Praline Crunch is just in time for all of your Mardi Gras celebrations. If you like caramel corn, you’ll absolutely love Mardi Gras Praline Crunch. It’s made like my Old-Fashioned Caramel Corn using Corn Chex in place of popcorn. I dress it up for the Mardi Gras season with toasted pecans and Mardi Gras colored M&M’s. Laissez les Bon Temps Roules with these amazing munchies for all of your celebrations!
Is Mardi Gras Praline Crunch Easy to Make?
It is super easy to make! Also, the actual hands-on time is about 10 minutes.
I’ll go into more detail below, but basically Corn Chex and toasted pecans are tossed with an easy caramel sauce. Then, they are slow-baked for an hour until a hard praline shell covers the Corn Chex and pecans.
Other Recipes Using a Caramel Coating
Once you have the basic caramel recipe down, use your imagination to create amazing variations such as these:
- Holiday Caramel Chex Mixture: This is a very similar recipe that uses both pecans and almonds. Also, it uses red and green M&M’s for the Christmas season.
- Chocolate Drizzled Caramel Oyster Crackers: The star of the show here are lowly Oyster Crackers coated in the caramel mixture and finished with a chocolate drizzle.
- Chocolate Drizzled Caramel Pecan Crunch: Take basic caramel corn to new heights by substituting pecans for peanuts, and adding a drizzle of luxurious chocolate.
I used the following ingredients to make this awesome confection:
- Corn Chex: I could have also used Rice Chex, Wheat Chex, or brown sugar Quaker Oatmeal Squares.
- Whole Pecans: Even though the Praline Crunch is slow-cooked in the oven, I like to start with the pecans being toasted. I toast them at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes to bring out their incredible flavor. If you don’t have whole pecans, you could use pecan pieces, so long as the pieces are large.
- Unsalted Butter: I tend to always use unsalted butter in my recipes. The reason is that I can control the amount of salt that goes into the recipe.
- Light Brown Sugar: This recipe and many others that call for brown sugar indicate that the brown sugar should be packed. The actual amount of brown sugar that you use depends on how packed you make it. Therefore, I always weigh the brown sugar. My rule-of-thumb is that one-cup of packed brown sugar weighs 7.5 ounces.
- Light Corn Syrup: Some people mistakenly equate corn syrup with high fructose sugar. That is not the case at all. In fact, the Karo label specifically indicates “0g High Fructose Corn Syrup”. Corn syrup is important because it softens the texture of the caramel and prevents the crystallization of sugar.
- Salt: I generally use Kosher salt in my recipes. However, for this specific recipe, I used table salt.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract enhances all of the other flavors in the caramel.
- Baking Soda: You might think that baking soda is an odd ingredient to use. However, when baking soda is added to the cooked caramel, it reacts with the brown sugar and corn syrup to create a lot of little air bubbles. The result is a softer texture to the caramel.
- Purple, Green and Gold M&M’s: I added Mardi Gras colored M&M’s at the end for a festive color!
Making the Mardi Gras Praline Crunch
First, I lightly toasted the pecans in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes.
After letting the pecans cool, I added them to the top of the Corn Chex in a large bowl. The reason for putting the pecans on the top was that they are heavier than the Corn Chex. Because of this, they would otherwise tend to end up on the bottom of the bowl. I wanted to ensure that the pecans stayed on top to get a nice coating of the caramel.
For the caramel, I heated the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in a small saucepan over medium high heat (Photo 1). While the butter was melting, I stirred the mixture until it came to a boil.
Once the butter had melted and the mixture had come to a boil, I lowered the heat to medium low. I let the caramel mixture continue to boil uncovered without stirring for five minutes (Photo 2).
After five minutes, I removed the pan from the heat, and added the vanilla extract and baking soda (Photo 3). I stirred the caramel to ensure that the baking soda and vanilla were well incorporated (Photo 4).
Once the caramel was ready, I quickly poured it over the Corn Chex and pecans.
Finishing the Praline Crunch
I quickly stirred the mixture with a wooden spoon to coat the Corn Chex and pecans. Then, I dumped it into a large disposable aluminum roasting pan (15-3/16 x 11-5/16 x 2-7/8 inches) and evenly spread the mixture.
I didn’t worry too much at this point about making sure that everything was well coated.
