Mexican chocolate pralines DSC8036

Mexican chocolate pralines

When I was invited to a party where Southern pork dishes were being celebrated, the decision on what to bring was a no-brainer: Mexican chocolate pralines. Now before you call my contribution a little odd, let me explain myself.

My first (and more obvious) choice was to make cookies with lard. I didn’t have any lard on hand, however, so I went to the Union Square farmers’ market to pick up a tub. But a snowstorm had threatened to blanket the city and my preferred lard vendor wasn’t there; clearly, I had to come up with another plan.

I’ve been spending lots of time lately reading old cookbooks. I’m curious to see what our ancestors ate and to see when certain dishes may have come into the common culinary vernacular. When looking for inspiration, I recalled that I had recently come across an old Mexican-candy recipe that called for piloncillo (or brown sugar) to be cooked with water and a strip of raw bacon.

Now, I know bacon in a dessert is a trendy thing these days, but I was intrigued to see it listed in a 100-year-old recipe. And while I didn’t have lard to make cookies, bacon was easily attainable. In another cookbook, I had seen a recipe for Mexican-chocolate pralines, which are different from traditional Texas pecan pralines in that they’re have melted chocolate in the base. So for the pork-themed feast, I decided to combine the two thoughts and make Mexican-chocolate pralines with bacon.

Making a first-time dish to share at a large gathering is always brave if not foolish. And while the flavor of these pralines was pleasing, the texture was too delicate. So instead of patties thick with pecans and bacon, I had broken chips and shards instead. My pralines looked sad. Plus you couldn’t even really taste the bacon! But I was out of time and couldn’t show up empty handed so I threw the pieces into a tin and headed to the party.

Mexican chocolate pralines  | Homesick Texan

I suppose my offering these praline pieces was the equivalent of a student who shows a failed project to a teacher to prove that she has at least tried to complete the assignment. I gave myself about a C for effort.

But then a strange thing happened. While at the party, I witnessed people eating the Mexican-chocolate praline pieces. And they were smiling! With pleasure! So, with a little work I knew I could make the Mexican chocolate pralines into something special.

Buoyed by my friends’ comments, the next day I attempted to make these pralines again. I threw out the bacon (even though it had been the primary impetus to make these in the first place), added more nuts, let the candy cook longer and threw in some orange zest for a hint of brightness. And after an hour of letting the pralines harden, I had a long sheet of parchment paper lined with a fine batch of Mexican chocolate pralines.

If you’re looking for Valentine’s inspiration, these take little time and effort to make but are very impressive (even when they’re not entirely perfect). But you don’t need a special occasion to eat them, as they’re a simple pleasure that can be enjoyed at any time.

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5 from 1 vote

Mexican chocolate pralines

Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 20 pralines
Author Adapted by Lisa Fain from Aprovecho

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole pecans
  • 1 disc Mexican hot chocolate, such as Ibarra
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In an oven set at 350 °F, roast the pecans for 10 minutes. After roasting, chop half of the pecans, leaving the other half whole.
  • In a large pot, melt together on medium heat the chocolates, sugars, pecans, milk, butter, cinnamon, orange zest, cayenne, and salt, stirring occasionally. Place a candy thermometer in the pot to monitor the heat. When it reaches 235°F, remove from the heat. Add the vanilla and stir the pot for 2 minutes. There should be a bit of shine to the candy but the candy will be a bit more thick.
  • Scoop pralines onto parchment paper. (If it’s too stiff, add warm water to mixture.) Let cool for an hour and remove. They will still be a bit shiny but will lose that shine after a few hours. No matter, they’re still delicious! They will keep covered for 5 days.

Notes

If you want to add bacon to these, I’d fry up four slices, crumble them and stir into praline when you add the vanilla.

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39 Comments

  1. Tasty Eats At Home says:

    Lisa, I'm making these for the second time, and I have to say, they are my new addiction. Yum. Question – do you think that they could be frozen for a few weeks?

  2. Lisa,

    Thanks SO MUCH for sharing this recipe. I have made your Mexican chocolate pralines twice for my family and friends. So easy and just the best. Think this may be my go to dessert/party treat for the year.

    For those who might be close to a Central Market (I was back in TX when I made these for the first time), you can buy all the spices in the bulk section. CM keeps the orange zest in back so be sure and ask.

    All the best!
    Jodi
    Boston via Dallas

  3. Kitchen Butterfly says:

    I'll be very upset tomorrow….if I don't find a candy thermometer!!!!!!!!! Love these….

  4. I'm another Beverly (hi out there!) and I saw these after having talked about pralines with my mom and godsister, commented on pralines on someone else's blog and suffered intense praline cravings. My oh my. While these are not the stuff of my childhood (my godmother would have shied away from cayenne in sweets), these are DIVINE. It was also my first time using a candy thermometer, and I survived! I'm taking these to book club and intend to make another batch next week. Also, since I am still in Texas (lucky me), I stopped by a Mexican food market and got some piloncillo, a cane sugar, and used that in place of the brown sugar. I think it adds an interesting subtle flavor, but that's just me.

    Thank you SO much for posting these! I'm off to discover more wonderful things on your blog!

  5. Mmmmm….I made these a couple of weeks ago and loved them! They are addictive, so give some away and save yourself! I love your blog!