Friday, October 03, 2008

Nutty Candy.

Today is the end of Confectionary week at the Old Foodie. I want to talk to you about prawlongs. Prawlongs (or prawlins) appear in a couple of old confectionary books, and I have been intrigued about the name for a while. I was going to ask your help in puzzling out what they are, as the OED, Google, and Wikipedia are of no use at all. Silly me. I should have looked at the recipes – I mean, really looked at them. When I did, the answer was embarrassingly obvious. Prawlongs are Pralines, which the OED does know about. They are ‘a confection made by browning almonds or other nuts in boiling sugar.’ Mrs. Kettilby in her book Above 300 Receipts (1714) also calls them Fry’d Almonds, which I like. There is nothing so consistent as inconsistency in culinary language however, and one of the supporting quotations in the OED is from Canada, and refers to ‘a small quantity of praline, made of roasted maize, rendered palatable with sugar’ in a camp-food context. Another says ‘It was the fragrance of prawleens, that compound of New Orleans molasses, brown sugar, chocolate, and butter.

For no better reason than that his name fits his subject, I have chosen a recipe for prawlongs from Frederick Nutt’s The Complete Confectioner, published in 1807.

He gives recipes for lemon, orange, pistachio (red), pistachio (white), burnt filbert (red), and orange flower prawlongs, as well as burnt almonds and filberts.

Burnt Filbert Prawlongs, Red.
Take some Barcelona nuts and crack them, put the kernals into a copper pan or sheet, and put them in the oven to roast; have a pan with syrup boiling and let it boil till it becomes almost to carimel; put a little cochineal in a cup, when the sugar is boiled, add it to it and the filberts, and stir them very much with a large wooden spoon, till you find the sugar is got hard around them; put them in a sieve, and separate them which stick together; have another pan, with syrup in, and boil it as before and as high; put the same quantity of cochineal in, and mix them as before, because the second time you do them, the finer the colour will be, and then put them in your box.

Apart from the fact that it sounds delicious, there are two other great things about this recipe. Firstly, it gives me another new-old food word – ‘Barcelona’ in relation to filberts (and their alter-ego, the hazelnut). Secondly, I think it may have given me a topic for next week– cochineal.

In the meanwhile, if any of you hail from New Orleans, and can treat us all to a recipe for the local version of prawleens, with chocolate, butter, and molasses, I would be most delighted.

Quotation for the Day …

Is dandy,
But liquor
Is quicker.
Ogden Nash.


Liz + Louka said...

Apart from the cochineal, this sounds like those sugar-coated nut makers with the hemispherical copper pans who seem to be at every market these days. Apropos of which, the first time I saw them was at Balmain Markets. I was alerted by overhearing two women: "Have you seen the man with the honey coated nuts?" - "Lead me to him!"

The Old Foodie said...

Hhi LizLouka
I love that little anecdote!

Anonymous said...

Here you are, direct from New Orleans, a praline recipe:

2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
3/4 stick of butter
1 pinch of salt
1 large kitchen spoon of dark Karo syrup (not quite 1/4 cup)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2-5 cups pecan halves, depending on your preference (I used about 2 ½ cups)

Combine sugars, milk, butter, salt and Karo syrup in a saucepan and cook until mixture reaches soft ball stage. Add pecan halves and vanilla; return to boil, let mixture reach soft ball stage again. Remove from heat and beat until mixture turns glossy and begins to thicken (the more pecans you’ve added, the quicker this step, the fewer pecans, the longer). Drop quickly onto wax paper.

I thought the chocolate ones were a modern invention--and had always scoffed at them accordingly!

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Anonymous - this is fantastic, thankyou! I am definitely going to try these, if I can get hold of some Karo syrup. I think ordinary glucose syrup can be substituted, but I know I have seen Karo occasionally here.

Unknown said...

Yum. And thanks to Anonymous. My dad is from Florida and my mom used to make pecan pralines, probably from a recipe his mother taught her. I love them, but don't have the recipe, so now's my chance to revive an old favorite from my childhood.

In the version I'm used to, the praline looks a bit like a cookie studded with pecans.

Unknown said...

I grew up with pecan pralines and I love them. The version I'm used to has a fairly high candy to nut ratio, so that it looks a lot like a cookie studded with nuts, rather than candied nuts. Thanks to the anonymous poster for the recipe, I'll have to try that, since I don't have the recipe my mother used to use.

BTW - there is a very similar Mexican confection that can be purchased in stores in some parts of the Southwestern U.S., but I don't know the name off the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever had the sugar coated filberts (hazelnuts) candy sometimes called "Moth Balls" or "Snow Balls"(which they resemble)? They were often given to me by my Grandmother as a special treat. They were like a hard candy at first but as you rolled them around in your mouth - they had a real creamy and delicious sugary coating which you enjoyed for awhile until you got to the filbert in the middle? I can't find them anywhere. Can you help me find these "Old Fashioned" candies?

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous: I have looked high and low for the same sugar coated filberts. When a young child in Indiana, our family drug store carried these. I found them again at -they are $14. a pound! Called "Cream filberts (Moth balls).