Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sugar, Sugar

Nate and I were in Georgia a few years ago and had the opportunity to try a bunch of new "southern" foods. Fried Green Tomatoes. Grits. She-Crab Soup. For the most part, I thought they were all so-so. Then we happened upon a little riverfront candy store in Savannah. We walked in and were offered a sample of their homemade pralines, something I had heard of, but never tried before. Oh. My. Gosh. Pralines. Amazing.

I've been wanting to try making them ever since that trip, but as I've mentioned before, have a serious fear of making anything that requires a candy thermometer. But they say the best way to overcome your fears is to face them head on, so I decided I'd give it a try. Today was a lazy, snowy Saturday, just five days before Christmas, so I decided that I'd make "Christmas" pralines and give them to our neighbors. While nothing will ever top that first taste in Savannah, these are pretty darn amazing (and SO rich!). Yum!

Southern Pralines

1 C. granulated sugar

1 C. light brown sugar, packed

3/4 C. half and half

1/4 t. salt

2 T. butter

1 t. vanilla

1 cup whole pecans

Butter sides of a heavy saucepan (2 qt. size). Add sugars, half and half, and salt to saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is disolved. Raise heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Reduce heat and continue cooking to soft ball stage (about 234 degrees) on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.

Add butter and vanilla, but do not stir. Let sit for five minutes. Stir in nuts. Beat with a wooden spoon until candy is no longer glossy and is thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Quickly spoon candy onto buttered baking sheets or waxed paper. If mixture become too thick to drop from a spoon, add a little hot water, no more than half a teaspoon at a time.

Makes about 16 pralines.

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