Happy December! It’s the time of year for holiday baking. Did you know in the month of December there are 14 different holidays celebrated around the world? Our family celebrates Christmas but we have many friends and family that are Jewish and celebrate Hanukkah. This year, I decided to bake my desserts and candy early and deliver them since our gatherings and celebrations will be smaller.

One of my favorites is Pralines that I learned to make when I lived in Louisiana. These are a fun, sweet, unique, gourmet gift since they aren’t usually found in other areas of the country.

If you are from Louisiana the proper way to say it is ‘prah-leen.” These sweet candy treats are made with pecans or “pee-kans” that are from the native tree nuts in the humid region. My first taste of these Southern pecan, sugar-coated treats was during one of my many visits to the French Quarter in New Orleans and since then I’ve tried to master the candy.

There is only a few ingredients but the process moves quickly meaning you’ll need to work fast and have patience. The best strategy is to have all your ingredients measured and ready to go as you begin each step below.

Southern Pecans


2 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 cup half and half

1 TBSP unsalted butter

Kosher salt

2 cups pecan halves

1/4 tsp vanilla


  1. Line two large baking sheets with wax paper.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 cups of sugar, half and half, butter and a pinch of salt. Bring this to a boil stirring occasionally to combine.
  3. In another medium pot, add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 TBSP water. Stir well to incorporate. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then, cook without stirring until the sugar mixture begins to turn a deep, golden caramel color about 3 minutes.
  4. Working quickly turn off the stove and pour the half and half mixture, pecans and vanilla into the caramel pot. Using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously to combine over medium heat. Be careful during this step as the mixture is very hot.
  5. Attach a candy thermometer to the pot and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the thermometer.
  6. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens about 7-9 minutes. Use a large spoon and scoop a round TBSP of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave 1″ between each praline. Cool completely.

These can be stored in an air-tight container in a cool area for up to 2 to 3 weeks.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill