Pecan-filled pralines, Southern Divinity, Cheese Straws; these are the steadfast, staple treats at the Little House. The rest of the treats are made at the whim of the seasons and Lyla’s creativity. If you’re joining us in the summer we’ll have homemade ice cream in flavors like vanilla, german chocolate, or pralines & cream. You can order up a milkshake or a sundae with homemade hot fudge. If you stop by in the fall or winter you might be lucky enough land a fried pie (if they haven’t already sold out!), a pan or orange rolls, or a slice of the most delicious apple cake you’ve ever tasted. Whatever the season, we’ve got the treats to guarantee an improvement!
Legend has it that pralines are named for a 17th century French diplomat with a hankering for sugared almonds. His title was Marshal de Plessis-Praslin and thanks to his French origins, the southern praline, like its principal ingredient, remains at the center of a heated pronunciation debate. Cue the Louis Armstrong. You say PE-CAN, I say PE-CAHN…. You say PRAH-LINE; I say PRAY-LINE….
Almond may be an easier nut to pronounce, but almonds weren’t in abundance in the American colonies to which Ursuline nuns traveled in the late 18th century. The nuns sailed into the Gulf of Mexico in order to chaperone and educate young, virtuous ladies exported from France to marry bachelor colonists in New Orleans. Luckily for us, the nuns made the recipe for pralines part of their culinary curriculum.
That’s a little of what we do know. Tracking the origins of the southern praline proves a little more difficult. We don’t know who decided to throw in the hard, groovy fruit of the pecan tree or who dared to improve the confection by adding cream, but whoever did it, we’re thankful for his or her creativity and the caramel-colored southern delicacy that it brought into existence.
So Prah-line, Pray-line. Pe-can, Pe-cahn.
You provide the pronunciation.
We’ll provide the pralines.
Supposedly Divinity’s name derives from the exclamation one should make after trying it for the first time. And while it is “Divine!” we’d also like to attribute its name to the nearly divine powers of the women who made it before the dawn of the electric mixer. Those women were saints.
Divinity fudge debuted alongside the rise in popularity of corn syrup brands like Karo and… well… Karo. The ingredients are deceptive in their simplicity: corn syrup, refined sugar, egg whites, a little vanilla, and if you’re smart, pecans. Getting the perfect dollop of divinity, however, is anything but simple. Let’s just say that one or two of Lyla’s trusted stand mixers have met their maker trying to beat that candy into the pure white miracle it becomes when it’s made right. Lyla has had a fine teacher, too.
Before she was old enough to learn her multiplication tables, Lyla’s mother, Lyla, was making cakes from scratch and icing them with her homemade divinity. Throw in some toasted pecans and you’ve got a candy so delicate and divine it’s almost impossible to find. Come try it at Lyla’s Little House!