Megan's Pecan PralinesEditor's note: This recipe appears as part of our editors' Christmas Cookie Swap, 10 beloved holiday recipes from the editors of Epicurious and Gourmet Live. Making pralines always involves a bit of trial and error, as sugar is finicky. Some people swear that these treats will set up only on a cool, dry day, while others have had success no matter what the temperature. Be sure to have all your ingredients measured and at the ready as the sugar mixture's temperature fluctuates rather quickly, so you'll need to be prepared for each step. Ask a friend to help scoop the hot mixture onto wax paper as you keep stirring the pot. For a more pronounced molasses flavor, substitute brown sugar for 1 cup of the white variety.
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) pecans, coarsely chopped
  • Special equipment: pastry brush; 2 large baking sheets; wax paper; candy thermometer
servings:2
  1. Line 2 large baking sheets with wax paper.
  2. In a large heavy pot, stir together the sugar and 1 cup evaporated milk. Attach a candy thermometer to the pot and place it over moderately low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally—use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wash down any sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pot—until the sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Raise the heat to moderate and cook the mixture, undisturbed, until the thermometer registers 238°F (soft-ball stage), 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool, undisturbed, until the thermometer registers 220°F, about 6 minutes.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla and butter. Continue stirring until the mixture is creamy and thick, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the pecan pieces. Working quickly, use a wooden spoon to scoop up heaping tablespoons of the praline mixture and a small metal spoon to scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between pralines. If the mixture starts to crystallize and harden, add 1 to 2 tablespoons evaporated milk and place over low heat, stirring, until the mixture softens then continue dropping on prepared baking sheets. Let the pralines harden at room temperature. DO AHEAD: Pralines can be made ahead, wrapped individually in waxed paper, and stored in an airtight container in a cool place, up to 1 week.

Megan's Pecan Pralines

Editor's note: This recipe appears as part of our editors' Christmas Cookie Swap, 10 beloved holiday recipes from the editors of Epicurious and Gourmet Live. Making pralines always involves a bit of trial and error, as sugar is finicky. Some people swear that these treats will set up only on a cool, dry day, while others have had success no matter what the temperature. Be sure to have all your ingredients measured and at the ready as the sugar mixture's temperature fluctuates rather quickly, so you'll need to be prepared for each step. Ask a friend to help scoop the hot mixture onto wax paper as you keep stirring the pot. For a more pronounced molasses flavor, substitute brown sugar for 1 cup of the white variety.
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) pecans, coarsely chopped
  • Special equipment: pastry brush; 2 large baking sheets; wax paper; candy thermometer

Directions

  1. 1Line 2 large baking sheets with wax paper.
  2. 2In a large heavy pot, stir together the sugar and 1 cup evaporated milk. Attach a candy thermometer to the pot and place it over moderately low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally—use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wash down any sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pot—until the sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Raise the heat to moderate and cook the mixture, undisturbed, until the thermometer registers 238°F (soft-ball stage), 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool, undisturbed, until the thermometer registers 220°F, about 6 minutes.
  3. 3Using a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla and butter. Continue stirring until the mixture is creamy and thick, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the pecan pieces. Working quickly, use a wooden spoon to scoop up heaping tablespoons of the praline mixture and a small metal spoon to scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between pralines. If the mixture starts to crystallize and harden, add 1 to 2 tablespoons evaporated milk and place over low heat, stirring, until the mixture softens then continue dropping on prepared baking sheets. Let the pralines harden at room temperature. DO AHEAD: Pralines can be made ahead, wrapped individually in waxed paper, and stored in an airtight container in a cool place, up to 1 week.

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