Saint-Domingue (present day Haiti) was the richest sugar colony for the French during French occupation of that Caribbean island during the 17th century. Haiti was the backbone for the beginning and duration of the French sugar industry. The knowledge and resources for processing cane sugar to refined sugar, gave the French the advantage of becoming the leader in the sugar industry during the 17th century. The abundance of sugar in Haiti provided the French with the opportunity for creative desserts in Haiti and in France. The praline was one of the French desserts created from the abundance of sugar during that time. However, this confection did not take on the “praline” name until its introduction to the United States.
Pralines are often defined as caramelized nuts or sugar coated nuts. Credit is often attributed to one well to do French sugar industrialist that lived in France during the 17th century. However, Haitian French Creoles believe that this is a recipe that was created in a French Plantation home in Haiti during French occupation of Haiti and transported to France where a French industrialist took credit for the creation of this recipe.
Although praline is well known only to American living in the southern states, every native Haitian knows this confection because it is a true part of their culture and livelihood. The Haitian’s name for praline is the “Haitian Tablet”. This recipe was later introduced in New Orleans by the French and their Haitian Creole house servants traveling from Haiti to New Orleans.
Haitian Tablets (Pralines) take two forms in Haiti. Made with brown sugar, this confection has a chewy consistency due to the molasses found in brown sugar. Cream and white sugar is added to the recipe to create a less chewy but creamier candy. The introduction of a variety of nuts like almonds, peanuts, coconut and cashew made for a great variety of pralines in Haiti. Peanut was and is still the most popular Haitian variety of this confection. The Haitian has named this confection, “Tablet Pistache”. Translated, this is the peanut variety of praline. Coconut is the next favorite variety of this confection for Haitian. Due to unfavorable condition for growth, pecan was not a nut option for this confection on the island of Haiti. Most Haitians are not familiar Pecan Pralines. This variety of praline became popular once this recipe was introduced in New Orleans because Pecans was abundant in the southern states of the United Sates.
French culture and cuisine was introduced in Haiti during French occupations of that island. Even though Haiti is a free country today, the French cultural influence and cuisine are still observed in Haiti’s language, mannerism and culinary skills.
The Haitian Tablet (Praline) is still abundant today and throughout Haiti’s main cities and countryside. It is one of the oldest confections produce by Haitian natives in Haiti. It is also one of Haitian’s most favorite treat.
Although pralines are simple to create, they are seldom authentic because those who create this confection are seldom direct French descendants and their recipes are often gathered from present day resources about the generic praline. There is one manufacturer of this confection that can call this recipe “authentic”. Le Gourmet Praline is a praline manufacturer owned by a Haitian French Creole who is a direct descendant of French and Haitian parents and was born on the Island of Haiti. Le Gourmet Praline recipe was handed down throughout the generations. There are family secrets to this recipe that makes this confection unique from any other pralines in this industry.