Friday, April 23, 2010

40. Praline Cookie Bars - Sweet and Nutty

Pralines just scream New Orleans!  They can be found for sale almost everywhere in that southern city. The origin of this sweet and nutty confection is not clear, but some say that pralines were invented in the 17th century by a French chef who named them after Compte du Plessis-Praslin.

The clever chef combined caramel and almonds to create a confection that became known as "praslin" after the Compte and from which the name praline is derived. Pralines were probably carried to New Orleans by settlers who substituted the available pecans for the almonds used in the original recipe...and so, the distinctive southern praline confection was created.

My family was not from the south, but one summer we took a road trip from our home in the Midwest to Florida...it was quite an adventure. In addition to the change in scenery, part of the trip was having to endure the long ride in a car that was not air conditioned. The farther south we drove the more we welcomed any reason to stop and get out of our hot, crowded prison-on-wheels. 

Luckily, massive and frequent billboards advertised everything from crocodile gardens to snake pits and beckoned us to deviate from our planned route. Pralines were also advertised...I had never heard of pralines but, someone named Aunt Sally must have cornered the market...she was selling them everywhere.

 We did  make a few unscheduled stops and I even got to see and taste real pralines. While I did not like them, today's recipe is for Praline Cookie Bars...which I think taste great. They are an easy finger food to take to a potluck or family get-to-gether.


Praline Cookie Bars





Graham Crackers (do not use generic)
1 C margarine
1 C brown sugar
1 C chopped pecans
Line a cookie sheet (15x10) with foil. (If your pan is larger, just fold up the edges of the foil to measure 15x10. Line the foil with graham crakers.

In a small pot add margarine and brown sugar. On med. heat, bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add nuts. Mix well. Pour mixture over crackers and carefully push the nuts evenly over crakers.

Bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for 10 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into oblong bars. Store in an air-tight container. Best eaten within 2-3 days.



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