Adapted from whatscookingamerica.net
cups granulated sugar
cups firmly-packed light or dark brown sugar*
cup evaporated milk
tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
cups pecan halves
teaspoon pure vanilla extract or bourbon (optional)
Butter a large sheet of wax paper or parchment paper; set aside. You could also use a large silpad. In a large heavy pan over medium heat, combine sugar, brown sugar, and evaporated milk; cook, stirring constantly until the thermometer reaches 235 degrees F. or when a small amount of sugar mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard but not brittle threads. As soon as the temperature reaches 235 degrees F, add the butter and vanilla; stir until the butter is fully melted and the mixture is well combined (about 1 minute). Immediately remove the mixture from heat; set saucepan in a large pan of cold water to cool. This is the type of cooking thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers asking what cooking thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. When sugar mixture has almost cooled, beat with a spoon 1 minute or until it begins to lose it gloss. Immediately stir in pecans and drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared buttered wax paper, leaving about 3 inches between each ball for the pralines to spread. NOTE: Work quickly before mixture sets. If it thicken up, just place pan back on low heat to re-soften. When pralines have cooled and have become firm, wrap individually in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store in a covered container. Makes 36 small or 20 large pralines.