I have so many candy recipes that I wanted to make and post for Christmas, but I simply ran out of time. The bad thing about making candy recipes after Christmas? I’m not always surrounded by family or friends when I make them, so I eat a whole lot more of these sugary sweets than I should. Not a good thing!! So what did Miss Piggy here do? I made one batch of these delicious Buttermilk Pecan Pralines and totally pigged out. I felt so guilty, that I made a second batch to share with some friends. I knew that none of my friends had ever enjoyed biting into one of these blissful little candies and I couldn’t wait for them to indulge.
Have you ever had a Praline? Because if you haven’t OMG… you don’t know what you’ve been missing. They are very popular in New Orleans, but you don’t have to go to New Orleans to enjoy this ever so addictive candy. You can make them right in your own kitchen, and guess what? They aren’t hard to make. Do you remember my post on Pecan Praline Fudge? Well if you liked it, you’re really going to love these pralines.
Allow me to walk you through the easy steps to making this delicious candy…
First things first… Don’t be intimidated by a candy thermometer. Now to answer the question that I can hear you asking, “Cindy, why are you using two candy thermometers?” Well I was actually using a digital thermometer, a thermometer that is always dead on accurate, but sometimes I like testing some of my cheaper glass thermometers at the same time…sort of an easy way for me to check the calibration on them. Candy thermometers are not hard to use at all, but it is important to make sure that your candy thermometer is calibrated correctly. Don’t think for a second that they are accurately calibrated right out of the package, even the most expensive ones. To see how to easily calibrate your candy thermometer, click here.
Now, back to the steps. I just want to show you how the candy goes through the stages of changing color as it cooks.
Top left: I started by adding buttermilk, sugar, salt and baking soda to a large saucepan and mixing with a wooden spoon to combine.
Top right: I clipped my candy thermometers onto the side of my pan. I brought the mixture to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly, then I reduced the heat to medium-low, #4 on my electric stove top.
Bottom left: I cooked the candy to a soft ball stage. In this picture it’s about half way there. As you can see the candy foams up. This is due to the addition of the baking soda.
Bottom right: The candy has reached 234 degrees on my candy thermometer, a soft ball stage and is ready to come off the heat. See how the color has changed to a nice dark caramel.
Top left: I immediately placed the pan in a sink of cold water, added some butter and vanilla and did not stir it. I left it in the cold water until the candy was lukewarm and removed it.
Middle left: I mixed it for about 1 minute with a wooden spoon to make sure the butter and vanilla were totally incorporated. As you can see, the any is thin and a darker caramel color. It’s also very shiny. Next, I started beating it by hand. This is the only hard part to making this candy…elbow grease. Okay, a quick tip here…I beat the candy for about 1 minute, then I allowed it to rest for about 20 seconds, then beat it again, and let it rest again.
Bottom left: The candy has started to become lighter in color here and it’s losing just a little bit of its shine.
First picture on right: The candy has almost lost all of its shine. Some people make the mistake of beating this candy until it has become very dull looking before stopping the beating and adding the pecans. The problem here is that the candy wants to set up too quickly before you can drop it by spoonfuls onto the wax paper. I stopped beating the candy when it still had just a little bit of shine, but I could tell it was becoming a little thicker in texture.
Second picture on right: I added the pecans and mixed to combine. The candy in this picture has a little bit of shine and is the perfect consistency to drop by tablespoons onto wax paper. The candy will finish losing the shiny gloss as it sets.
Picture on left: I dropped the candy by slightly heaping tablespoons onto wax paper.
Picture on right: After I allowed the candy to set for a couple of hours. The longer it sets, the more it loses the shiny appearance.
Can you tell what’s wrong with the candy in the picture below?
No? Well you might actually think this candy looks delicious, but as pretty as it might look, it tastes sugary when biting into it. I see lots of pictures of praline recipes that look like this. The candy has been slightly undercooked and probably has not been beaten long enough either. Although it has a delicious flavor, it is sugary and is lacking that creamy melt in your mouth texture.
- 1 cup buttermilk, not low fat
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons real butter, unsalted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups pecan halves
- Line two cookie sheets with wax paper and set aside.
- Combine the buttermilk, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Clip a candy thermometer on the side of the pan and continue cooking over medium low heat (#4 on an electric stove), stirring constantly, until candy reaches 234 degrees on the candy thermometer. Due to the addition of baking soda, this candy does not test well in cold water. It foams up and separates.
- Remove pan from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Do not stir. Place pan in a sink of cold water and allow to cool to lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Test by placing your finger in the candy. When it's just warm, remove the pan from the water.
- Beat candy by hand until it becomes slightly thick and creamy, about five minutes. I beat it for a minute, then stop and let it rest for a few seconds, then beat it again. It will start to slightly lose its shiny, glossy appearance.
- Do not wait until the candy has lost all of its glossy appearance or it will set up too quickly before you can drop it onto wax paper. The candy will finish turning once it's dropped onto the wax paper.
- If you do over beat the candy and it begins to set up in pan, add a few drop of hot water and beat it with a wooden spoon until it's smooth again.
- Add the pecans and mix to combine. Immediately drop onto wax paper, using a tablespoon.
- Allow candy to set for at least two hours. You will notice the candy losing its remaining glossy look and turning to a satiny sheen while it sets.
- Store candy in an airtight container.
- Yield is about 1 1/2 pounds. Serving pieces depends on size of dropped candy. I used a slightly heaped tablespoon to drop them.
- Total time does not include cooling and beating.
- It's important to cook this candy to 234 degrees. I see many pictures of this candy posted, where it has been under cooked. When it's undercooked the result will be a sugary brown candy. The candy should be a lighter golden color and have a very creamy texture.
- If the bottom of candy is slightly sticky after two hours, flip pieces over and allow to set a few minutes until bottoms are dry.