Archives for category: Southern Dessert

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

If we did a survey of the most popular pies at Thanksgiving, I’m confident it would be Pumpkin, Apple and Pecan. I write this because I have lived in several regions around the U.S. — the West, the South and New England — and found that these are the traditional choices and favorites. (Although, if you add in a Boston Creme or Chocolate Creme Pie not many will complain.)

Pecan Pie is extra special to me because it was my children’s paternal grandmother’s favorite and it became mine too. It is super sweet with a rich pecan flavor and buttery crust. It reminds me of New Orleans.

Recently, my daughter who is having her Thanksgiving feast on the East Coast asked if I had a Pecan Pie recipe I could share. Hmmm…let me think!

The following is an easy choice if you want to make a Southern favorite to sweeten things up for your Thanksgiving!

Photo Cred — Ariana

Bourbon-Pecan Pie



2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 tsp. sea salt

1 stick plus 7 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled


1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup

2 TBSP Bourbon (or Bourbon extract)

1 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups unsalted pecan halves (1/2 lbs)


  1. In a bowl, whisk the flour with brown sugar and salt. Stir in the butter until the dough comes together into a ball. Transfer the dough to a 9″ glass or ceramic pie plate. Using your fingers, press the dough over the bottom and up the sides of the plate to the rim. Crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes up to 3 days.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk both sugars, flour, salt and eggs until smooth, then mix in the syrup. Add the bourbon, butter and vanilla. Then, fold in the pecans.
  3. Pour the filling into the chilled crust. Place pie plate on a baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 1 hour, until the filling is almost set (not jiggly). Remove from the oven and place pie plate on a wire rack to cool completely up to 4 hours.

Serve with home-made or store bought whipped cream.

Note: You can use a store bought pie crust if you want to eliminate that step. We won’t tell!

Enjoy! XOXO Jill