Classic Southern Pralines
- Makes 20-50 pralines, depending on how large or small you drop them
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) granulated white sugar
- 3/4 cup (6 oz) light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) milk - whole is preferred but 2% is fine
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz) salted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup (12 oz) pecans - I like them roughly chopped, but you can leave them whole or chop them more finely. You can also toast the pecans, if desired.
Before starting to cook, lay out a piece of parchment, aluminum foil, or a silpat for the pralines. Set a second spoon nearby in case you need to scrape the candy off the first spoon.
Combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan, at least 4 quarts. Do not use a smaller pan as the syrup will bubble up during cooking. It's also harder to stir in a smaller pan.
Cook the syrup over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When it comes to a boil, start stirring constantly. Let it boil for about 3 minutes, until the syrup registers 238°f - 240°F on a candy thermometer.
Remove the pan from heat immediately and keep stirring. Stir, stir, stir! It will become creamy, cloudy, and start to thicken. When you feel it starting to get grainy, the pralines are ready. You can also hear it if you listen closely; the crystals will make a scraping noise against the side of the pan.
Drop spoonfuls of the praline syrup onto your waiting parchment. Work quickly, as the syrup starts to set as it gets cool. Let the pralines cool and harden for at least ten minutes before eating. They will keep in an airtight container for several days, but they're at their very best within the first 24 hours of making them!
One last thing: don't forget the pan scrapings! Whatever is left in the pan is the cook's treat. Scrape those up and eat them with a spoon.
• Chocolate Pralines - Add 1/2 cup of chocolate with all the ingredients.
• Peanut Butter Pralines - Add 1/3 cup of peanut butter in the last 30 seconds of boiling the syrup.
• Nut-Free Pralines - Add 1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal right before you start dropping the candies.