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Sweet and Salty Pecan Drops

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pecan drops
(c) 2008 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to About.com, Inc.
These pecan drops, similar to pralines, feature the sweet taste of caramelized sugar offset by a hint of salt. I like to use a generous portion of salt because I love the contrast between sweet and savory, but you can use a lighter hand when sprinkling the salt if you prefer a sweeter candy. This recipe yields about two dozen pieces.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • Salt

Preparation:

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. Sprinkle a thin layer of salt over the entire baking sheet and set aside for now.

2. Place the sugar, milk, and baking soda in a medium saucepan. The mixture will double or triple in size, so be sure to use at least a 4-quart saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and bring the candy to a boil, stirring frequently so that the sugar melts.

3. Insert a candy thermometer and continue to cook the candy, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240 degrees, soft-ball stage.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the butter, vanilla, and chopped pecans.

5. Stir the candy with a wooden spoon until it begins to lose its shine and starts to hold the shape of the spoon strokes. It is important to beat it enough that it sets up, but not so much that it becomes crumbly and hard before you can spoon it out. If you are unsure and want to check its consistency, drop a small spoonful onto the prepared baking sheet. If it spreads just a little and holds a circular shape, it is ready.

6. Once the candy is creamy, drop small spoonfuls onto the salt-sprinkled baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle the tops with more salt while they are still wet. Allow the candy to sit and harden for about 10 minutes, then remove it from the baking sheet. Pecan drops can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

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