Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

praline, in its simplest form a confection of nuts and sugar, is a representative dish of the Francophone Atlantic world. It is a French recipe ascribed to César, duc de Choiseul, comte du Plessis-Praslin, an early seventeenth-century marshal and diplomat. In a widely circulated though unverifiable story, du Plessis-Praslin inspired his cook, possibly one Clément Lassagne, to name the sweet invention in his honor. Originally made of caramelized and sugarcoated whole almonds, pralines were a treat reserved for the elite. Only in the late 1600s, following the praline’s invention, did sugar shift from a rarity and luxury to a common and necessary ingredient consumed nearly the world over. Various iterations of the praline have since diffused across former French colonies, echoing similar, though unrelated, international sweet treats; these include the global assortment of nougats, brittles, and marzipans, all of which fuse nuts (tree nuts, peanuts, or nut-like drupes like almonds and pistachios) with sugar or honey.