Next, I popped it into a preheated 250°F oven for an hour. Every 15 minutes during the hour, I removed the roasting pan from the oven, and stirred the mixture to ensure that the Corn Chex and pecans were well coated.
After giving the Praline Crunch one last stir, I dumped it onto a piece of parchment paper so that it could completely cool. I broke up any large clumps, tasting some of the pieces along the way!
Once the Praline Crunch had cooled completely, I added the Mardi Gras colored M&M’s – purple, green and gold. Talk about good! It had the perfect amount of crunch and sweetness, and the pecans were incredible. Yum!
Chula’s Expert Tips
May also use Rice, Wheat Chex or Quaker Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares.
To toast pecans, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully to ensure that they don’t burn.
May also use salted butter. However, if you use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
The actual quantity of brown sugar can vary greatly depending on how one packs it. Therefore, I always weigh the brown sugar. My rule-of-thumb is 1 cup of packed brown sugar weighs 7.5 ounces.
I purchased the purple, green and gold M&M’s at Party City.
This recipe is easily adapted for different holidays by varying the color of the M&M’s. For Valentines Day, use red, pink and white M&M’s. Use pastel colored M&M’s for Easter. For the 4th of July, use red, white and blue M&M’s. Use autumn colored M&M’s for Halloween, and for Christmas, use red and green M&M’s.
The reason that I use a disposable roasting pan is that I don’t want to bother with cleaning the hardened caramel from a regular pan. Feel free, however, to use any large pan. Just make sure that it’s large enough to easily hold all of the mixture.
It’s important to store this in an airtight container. The reason is that the sugars are hygroscopic. What this means is that they absorb moisture and can make the Praline Crunch sticky.
If you liked the recipe for Mardi Gras Praline Crunch, please consider rating it and leaving a comment. I’d love to know how you liked it!
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Mardi Gras Praline Crunch
- 1 (12-ounce, 340 grams) package Corn Chex, about 10-1/2 to 11 cups (See Tip 1)
- 2 cups (8 ounces, 226 grams) whole pecans, lightly toasted (See Tip 2)
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces, 113 grams) unsalted butter (See Tip 3)
- 3/4 cup (5.625 ounces, 160 grams) light brown sugar, packed (See Tip 4)
- 6 Tablespoons (4.125 ounces, 117 grams) light corn syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (6.8 ounces, 196 grams) Mardi Gras (purple, green and gold) M&M’s (See Tips 5 and 6)
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- Add Corn Chex to large bowl; add toasted pecans on top. Do not stir. Set aside.
- Heat the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium low; cook, undisturbed and uncovered, for 5 minutes.
- Remove saucepan from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla extract.
- Pour the caramel over the Corn Chex and pecans; quickly stir to coat.
- Spread the mixture onto an ungreased large disposable aluminum pan (15-3/16 x 11-5/16 x 2-7/8 inches). Bake for one hour, removing every 15 minutes to stir. (See Tip 7)
- Spread the mixture onto parchment paper to cool. It may seem sticky at first but will dry as it cools.
- Once cool, add M&M's.
- Store in airtight container. (See Tip 8)
- Yield: About 15 cups.
Chula's Expert Tips
- May also use Rice, Wheat Chex or Quaker Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares.
- To toast pecans, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully.
- May also use salted butter. However, if you use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
- The actual quantity of brown sugar can vary greatly depending on how one packs it. Therefore, I always weigh the brown sugar. My rule-of-thumb is 1 cup of packed brown sugar weighs 7.5 ounces.
- I got the purple, green and gold M&M's at Party City. It sells bulk colors of M&M's.
- This recipe is easily adapted for different holidays by varying the color of the M&M's. For Valentines Day, use red, pink and white M&M's. For Easter, use pastel colored M&M's. For the 4th of July, use red, white and blue M&M's. For Halloween, use autumn colored M&M's. For Christmas, use red and green M&M's.
- The reason that I use a disposable roasting pan is that I don't want to bother with cleaning the hardened caramel from a regular pan. Feel free, however, to use any large pan. Just make sure that it's large enough to easily hold all of the mixture.
- It's important to store this in an airtight container. The reason is that the sugars are hygroscopic. What this means is that they absorb moisture and can make the Praline Crunch sticky.