There are three main types:
• Belgian pralines
• French pralines
• American pralines
Belgian pralines are also known as “(soft-center) Belgian chocolates”, “Belgian chocolate fondants” and “chocolate bonbons” in English-speaking countries.
They were first introduced by Jean Neuhaus II, a Belgian chocolatier, in 1912.
Belgian pralines consist of a chocolate shell with a softer, sometimes liquid, filling, traditionally made of different combinations of hazelnut, almonds, marzipan, salted caramel, coffee, syrup, often milk-based pastes, a spirit, cream liqueur and cherry. There have always been many forms and shapes of pralines.
Belgian pralines are chic and elegant. Appropriate packaging was therefore needed to protect them from being broken.
In 1915, Louise Agostini, wife of Jean Neuhaus II, developed the first ‘ballotin’, a box in which pralines were packed.
Today, Belgian pralines are often sold in stylised boxes in the form of a gift box. The largest manufacturers are Neuhaus, Godiva, Leonidas, and Guylian.
Belgian pralines remain as popular as ever. Industrialisation has reduced prices and allowed pralines to be enjoyed by not only the moneyed classes.
French pralines began in the home of the French Count of Plessis-Praslin (1598 – 1675); the word praline deriving from the name Praslin.
Early pralines were whole almonds individually coated in caramelized sugar, as opposed to dark nougat, where a sheet of caramelized sugar covers many nut.
After this powder has been mixed with chocolate, it becomes praliné in French, which gave birth to what is known in French as chocolat praliné.
American pralines are a softer, creamier combination of syrup and pecans, hazelnuts or almonds with milk or cream, resembling fudge.
French settlers brought the recipe for pralines to New Orleans, where both sugarcane were plentiful.
During the 19th century, New Orleans chefs substituted pecans for almonds, added cream to thicken the confection, and thus created what became known throughout the American South as the praline.
In New Orleans, Acadiana, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pralines are sometimes called “pecan candy.”
World’s most expensive chocolate praline is worth $240,000. Created in Brussels, Belgium, this chocolate praline seems to piece of art when it comes to the culinary expertise put in. Tasted by experts, the taste of this unique piece of chocolate is known dark ganache, caramel, with helpings of ginger and a dressing of edible gold leaf. But what really adds the special touch is the single 3.63-carat diamond which is the main garnish on the chocolate, packaged singularly with each piece of that unique chocolate.