praline cookies

This may be the first time I have ever posted a recipe on my blog, so to compensate for the Domestic Goddess Overdose-ness of it all, here’s the background story…

I’m pretty good at making entrees, but I’m not very adept with desserts. I’ve tried to make my grandmother’s buttermilk fudge recipe on numerous occasions, and I have about a 30% success rate with it; most of the time, it turns out like caramel. Still yummy, but not what I was going for. And a few weeks ago, I tried to make homemade cookies for my neighbor – the one who checked on our cats when Dave and I were flooded out of our town – and they were a disaster. I was trying to make sugar cookies, and even though I followed the recipe directions exactly, they ended up tasting like hard, flat breakfast biscuits. (Note to you Brits: biscuits are not the same thing as cookies in this country. They’re more like dinner rolls.) I ended up making her slice-and-bake cookies and then smearing them with homemade frosting so she wouldn’t know the difference. As it turns out, frosting is pretty easy to make.

Point being, this whole Holiday Baking Day with the girls had me a little anxious, since I was pretty well convinced that I suck at making desserts. I asked my friend Janet for ideas, and she directed me to Martha Stewart’s recipe site. Riiiight. Because that’s attainable. Well, it is attainable if you’re Janet; everything she makes looks like it should be photographed for a magazine. The girl has seriously got the Mad Cooking Skillz. But Martha Stewart’s name alone scares the bejeezus out of me, so I was too intimidated to try anything there.

So, I asked my mom. She suggested my great-grandmother’s recipe for praline cookies, but she warned me that they aren’t always a hit. Apparently my dad doesn’t like them because he says they aren’t sweet enough. I thought that might be perfect, since Dave doesn’t like regular pralines because he says they’re too sweet. It’s not his fault, he didn’t grow up in this country, so he hasn’t adapted to our super-sugary, make-your-teeth-hurt desserts.

(Random exception: a couple of months ago, I had a pregnancy craving and came home with a box of Twinkies. Dave had never tried them before, so he had one and decided that they were awesome. It made me laugh because who on earth decides at 35 that they like Twinkies? But between the two of us, we wolfed down quite a few before we decided that we were sick of them.)  

Anyway, since most of the people involved in the Holiday Baking Day thing weren’t from the south, and probably had no idea what a praline was to begin with, and therefore would have no basis for comparison or judgment, I decided to attempt the praline cookies. And that, folks, is the very long story of how this recipe came about.

Praline Cookies
(courtesy of my great-grandmother, who in our family is referred to as Ma Mere, because we’re just crazy French-Spanish-Creole south Louisiana folk like that)

* 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)      
* 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 1/2 cups flour
* pinch of salt
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 cup pecan halves

Let butter sit out at room temperature until soft. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, mix softened butter and sugar, and beat with electric beater until smooth.

Add egg and mix well. Then add flour, salt and vanilla. Mix again.

Add pecan pieces (then stir, don’t use electric mixer). When well mixed, shape into balls about the size of a pecan, place on a buttered cookie sheet and flatten to about 1/4″ thick.

Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 3 dozen.

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