How The Weather Can Affect Homemade Pralines

Decadent pecan pralines are the kind of sweet treat many people buy rather than make at home because they're anything but foolproof. You can find pralines in a range of styles across the southern U.S. though they're all variations of a cluster of buttery, caramelly goodness, chock full of pecans. Aunt Sally's Creole Pralines, for example, lists three styles of pralines for sale: the original, which is "thin and slightly crispy," the creamy, which has a more fudge-like texture, and the chewy, which features a gooey, stretchy caramel consistency.

Making candy at home can be a frustrating endeavor because there are so many things that can go wrong. When The Kitchn visited the New Orleans School of Cooking, for example, some of the tips that praline expert Anne Leonhard gave might seem to be mere common sense. Why did she include tips like "stick to the recipe?" Because making candy in general –- and pralines in particular -– requires precision. If you don't do it right, they won't turn out right. Even decisions like the pan to choose can affect your praline outcome ... according to Leonhard, it should be "bigger than you think you need." Even if you do everything right, you may still have praline problems if you happen to choose the wrong day. What can the weather possibly have to do with pralines?

It's all about the humidity

It's a bit ironic that swampy New Orleans is considered the center of the pecan praline universe, considering that humidity can affect your candy outcome, but it's true. Southern Living, in their guide for making better pecan pralines, explains that it's best to choose a cool, dry day to make your candy. If the day you've chosen is too warm and humid, you're liable to end up with crystallized sugar, giving your pecan pralines a sugary, grainy texture that's undesirable.

Once your sugar has crystallized, your praline game may be over. Though some recipes, like the one from sugar manufacturer Dixie Crystals, suggest adding a little water and reheating your pralines to try to rescue the mixture, you won't always be successful. Should your mixture crystallize, you don't have to throw it out; Southern Living recommends you crumble up the sugary pecans and use them as a topping for ice cream. But if you're in pursuit of pecan praline perfection with a perfectly smooth texture, you're better off checking the weather forecast and choosing a low-humidity day.