Pecan Pralines

Source: Desert Candy

Pecan Pralines

These wonderful confections may take a little practice to get right, but even the not-so-perfect ones will still taste great. Some people prefer to add all the pecans at the end but I like to add half of them at the beginning, so they get a nice toasty flavor without over-crowding the pan.

3 cups brown sugar
2 cups pecan halves
1 cup buttermilk or whole milk
4 tbl butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbl vanilla
special equipment: candy thermometer

1. Line 2 baking sheets or a work surface with parchment or wax paper. Get two large metal spoons and rub them with butter or oil to grease.

2. Place the sugar, buttermilk, butter, salt, and half of the pecans in a medium-sized heavy duty sauce pan. Place over medium heat and stir so that the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture just reaches 236 F, about 15 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla and remaining pecans, and stir the mixture rapidly until it just begins to lose its shine, only about one minute. Working very quickly, use the two greased spoons to dollop out pralines onto the parchment. Don't worry if it seems runny at first, the mixture will begin to set very quickly. It's better to start sooner and have a runny one at first then risk having them harden in the pan.

4. Let sit until firm, store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Note: Inevitably, your last few pralines might be less then pretty, but they'll still taste good. There will probably be some stray sugary pecan bits stuck to the pan, these are excellent crumbled over vanilla ice cream. In the unfortunate event your mixture hardens very quickly, you can pass off the nuts simply as sugared pecans.