If you feel like hangin’ in the Treme but can’t make it down to New Orleans, consider heading into your kitchen for a taste of the Emerald City. A new cookbook, “Treme: Stories and Recipes From the Heart of New Orleans,” is based on the HBO series “Treme.” The stories are told through the voices of the characters on the show, and the recipes are theirs as well. Here’s character LaDonna Batiste-Williams’ recipe for microwave pralines. Buck jumpin’ and havin fun!
1 pound light brown sugar
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream, plus 1 to 3 teaspoons cream or milk for thinning batter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups pecan halves, cut in half again (in other words, not too big or small)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Line a heat-proof surface like a countertop or 2 baking sheets with wax paper.
In an 8-cup microwave-safe glass measuring cup with a handle, combine the brown sugar, cream and corn syrup, mixing until all the sugar lumps are dissolved and the batter is well blended.
Position the measuring cup in the microwave so you can see how the batter inside measures; the batter will be at or near the 2 1/2-cup mark. Microwave on high without covering or stirring, watching it continuously, until the mixture slowly bubbles up to slightly higher than the 8-cup mark and then deflates to near the 4 1/2-cup mark, 10 to 16 minutes (depending on how quickly your microwave cooks). Do not open the microwave during the cooking process and, if in doubt, cook for less time, not more.
(If you want to make praline sauce instead of pralines, let the batter cook as directed until it has expanded to slightly over the 8-cup mark and then has slowly deflated just to the 7-cup mark. Use warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate the leftovers, tightly covered, for up to 1 week.)
Carefully remove the very hot measuring cup from the microwave and, using a sturdy metal mixing spoon, gently stir in the pecans, butter and vanilla, being careful to not splash any of the hot mixture on your skin. Continue stirring until the mixture is noticeably less glossy, about 3 minutes.
Working quickly, and using two spoons, scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the wax paper, about 1 inch apart and, using a second tablespoon to push the batter off the mixing spoon. If necessary, thin the batter with the remaining 1 to 3 teaspoons of cream as you reach the end of the batter and it thickens as it cools. Let the pralines cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes, then serve as soon as possible. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Makes 24 to 34 two-inch pralines, or 3 cups of praline sauce.
– Ralph Raffio