These candies are sweet and creamy, and the deep flavor of caramelized sugar complements the pecans perfectly. They are quite easy to make, and the only special equipment you need is a candy thermometer and a large saucepan.
from Rebecca Rather’s The Pastry Queen
2 cups whole raw pecans
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7-9 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant.
Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper. Set aside.
Combine the buttermilk, baking soda, sugar, corn syrup and butter in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan; cook slowly over medium heat, stiffing occasionally, until it reaches the soft-ball stage, registering between 234° and 240°F on a candy thermometer, about 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Add vanilla and pecans and beat the candy with a wooden spoon until it starts to lose its shine, becomes more opaque, and starts getting creamy, about 10 minutes. The candy should be thick enough to drop by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. (Don’t overbeat or the mixture will be very thick and sugary. If this happens, gently rewarm the candy slightly, then beat again.) Cool the candies thoroughly, then wrap them individually in plastic wrap. They will keep at room temperature for about 5 days.