Monday, June 5, 2006

Charleston Pralines

I had to look up what a praline is, because I’ve seen so many different versions over the years. And it’s really not helped me to figure out what exactly is and isn’t a praline. In Europe a praline is usually a nut and sugar paste, often used as a filling.

But for the purposes of this post, in the American South the praline is a highly nutted fudge - composed of sugar and butter and sometimes cream that’s caramelized to a dry, crumbly, melt-in-your mouth consistency. Some pralines, such as those from Texas are a bit softer like a caramel.


These pralines, in plain and chocolate are from the Charleston Candy Kitchen (they also have a store in Savannah), a gift from my vacationing neighbors. They’re sizable plops filled with plump and sweet pecans. The candy mixture melts in the mouth with a slight cooling feeling. At first there’s a slight grain of the sugar and a moment later it’s all collapsed into a thick and sweet syrup on the tongue with a strong pecan/maple flavor.

The chocolate ones had the addition of cocoa to them, but it wasn’t quite as satisfying as a good chocolate fudge because it lacked that creamy component. They were tasty, but the plain ones were more satisfying in their pure expression of pecan-ness. I ate them all ... it was probably well over a half a pound and it took me about 30 hours, but I wolfed all four pieces down. I’m glad they didn’t come with a nutrition label.

Pralines are kind of like fudge. I don’t often buy them but if I do have them, it’s a regional thing. Kind of like salt water taffy ... it’s the kind of candy you bring home from a trip. Maybe next week I’ll blog about the chocolate covered macadamia nuts from Hawaii.

Does anyone else know of regional candies that folks bring back as gifts? What was the best one you got?

Name: Pecan Pralines
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Charleston Candy Kitchen
Place Purchased: Charleston Candy Kitchen
Price: unknown
Size: 10 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:44 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. My mother has a fondness for salt water taffy, so I used to send her some when I would visit a beach. But the best regional specialty I’ve ever received are from friends visiting Lititz! I thought Wilbur Buds were fabulous, until a friend brought us some of those triple-coated almonds (not sure that’s the right name, though)

    Comment by Tricia on 6/05/06 at 5:06 am #
  2. I have a coworker who brings in Bourbon chocolates when he comes back from a visit to his Kentucky roots.  And he always advises us not to have too many prior to meetings with higher ups.

    And recently I found sponge candy which is supposedly a big Buffalo, NY thing. It’s excellent, and I’d totally bring that back to people after a trip there (or I’d eat it all on the way home).

    I can’t think of any candies specific to Maryland though.  Other foods yes, but not candy.

    Comment by g on 6/05/06 at 5:14 am #
  3. I have a lot of family in Anchorage, and in every gift shop/souvenir shop/airport en route, they sell little chocolates in the shape of moose droppings.  Mmmm… ha ha.  I can’t vouch for how they taste, because I’ve never tried any, but they’re very popular.

    Also, isn’t Marrionberry jam a big thing if you go to the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, etc.)?  I believe I saw a lot of it there.  Not exactly candy, but a sugar/fruit creation, so kind of… just wobblier.  ha ha.

    Comment by kirsti on 6/05/06 at 7:43 am #
  4. When I researched penuche fudge a few months ago (and posted about it: - sorry for the shameless plug…) I found that it is pretty specific to New England.  I love the stuff, it’s impossible to stop eating (much like pralines).  It’s more or less a bar form of a praline, really.  As in:  A chocolate-chip cookie is to a Toll House bar what a praline is to penuche.  Sometimes the SAT analogies help to illuminate matters…

    Comment by Joanna on 6/05/06 at 7:53 am #
  5. Maple syrup candy from Vermont! Wow, that was good.

    Comment by desertwind on 6/05/06 at 11:00 am #
  6. Being British, Peanut Butter M&M’s are regional candy, and if you bring them back from a holiday you get mobbed by people stealing your sweet, sweet imported candy. (Seriously, I bought about three big bags back for my office (6 people in it) and they disappeared in about an hour).

    Almond ones are my favourite though.

