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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Pralines, Pralines Roses, Belgian Pralines and Pralulines. Pralines in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Pralines Roses.

Pralines began in the home of the French Count of Plessis-Praslin (1598 – 1675). The accepted tradition has the Count’s chef Clément finding the count’s children roasting sugar-dipped almonds over an open fire with the heat caramelizing the sugar.  Clément took the children’s recipe and served them to the Count and his guests, who loved them.  While this is unlikely to have been the first time that anyone roasted almonds dipped in sugar this time they received a great deal of publicity.  Over time the Praslin became Pralines.

(In the middle of the 17th century in France sugar would have been very expensive.  At that time France and most of Europe still used honey for sweeteners.  While cane sugar reached the mainland France regularly, it would have been too expensive for most.  It would be the middle of the 18th century before the process of extracting sugar from sugar beets was formulated; thank you Andreas Marggraf and Karl Achard).

Modern pralines recipes still use whole almonds and sugar, though to the original recipe have been added crushed walnuts and walnuts mixed with hazelnuts; other recipes use France’s favorite nut, the walnut.  Some recipes add crème fleurette, whipping cream, or crème fraîche

The Praline on French menus:

Crème Brulée aux Pralines Roses – A Creme Brulée decorated and flavored with pink pralines. Pink pralines are made with a drop of edible red food coloring added to the recipe.The creation of the pink praline is claimed by the city of Lyon. Amazing.
Croustillant Praliné, Sorbet au Citron de Menton à l’Anis Vert – Crispy pralines served with a sorbet made with lemons from Menton flavored with anis.
Menton on France’s Mediterranean coast borders with Italy and there citrus fruits are grown in its unique micro-climate that produces some of the best lemons in France. Menton has a lemon fete every year; it is held during a two week period from mid-February to early March. The exact date can be checked at the Fête Du Citron English language website: N.B. While driving to Menton on the coastal road you have to drive through Monte Carlo.
Soufflé Glacé à la Praline et Ananas Confits à la Vanille – An iced souffle flavored with vanilla served with pralines and pineapple confits. Fruits confit were created hundreds of years ago when the French preserved fruits through the winter by replacing their water content with honey. The ancient Egyptians already used honey to prevent infection of open wounds, and when the French used honey to replace the water in fruits and vegetables, they knew they the fruits and vegetable would not rot;  in a cool room fruits confit could be kept for years.  Today, sugar is used instead of honey
Praline tarts on sale.
 Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, Lyon, France.
La Douceur aux Deux Chocolats Croustillant Praliné – A sweet petit fours of two chocolates made with crispy pralines. Douceurs is an old French term for sweets or desserts.  Douceurs is used on menus in the same way a shop may try to make itself more interesting by calling itself Ye Olde Shoppe.
Le Malakoff aux Pralines Roses  Malakoffs served with pink pralines.  A Malakoff is a Gruyere cheese flavored donut whose origins date back to the Crimean War and a successful combined French-British attack on the Russian Fort Malakoff in 1855. (Malakoff is today within the city limits of Sevastapol, Ukraine).
Tarte Fine aux Pralines Roses, Rhubarbe Pochée, Glace Vanille Bourbon.  A tarte fine is a disk of puff pastry.  Here it is served with poached rhubarb and ice-cream flavored with Bourbon vanilla. Bourbon vanilla comes from the Indian Ocean islands of Reunion, Madagascar, Comoros, and Mauritius.  (The French island department of Reunion was called the Île de Bourbon until the execution of King Lous XVI in 1789 in the French revolution. The House of Bourbon produced all of France's kings beginning with King Henry IV  (1553 – 1610). Bourbon whiskey’s name is also linked to the name of the French kings just as the US State of Louisiana is named after the French King Louis XIV (1643 to 1715)). 
Mille-Feuille aux Fraises, Glace aux Pralines  - A mille-feuille, thin leaves of puff pastry separated by slices of strawberries glazed on top with pralines. 
Pâtisserie in Châlons-en-Champagne
Soufflé Glacé a l'Absinthe, Gaufre aux Pralines Roses – An iced soufflé flavored with absinthe and served with a waffle flavored with pink pralines.
The fame of pralines spread when the Count’s chef Clement retired from the Count’s service. Then Clement opened a shop in a village called Montargis in the department of Loiret, in the Centre, the Val de Loire;  it is just 70 km (43 miles ) from Orleans and about 110 km (68 miles) from Paris.  The shop is now called Confiserie Mazet. The present owners purchased the shop from the founding family in 1903. Mazet also has a shop in Paris.
If you are visiting the area, Montargs is a pretty, walkable town with canals and flowers. Every year from the beginning of October they have a Mois de la Gastronomie, a month of gastronomy, during this month the local restaurants produce special locally sourced menus and desserts built around pralines.

The website for Montargis is in French only but easily understood using the Bing and Google translate apps:
Belgian pralines

Belgian pralines began to be sold at the beginning of the 20th century.  They are filled chocolates, and the best are made by top of the line Belgian chocolatiers though only a few are filled with nuts; most are filled with soft chocolate and liquors, etc.
Belgian Pralines

American pralines

 American pralines have their history linked to French immigrants who brought the recipe to Louisiana.  Today most American pralines are made with brown sugar and pecans. (The United States acquired the territory of Louisiana in 1803 for $15 million, and that purchase joined the East and West coasts of the USA).
American Praline Cookies


Praluline  - A brioche cake made with butter and filled with pink pralines; it was created by Auguste Pralus in 1955 in his chocolaterie in the city of Roanne, in the department of the Loire in the new super region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
A Praluline may look odd but they taste terrific, and you may buy originals at Pralus owned chocolateries scattered around France. If you visit Roanne, there are many excellent imitations. The Praluline is now considered a specialty of Le Pays Roannais, the area in and around the city of Roanne. 

A Praluline

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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2018.

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