Halloween Praline (Praw’ leen) in New Orleans (N’awlins)

New Orleans is connected to Halloween, pecans, and pralines.

Halloween is celebrated across the globe in countries like the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. It’s a night full of scary things, like ghosts, goblins, witches, mummies, monsters, spiders, pumpkins, and haunted houses. Halloween is a time to dress up in costume, carve pumpkins, go trick-or-treating, and venture into haunted houses. Of course, the best place to spend the Halloween holiday is in a haunted city. That is if you like to get scared!

New Orleans has a reputation for being haunted, making it an excellent place to experience Halloween festivities. The city’s history dates back to the early 1500s. It was founded by the French, ruled by the Spanish, and then purchased by the United States in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase.

New Orleans has been plagued by disease, natural disaster, and the constant struggle for more than 100 years. Mass quantities of people have passed through New Orleans, leaving an eerie feeling in the city. The practice of voodoo became quite popular and left a trace of the haunt (that remains today) on every corner.

Influenced by a variety of cultures, including that of the French, Spanish, African and Native Americans, New Orleans has developed a unique culture. Cajun people live in the bayous of New Orleans and speak French Cajun. Many English words spoken by Cajuns are difficult to understand right away due to their accents.

For example, Pecan is pronounced “Peck on;” Praline, “Praw’ leen;” and New Orleans, “N’awlins.”

New Orleans is widely known for Pecans and is the home of the praline. Pecans are grown throughout the South. In the late 1770s, it was the French and the Spanish that identified and leveraged the potential of pecans. In 1802, the French were exporting pecans into the West Indies, and New Orleans became a vital player of marketing pecans when the French invaded the city.

The stories of how pralines came to be are multiple; however, one piece of each story remains consistent: Clement Lassagne was there at the birth of pralines. While pralines are one of the oldest recipes adopted from the French Tradition, their story evolved in the States. The recipe itself changed a lot once it made it over to the United States from France. At first, the recipe called for various nuts. Today, pralines are predominantly made with pecans. Pecans became the choice nut in the recipes we follow today most likely because pecans are abundant and wild in the south.

Pralines are candied (sugar-coated) pecans. There are a variety of recipes available for pralines, but the basic ingredients in nearly all of the recipes include sugar, milk, butter, and pecans. You can use pecan halves or pecan pieces in your recipe, depending on your preference. Sweet and crunchy, pralines are an all-time favorite treat from the South.

Pralines are delicious and easy to make. Truly a perfect addition to any holiday. Make a big batch and hand them out to trick-or-treaters, co-workers, family, and friends as holiday gifts, Halloween or otherwise!

Written by Lisa Saremi