    Comment by Andy on 6/05/06 at 8:45 pm #
  7. our regional candy is the praline, so i can’t really add much to what you already wrote! i’m not sure if new orleans pralines are different from charleston ones, though. but i love love love them!

    funny what andy says about peanut butter m&ms;. when i went to london last november, my friend’s boyfriend requested i bring any and every variety of reese’s product i could find. so i guess the brits don’t get as much peanut butter/chocolate as we do!

    Comment by Pam on 6/06/06 at 7:21 am #
  8. Cybele, it’s me, the family friend. I hope the Expo is fulfilling your wildest dreams.  Head on over to Mr. Kites on Rush and Elm.  A co-worker/candyfreak is addicted to the Fairy Food there.  Run, don’t walk.

    Comment by christy on 6/06/06 at 9:26 am #
  9. It was so wierd to see Pralines from the Charleston Candy Kitchen on the blog.  I am from Savannah and grew up on these things from the Savannah store.  Whenever I visit home, I always have to bring some back with me.  I agree they are quite tasty but extemely rich.

    Comment by Mandy on 6/06/06 at 7:14 pm #
  10. Cybele's avatar

    Sounds like there are good things to be had from just about every part of the country.

    Other things I’ve found out that folks bring back:

    Fran’s Caramels from Seattle
    Frangos from either Washington State or Chicago
    Chocolate Covered Pretzels from Pennsylvania
    Huckleberry things from Montana

    I wonder what Florida is known for?

    Christy - I didn’t get to go ANYWHERE in Chicago, dangit!

    Comment by Cybele on 6/13/06 at 11:47 am #
  11. I’m from FL and my mom LOVES to send out holiday gifts filled with candies made from Key Limes… I guess they aren’t too famous but they hit the sweet/sour spot for me!

    Comment by kat on 6/14/06 at 3:52 pm #
  12. Re pralines:  I think in french it’s pronounced “prah-lee-nay” and in English, “pray-leen,” for what that’s worth.  Doesn’t really illustrate the difference between the two.

    In addition to Salt Water Taffy from the shore, Atlantic City used to (I don’t know if it does anymore) have a store that sold THE most incredible macaroons.  The almond/french kind, as opposed to the coconut/passover kind.  I wish I remembered the name of the store.  I had a friend who always brought those from Atlantic City.  Not candy. . .but close enough.

    Comment by Karen on 6/24/06 at 9:04 pm #
  13. Oh, and gifts from Virginia?  Virginia Peanuts.  Preferably from the Virginia Diner.

    Comment by Karen on 6/24/06 at 9:05 pm #
  14. Love your blog smile About the praline definition, I think it is as follows:

    - praline is a chique chocolate candy with a filling;
    - pralin? is the default filling of pralines consisting of (hazel)nuts and cocoa.

    But many people mix them and we usually know what we mean, right? smile

    Comment by G on 6/27/06 at 4:20 am #
  15. I just visited Charleston and brought home some pralines.  They are delicious.  Can’t wait to go back and buy some more.  They are out of this world when they are still warm.  I love the sampels as well.  That is what sold me on them.

    Comment by Linda Harper on 5/13/07 at 1:52 pm #
  16. Mandy,  It should not be a surprise…The Charleston Candy Kitchen was originally called “Savannah Candy Kitchen”.  The owners of the Savannah Candy Kitchen opened another store on Market Street in Charleston.  The name was changed for obvious reasons but it should be noted that they are in fact owned by the same people, and there products are the exact same.

    Comment by Timothy Crawford on 2/13/08 at 3:34 am #
  17. Commenting on pralines.
    I am from the American south and have had pralines from every southern state. By far the best praline you will ever eat comes from a lady who makes and sells them on the bank of the river boat crossing in St. Francisville, Louisiana. For the best chewy praline look to Texas.

    Comment by K on 4/29/08 at 2:29 pm #
  18. Unless there’s an accent grave on that final e in the french spelling, it would be pronounced “prah-leen” with the r being guttural- not a lot different than the American/Southern pronunciation. As for the proper pronunciation of “pecan,” I leave that entirely up to the reader.
    However you pronounce it, I am addicted to and in love with them, and the ones from River Street Sweets (Sorry you Savannah Candy Kitchen lovers) are the pentultimate praline you can get on the streets of Savannah.

    Comment by GWSTB on 10/27/12 at 11:03 pm #
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