Plantation Pralines

This recipe was given to me by both Jane Kester and her daughter Linda Hamblin as one of their favorite candy recipes on September 18, 2004.  Jane reminded me that in order for this recipe to turn out right, you must use pure cane brown sugar, not beet brown sugar.  It will not harden up if you use the wrong kind of sugar.  I first made this recipe September 28, 2004, and I made it again on September 30, 2004 to take to a Diversity luncheon at work.  According to my Internet sources, Pralines were first made in France during the 17th century by Count Cesar de Plessis Praslin, his calling card for courting famous French women.  The Pralines in France were first made with almonds.  The French settlers in the New Orleans (USA) area use pecans as that nut is plentiful.  Pralines are a delicacy, but are easy to make and are much desired for gift giving, especially during Christmastime in the Southern United States.  This recipe calls for pecan halves.  I used pecan pieces and they turned out well.  One visitor to my Diversity table at work (New York State) had recently  purchased pralines in New Orleans.

3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups pecan halves

In a two-quart saucepan with a handle, combine the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and milk.  Cook and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.  Make sure that you keep the sides of the pan wiped down so that sugar does not cake on side of pan.  Cook until soft ball stage (a small amount of candy mixture forms a soft ball in a small amount of cold water).  Remove from heat and cool for about 10 minutes.  Add butter, vanilla, and pecans.  Mix with a spoon until mixture is creamy and starts to harden.  Drop from large spoon onto waxed paper, or buttered cookie sheet.  Makes 24 servings.