My mom always made pralines for the holidays. She would make the candy mixture then spoon it artfully on waxed paper and press two pecan halves on top. I’m not quite as artful about it–you have to work fast with candy and she was better at that than I am–so I just mix the pecans in with the candy and sloppily plop it out. You do it your way, but these are delicious! And really easy. If you’re not artful.
With a couple weeks till Christmas, this is a good time to make candy because it keeps well stored in airtight containers.
How to make Old-Fashioned Pralines:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter (or margarine)
2 cups pecan halves
Butter the sides of a medium-size saucepan. Combine the sugars and milk. Clip a candy thermometer to the pan. Bring the contents to a simmering boil on medium-high heat. Once the mixture boils, lower the temperature to medium-low.
Cook and stir to soft-ball stage–234 degrees. Don’t go away–you have to watch the thermometer. A good candy thermometer is worth its weight in gold, but you can use any thermometer that will register in the right temperatures for candymaking. Clip-on is definitely a huge help.
My mother didn’t use a candy thermometer, by the way. She just knew how to make it by how it looked. (I’m not my mother.)
Once the mixture gets to soft-ball stage, remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter–but don’t stir it in. Let the mixture cool down for a few minutes.
Don’t go away now, either. If you let it cool too long, it will harden into candy right in the pan. I test it every few minutes with my spoon to see if it’s starting to thicken. Once you see it starting to thicken, don’t waste any time adding the pecans starting to beat it vigorously with the spoon. It will look shiny at first, then start to lose the shine as it continues to thicken.
If you’re going to be artful and press the pecans on top after spooning the mixture out, don’t add the pecans now, of course. But I do.
Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Work quickly as the candy will start to harden.
You can store it for several weeks in an airtight container. This is a good time to make it ahead! Or just eat it now….
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