Texas-style creamy pecan cookies

My family is from Texas, and we dearly love "authentic" Mexican food. Authentic as defined by my father: home-style Tex-Mex. (On a trip to Acapulco, he complained that he couldn't find any real Mexican food in the whole damn town.)

We feel that the perfect ending to an orgy of tacos, enchiladas, tamales, beans, rice and Dos Equis beer is pralines. However, we have been consistently disappointed by the pralines served at restaurants. They are always either crystalline and crunchy, or sticky like undercooked taffy. Both are equally unacceptable.

At the age of 10, I decided to try my hand at making pralines, and happened on a recipe in a current (1958) issue of The Ladies Home Journal, which I accidently adapted to make the perfect praline!not gooey, not crunchy, but of a solid consistency that becomes creamy in texture as it is eaten. The secret is to first screw up the recipe (at this point you are tempted to throw the whole thing out, including the pot) and then rectify the mistake into a wonderfully sinful sugary concoction. Now, no Mexican dinner or Christmas candy plate at our house is complete without them.


(Makes 16-24)


  1. Place the white sugar, brown sugar, milk and corn syrup in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to thoroughly dissolve.
  2. Measuring the temperature with a candy thermometer, stir constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon. When the mixture reaches "jelly" temperature on the thermometer it will bubble furiously. Splattering is a danger (this is why you want a spoon with a long handle). You may wish to wear heavy rubber gloves for further protection. Continue stirring until mixture reaches ("medium ball" stage).
  3. Remove from heat, add vanilla and let it sit for 10 minutes. During this time, set out the cupcake papers on the countertop and place 3-4 pecan halves in each paper.
  4. Beat the mixture by hand with the wooden spoon, while it is still in the pan, until it loses its glossy sheen. This can take up to 10 minutes or more, and calls for a strong arm.
  5. At this point, the mixture will very quickly begin to form lumps and harden in the pan. As this begins to happen, return the pan to low heat; add boiling hot water a tablespoon at a time, and beat out the lumps until nearly all are gone. Add just enough water so that the mixture is somewhat runny and has lost much of its previous lumpy consistency (no more than 3/4 cup of water, and often much less.) Leaving a few lumps is permissible and often unavoidable.
  6. Remove from heat and spoon it into the cupcake papers. Let it harden for 20-30 minutes, then remove papers. Be sure not to let the papers remain on after the candy has hardened somewhat or they will be difficult to remove later.


I prefer Karo brand corn syrup.

Store the pralines in an airtight container.


Difficulty: moderate to hard.
Time: 30 minutes cooking, 30 minutes cooling.
Precision: Measure the ingredients and the temperatures.


Pamela McGarvey 
UCLA Comprehensive Epilepsy Program 
Recipe last modified: 24 May 86

Original header

Path: decwrl!reid
From: pam@cepu (Pamela McGarvey)
Subject: RECIPE: Pecan pralines
Message-ID: <6183@decwrl.DEC.COM>
Date: 31 Oct 86 11:38:40 GMT
Sender: reid@decwrl.DEC.COM
Organization: UCLA Comprehensive Epilepsy Program
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