When I was a girl, it was a great treat for my Mom and me to search out a Baskin-Robbins store to indulge in a cone of pralines and cream ice cream.
This was a rare occasion, because I grew up in a very rural area. There were no franchise stores of any kind for hours in any direction.
I am so lucky that now Emma, 11, humors me with the same desire. And we even have a Baskin-Robbins right in Durango!
Emma wanted to know exactly what pralines were, so we made some. This was strictly between the two of us – a big-girl project that was too dangerous for the younger siblings. Making candy needs concentration because temperatures need to be monitored, and it is really, really hot.
While Molly and Clay were having their customary after-dinner trampoline jump, Emma added the few ingredients into a saucepan. It is really easy and not at all healthy – just sugar, butter and cream.
She stirred and watched faithfully for the mixture to turn into candy. It was not quite quick enough for her, but about 10 minutes later, the stuff was at the soft-ball stage of candy-making, which is 240 F.
She poured in the pecans and stirred for another minute until the mixture looked smooth, then we dropped spoonfuls onto a sheet pan to cool and harden.
After about 30 minutes, we were breaking off little pieces every time we walked by. Emma remarked that they melt in your mouth, which is absolutely right.
Molly and Clay couldn’t keep their fingers off the pan, either. I had to get mean about the candy or someone was going to end up sick to his or her stomach – maybe even me.
This is not a recipe for little kids, because the mixture gets too hot to risk any splattering on delicate, young skin. But older kids might get a kick out of making their own candy.
Tomorrow we will make the ice cream, if there are any pralines left.
email@example.com. Margery Reed Poitras is a former professional chef who now cooks for her kids and occasionally for the more mature palate.