It's not grainy or chewable, but then again, it's not hard. What you'll find in common between the different recipes is that walnut chocolates consist of these main components: nuts, sugar, butter, and milk or cream of some kind. A praline is a type of sugary candy with a nutty flavor. Say “praline,” they usually refer to the creamy, sweet, nutty sweet treat popular in the American South.
However, in other parts of the world, “praline” could mean something quite different. You'd be surprised at how divisive the question can be. For what it's worth, the old Merriam-Webster seems to be firmly on the team, prah-lean, do with that information whatever you want. Experts aren't sure exactly when or how American chocolates came into existence, but many people believe that they are named after a 17th-century French diplomat named Caesar, Duke of Choiseul, Count of Plessis-Praslin.
The diplomat's personal chef, Clement Lassagne, is often credited with creating a sugary treat made with almonds and caramelized sugar. So how did chocolates get to the United States? Well, according to legend, Ursuline nuns brought them from France to New Orleans in the 1720s. Over time, subtle changes were made to the recipe, in addition to granulated brown sugar, walnuts instead of almonds, and the chocolates we know and love were born. To learn more about the historical importance of chocolates (and the women who prepared them), read Núñez's fantastic thesis in its entirety right here.
You don't need a lot of ingredients to make irresistible chocolates. A good candy thermometer is a must for making pralines, as reaching (but not exceeding) the perfect temperature creates that delightfully decadent flavor and texture. I wanted to share walnut chocolates from the South as part of my American Eats series representing Georgia, since it produces more nuts than any other state in the country. If you love walnuts, you might also want to try my classic pecan pie or these delicious pecan pie cheesecake bars.
The classic walnut praline is my favorite, but you can also order a chocolate and nut praline and they are delicious.