con law professor friend of mine once tried a bacon chocolate bar and declared it "An abomination. If it were a person, it would be ordered to stay 100 yards away from playgrounds, schools, or any other place that small children congregate." While I don't generally feel THAT strong about bacon/sweet combos, I see his point. And yet this one intrigues me. Maybe it's the absence of chocolate, but it just sounds like it would really work, and improve just about any party.

  8. I am so into ice cream right now, so I could see crumbling these into a churning pot of ice cream with maybe a maple flavored or butter-pecan base? Oh honey, this southern girl is about to clock out early and get herself some bacon at the store!

  9. I have the cookbook and I bought it solely on the cover. I am from the south and I LOVE sweet tea so it was just prefect. I do believe that I will be making these. I think I need to break out the cookbook and fix something southern:)

  10. I can see this being a hit around here with the guys, and possibly myself…a little touch of bacon never hurt anything. Very very interesting and just the sort of thing to serve at a party to make people think that I just might be very very interesting. Stealing.

  11. […] think it will help to get a candy thermometer when caramelizing sugar, especially for a recipe like this where ingredients get complicated and level of sweetness and richness is key to […]

  12. Ohhhh, boy do those sound good. Like having a bite of your bacon after it's touched the maple syrup for your french toast. Well, lot's of bites ;-) Mmmmm, delicious!!

  13. I've had this post bookmarked for a while, and I just made these–delicious!! I substituted 1 tbsp of bacon grease for 1tbsp of butter. Also, mine reached 235 degrees well before 20 minutes.

  14. I have made these three times in the past two weeks; the first two batches disappeared into the suitcases and kitchens of friends and visitors. The key seems to be getting the salt/sweet taste balanced… too little salt and they lose something; just enough really brings out the buttery taste of the buttermilk. Also, a thermometer is essential; I found the best results came about two degrees past soft ball. Fresh orange zest is key–they lose something serious without it, and I doubled the vanilla. As for taste, the first few bites seem odd, the next seem interesting… after that, it's addiction, pure and simple. Be forewarned.

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